John Locke lays out the foundational arguments of liberalism: people have rights preexisting government, and government exists to protect those rights.
John Locke argues for liberty of conscience which he calls “every man’s natural right,” in this selection from A Letter Concerning Toleration.
“Peterson…answered in a surly Tone…So as we Eat so shall we Work: This he spoke aloud so as that…the Captain should hear him.”
Gow’s pirate crew—much of it sailing with him involuntarily—falls apart, and Gow is hanged.
“He fell upon Government, and shew’d, that every Man was born free, and had as much Right to what would support him, as to the Air he respired.”
“Misson designed his Settlement[,] Libertalia, [naming his people] Liberi…desiring [that it might drown the] Names of French, English, Dutch, Africans, &c.”
“Plantain was resolved that he would now make himself King of Madagascar, and govern there with absolute Power and Authority.”
Hume argues that rules of justice do not spring fully-formed from rational calculation but emerge from the uncoordinated actions of individuals.
Hume explores the nature of political society and argues that there is some basic utility to the state.
In this selection from The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith discusses prices in terms of labor and happiness.
Smith’s The Theory of Moral Sentiments included this passage about spontaneous order vs planned economy.
Smith explains why benevolence is desirable but justice is essential to how we measure our behavior in the eyes of others.
Dickinson writes on the importance of opposing the Townshend Acts, which threatened the sovereignty of the Thirteen Colonies.
Backus begins the most famous sermon of his life with the argument that no government may justifiably intervene in ecclesiastical life.
Backus details the ways in which early modern British statecraft merged church and state into the same invasive impediment to true salvation and happiness.
Backus details the long history of Baptist sufferings in the American colonies, suggesting that only full disestablishment could protect minorities’ interests.
In his conclusion, Backus links his own generation’s “new light” theological revival of antinomianism with the struggle against “taxation without representation.”
Levi Hart defines and describes the most essential types of liberty—a necessary precursor to his later attacks on all things slavery.