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Of Property and Government

by John Locke in 1689

John Locke lays out the foundational arguments of liberalism: people have rights preexisting government, and government exists to protect those rights.

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Understanding Can Not Be Compelled

by John Locke in 1689

John Locke argues for liberty of conscience which he calls “every man’s natural right,” in this selection from A Letter Concerning Toleration.

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The Saga of Pirate Captain John Gow, Part I

by Daniel Defoe on Jan 1, 1725

“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.

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The Legend of Libertalia, Part One

by Charles Johnson in 1728

“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.”

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The Legend of Libertalia, Part Two

by Charles Johnson in 1728

“Misson designed his Settlement[,] Libertalia, [naming his people] Liberi…desiring [that it might drown the] Names of French, English, Dutch, Africans, &c.”

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Justice and Property

by David Hume in 1739

Hume argues that rules of justice do not spring fully-formed from rational calculation but emerge from the uncoordinated actions of individuals.

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Of Political Society

by David Hume in 1748

Hume explores the nature of political society and argues that there is some basic utility to the state.

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Labor and Commerce

by Adam Smith in 1756

In this selection from The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith discusses prices in terms of labor and happiness.

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The Man of System

by Adam Smith in 1759

Smith’s The Theory of Moral Sentiments included this passage about spontaneous order vs planned economy.

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Justice and Beneficence

by Adam Smith in 1759

Smith explains why benevolence is desirable but justice is essential to how we measure our behavior in the eyes of others.