Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Liberty

"Liberty is not a means to a higher political end. It is itself the highest political end." - Lord Acton, John Emerich Dalberg-Acton

"It is indifference which is the cause of most of our unhappiness. Indifference to religion, to the happiness of others, and to the precious gift of freedom, and the wide liberty that is the inheritance of all in a free land. Are we our "Brother's Keeper"? We certainly are! If we had no regard for others' feelings or fortune, we would grow cold and indifferent to life itself. Bound up with selfishness, we could not hope for the success that could easily be ours." - George Matthew Adams

"Liberty is always unfinished business." - American Civil Liberties Union NULL

"In necessary things, unity; in doubtful things, liberty; in all things, charity." - Richard Baxter

"Personal liberty is the paramount essential to human dignity and human happiness." -

"Journey all over the universe in a map, without the expense and fatigue of traveling, without suffering the inconveniences of heat, cold, hunger, and thirst." - Miguel de Cervantes, fully Miguel de Cervantes Saaversa

"The only freedom worth possessing is that which gives enlargement to a people's energy, intellect and virtues... Progress, the growth of intelligence and power, is the end and boon of liberty; and, without this, a people may have the name, but want the substance and spirit of freedom." - William Ellery Channing

"Mankind is at its best when it is most free. This will be clear if we grasp the principle of liberty. We must realize that the basic principle of our freedom is freedom to choose, which saying many have on their lips but few in their minds." - Alighieri Dante

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." - Declaration of Independence NULL

"To whom you betray your secret you sell your liberty." - Benjamin Franklin

"How mighty is the human heart, with all its complicated energies; this living source of all that moves the world! this temple of liberty, this kingdom of heaven, this altar of God, this throne of goodness, so beautiful in holiness, so generous in love!" - Henry Giles

"I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue." -

"Economy is the parent of integrity, of liberty, and of ease; and the beauteous sister of temperance, of cheerfulness, and health; and profuseness is a cruel and crafty demon, that gradually involves her followers in dependence and debts, and so fetters them with irons that enter into their innermost souls." - John Hawkesworth

"For... what liberty is; there can no other proof be offered but every man’s own experience, by reflection on himself, and remembering what he useth in his mind, that is, what he himself meaneth when he saith an action... is free. Now he that reflecteth so on himself, cannot but be satisfied... that a free agent is he that can do if he will, and forbear if he will; and that liberty is the absence of external impediments. But to those that out of custom speak not what they conceive, but what they heard, and are not able, or will not take the pains to consider what they think when they hear such words, no argument can be sufficient, because experience and matter of fact are not verified by other men’s arguments, but by every man’s own sense and memory." - Thomas Hobbes

"The spirit of the people must frequently be roused, in order to curb the ambition of the court; and the dread of rousing this spirit must be employed to prevent that ambition. Nothing so effectual to this purpose as the liberty of the press; by which all the learning, wit, and genius of the nation, may be employed on the side of freedom, and every one be animated to its defense." - David Hume

"We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable; that all men are created equal and independent, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent and inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." - Thomas Jefferson

"Frugality may be termed the daughter of prudence, the sister of temperance, and the parent of liberty." -

"Poverty is a great enemy to human happiness; it certainly destroys liberty, and it makes some virtues impracticable and others extremely difficult." -

"Resolve not to be poor: whatever you have, spend less. Poverty is a great enemy to human happiness; it certainly destroys liberty, and it makes some virtues impracticable and others extremely difficult." -

"Often those who seek only license for their plundering, cry “liberty.” In the guise of this Old American ideal, men of vast economic domain would destroy what little liberty remains to those who toil. The liberty we seek is different. It is liberty fro common people - freedom from economic bondage, freedom from the oppressions of the vast bureaucracies of great corporations; freedom to regain again some human initiative, freedom that arises from economic security and human self-respect." - John L. Lewis, fully John Llewellyn Lewis

"There is no right without parallel duty, no liberty without the supremacy of the law, no high destiny without earnest perseverance, no greatness without self-denial." - Francis Lieber

"The unexamined life, said Socrates, is unfit to be lived by man. This is the virtue of liberty, and the ground on which we may justify our belief in it, that it tolerates error in order to serve truth." - Walter Lippmann

"The highest perfection of intellectual nature lies in a careful and constant pursuit of true and solid happiness; so the care of ourselves that we mistake not imaginary for real happiness, is the necessary foundation of our liberty." - John Locke

"Should one tell you that a mountain has changed its place, you are at liberty to doubt it; but if any one tells you that a man has changed his character, do not believe it." -

"In necessary things, unity; in doubtful things, liberty; in all things, charity." - Philipp Malanchthon, born Philipp Schwartzerdt

"It was left for the Germans to bring about a revolution of a kind never seen before: [the Nazi] revolution, devoid of ideas... and opposed to everything that is higher, better and decent; opposed to liberty, truth, and justice." - Thomas Mann, fully Paul Thomas Mann

"Liberty and equality - lovely and sacred words!" - Guiseppe Mazzini

"The greatest danger that faces this country is the danger of moral lassitude - liberty turned to license, rights demanded and duties shirked, the moral sense deteriorating, the traditions and standards of the nation weakened, the spiritual forces within it losing ground." - Robert J. McCracken, D.D.

"What is then liberty? To be born is at once to be born in the world and to the world. The world is already constituted, but never completely. Under the first rapport, we are solicited, under the second we are open to an infinity of possibilities. But this analysis is still abstract, because we exist under these two relations at once. There is therefore never determinism and never absolute choice; I am never a thing and never naked consciousness." - Maurice Merleau-Ponty

"The premeditation of death is the premeditation of liberty; he who has learnt to die has forgot to serve." - Michel de Montaigne, fully Lord Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

"The People have the right to the Truth as they have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is not right that they be exploited and deceived with false views of life, false characters, false sentiment, false morality, false history, false philosophy, false emotions, false heroism, false notions of self-sacrifice, false views of religion , of duty, of conduct and manners." - Benjamin Franklin "Frank" Norris

"It is a mistake to base one’s hopes for happiness upon the enforcement of security and equality. In principle, both desires are insatiable... No individual or society is secure in a world of emergent probability and sin... To exercise liberty is to take risks, to embrace uncertainties." - Michael Novak

"True liberty consists in the privilege of enjoying our own rights, not in the destruction of the rights of others." -

"Liberty is not to be found in any form of government, she is in the heart of the free man, he bears her with him everywhere." - Jean-Jacques Rousseau

"To renounce liberty is to renounce being a man, to surrender the rights of humanity and even its duties. For him who renounces everything no indemnity is possible. Such a renunciation is incompatible with man’s nature; to remove all liberty from his will is to remove all morality from his acts." - Jean-Jacques Rousseau

"A well governed appetite is a great part of liberty." -

"Wisdom, above all else, is liberty." -

"With regard to marriage, it is plain that it is in accordance with reason, if the desire of connection is engendered not merely by external form, but by a love of begetting children and wisely educating them; and if, in addition, the love both of the husband and wife has for its cause not external form merely, but chiefly liberty of mind." -

"It is said that it is far more difficult to hold and maintain leadership (liberty) than it is to attain it. Success is a ruthless competitor for it flatters and nourishes our weaknesses and lulls us into complacency." -

"Liberty is the only thing you cannot have unless you are willing to give it to others." - William Allen White

"The soul that is attached to anything, however much good there may be in it, will not arrive at the liberty of divine union. For whether it be a strong wire rope or a slender and delicate thread that holds the bird, it matters not, if it really holds it fast; for, until the cord is broken, the bird cannot fly. so the soul, held by the bonds of human affections, however slight they may be, cannot, while they last, make its way to God." -

"Among the natural rights of the Colonists are these: First, a right to life; Secondly, to liberty; Thirdly, to property; together with the right to support and defend them in the best manner they can. These are evident branches of, rather than deductions from, the duty of self-preservation, commonly called the first law of nature." - Samuel Adams

"In health there is liberty. Health is the first of all liberties, and happiness gives us the energy which is the basis of health." -

"Liberty, equality - bad principles! The only true principle for humanity is justice, and justice towards the feeble becomes necessarily protection or kindness." -

"Life is an apprenticeship to constant renunciations, to the steady failure of our claims, our hopes, our powers, our liberty." -

"Order is light, peace, inward liberty, free command over oneself; it is power... It is aesthetic and moral beauty, it is well-being, it is man's greatest need." -

"Liberty is from God; liberties form the Devil." - Berthold Auerbach

"The tree of liberty grows only when watered by the blood of tyrants." - Bertrand Barère

"Liberty is being free, that which leads to freedom. There is no other." - Ernest Benn, fully Sir Ernest John Pickstone Benn, 2nd Baronet