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Quotes on Liberty

Love your country, but never trust its government.

-- Robert A. Heinlein.

"The power to tax involves the power to destroy;...the power to destroy may defeat and render useless the power to create...."

-- Chief Justice John Marshall, 1819.

"Rightful liberty is unobstructed action, according to our will, within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others."

-- Thomas Jefferson

Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others?

-- Thomas Jefferson, in his 1801 inaugural address

A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and all that is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.

-- Thomas Jefferson, in his 1801 inaugural address

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

-- Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759.

"Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government's purposes are beneficient...The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding."

-- Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis

"Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice; moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."

-- Barry Goldwater (actually written by Karl Hess)

"I hold it, that a little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical."

-- Thomas Jefferson, Letter to James Madison, January 30, 1787

"This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it or their revolutionary right to dismember it or overthrow it." -- Abraham Lincoln, 4 April 1861

No one is bound to obey an unconstitutional law and no courts are bound to enforce it. -- 16 Am. Jur. Sec. 177 late 2d, Sec 256

"The state calls its own violence `law', but that of the individual `crime'"

-- Max Stirner

"Today, we need a nation of Minutemen, citizens who are not only prepared to take arms, but citizens who regard the preservation of freedom as the basic purpose of their daily life and who are willing to consciously work and sacrifice for that freedom." -- John F. Kennedy

"Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force; like fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action."

-- George Washington, in a speech of January 7, 1790

The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it always to be kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all. I like a little rebellion now and then. -- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Abigail Adams, 1787

[W]hat country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time that [the] people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms...The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants.

-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Col. William S. Smith, 1787

"Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined." -- Patrick Henry, speech of June 5 1788

A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares about more than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.

-- John Stuart Mill, writing on the U.S. Civil War in 1862

You need only reflect that one of the best ways to get yourself a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating the very phrases which our founding fathers used in the great struggle for independence. -- Attributed to Charles Austin Beard (1874-1948)

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."

-- John F. Kennedy

The American Republic will endure, until politicians realize they can bribe the people with their own money.

-- Alexis de Tocqueville

Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.

-- Daniel Webster

What, then is law [government]? It is the collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense."

-- Frederic Bastiat, "The Law"

Sometimes the law defends plunder and participates in it. Sometimes the law places the whole apparatus of judges, police, prisons and gendarmes at the service of the plunderers, and treats the victim -- when he defends himself -- as a criminal. -- Frederic Bastiat, "The Law"

Live free or die; death is not the worst of evils.

-- General George Stark.

If a thousand men were not to pay their tax-bills this year, that would ... [be] the definition of a peaceable revolution, if any such is possible.

-- Henry David Thoreau

The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant. -- John Stuart Mill, "On Liberty", 1859

You [should] not examine legislation in the light of the benefits it will convey if properly administered, but in the light of the wrongs it would do and the harm it would cause if improperly administered

-- Lyndon Johnson, former President of the U.S.

The difference between death and taxes is death doesn't get worse every time Congress meets

-- Will Rogers

The end move in politics is always to pick up a gun.

-- R. Buckminster Fuller

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their consciences.

-- C. S. Lewis

It is proper to take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties. We hold this prudent jealousy to be the first duty of citizens and one of the noblest characteristics of the late Revolution. The freemen of America did not wait till usurped power had strengthened itself by exercise and entangled the question in precedents. They saw all the consequences in the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying the principle. We revere this lesson too much ... to forget it -- James Madison.

A ``decay in the social contract'' is detectable; there is a growing feeling, particularly among middle-income taxpayers, that they are not getting back, from society and government, their money's worth for taxes paid. The tendency is for taxpayers to try to take more control of their finances... -- IRS Strategic Plan, (May 1984)

It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is to-day, can guess what it will be to-morrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known, and less fixed? -- James Madison, Federalist Papers 62

I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which grant[s] a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.

-- James Madison, 1794

..every Man has a Property in his own Person. This no Body has any Right to but himself. The Labour of his Body, and the Work of his Hands, we may say, are properly his. .... The great and chief end therefore, of Mens uniting into Commonwealths, and putting themselves under Government, is the Preservation of their Property.

-- John Locke, "A Treatise Concerning Civil Government"

The people cannot delegate to government the power to do anything which would be unlawful for them to do themselves.

-- John Locke, "A Treatise Concerning Civil Government"

The prestige of government has undoubtedly been lowered considerably by the Prohibition law. For nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced. It is an open secret that the dangerous increase of crime in this country is closely connected with this.

-- Albert Einstein, "My First Impression of the U.S.A.", 1921

Non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as cooperation with good.

-- Mohandas Gandhi

The real point of audits is to instill fear, not to extract revenue; the IRS aims at winning through intimidation and (thereby) getting maximum voluntary compliance

-- Paul Strassel, former IRS Headquarters Agent Wall St. Journal 1980

Don't ever think you know what's right for the other person. He might start thinking he knows what's right for you.

-- Paul Williams, `Das Energi'

The IRS has become morally corrupted by the enormous power which we in Congress have unwisely entrusted to it. Too often it acts like a Gestapo preying upon defenseless citizens.

-- Senator Edward V. Long

The United States is in no way founded upon the Christian religion

-- George Washington & John Adams, in a diplomatic message to Malta.

This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it. -- John Adams, in a letter to Thomas Jefferson.

In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own. -- Thomas Jefferson, 1814

The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus by the Supreme Being as his father, in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.

-- Thomas Jefferson, 1823

I do not find in orthodox Christianity one redeeming feature.

-- Thomas Jefferson

Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear.... Do not be frightened from this inquiry from any fear of its consequences. If it ends in the belief that there is no God, you will find incitements to virtue in the comfort and pleasantness you feel in its exercise...

-- Thomas Jefferson, in a 1787 letter to his nephew

The Bible is not my book, and Christianity is not my religion. I could never give assent to the long, complicated statements of Christian dogma.

-- Abraham Lincoln

"...The Bill of Rights is a literal and absolute document. The First Amendment doesn't say you have a right to speak out unless the government has a 'compelling interest' in censoring the Internet. The Second Amendment doesn't say you have the right to keep and bear arms until some madman plants a bomb. The Fourth Amendment doesn't say you have the right to be secure from search and seizure unless some FBI agent thinks you fit the profile of a terrorist. The government has no right to interfere with any of these freedoms under any circumstances."

-- Harry Browne, 1996 USA presidential candidate, Libertarian Party

The direct use of physical force is so poor a solution to the problem of limited resources that it is commonly employed only by small children and great nations. -- David Friedman

It would be thought a hard government that should tax its people one tenth part. -- Benjamin Franklin

The price of liberty is, always has been, and always will be blood. The person who is not willing to die for his liberty has already lost it to the first scoundrel who is willing to risk dying to violate that person's liberty. Are you free? -- Andrew Ford

See, when the GOVERNMENT spends money, it creates jobs; whereas when the money is left in the hands of TAXPAYERS, God only knows what they do with it. Bake it into pies, probably. Anything to avoid creating jobs. -- Dave Barry

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. -- H.L. Mencken

"Are we to understand," asked the judge, "that you hold your own interests above the interests of the public?"

"I hold that such a question can never arise except in a society of cannibals."

-- Ayn Rand

All governments are more or less combinations against the people. . .and as rulers have no more virtue than the ruled. . . the power of government can only be kept within its constituted bounds by the display of a power equal to itself, the collected sentiment of the people.

-- Benjamin Franklin Bache, in a Phildelphia Aurora editorial 1794

Never could an increase of comfort or security be a sufficient good to be bought at the price of liberty. -- Hillaire Belloc

Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did, and it never will. Find out just what people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue until they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress. -- Frederick Douglass, August 4, 1857

Freedom, morality, and the human dignity of the individual consists precisely in this; that he does good not because he is forced to do so, but because he freely conceives it, wants it, and loves it.

-- Mikhail Bakunin

Idealism is the noble toga that political gentlemen drape over their will to power. -- Aldous Huxley

Morality is always the product of terror; its chains and strait-waistcoats are fashioned by those who dare not trust others, because they dare not trust themselves, to walk in liberty.

-- Aldous Huxley

Government is actually the worst failure of civilized man. There has never been a really good one, and even those that are most tolerable are arbitrary, cruel, grasping and unintelligent. -- H. L. Mencken

A right is not what someone gives you; it's what no one can take from you.

-- Ramsey Clark

The politician attempts to remedy the evil by increasing the very thing that caused the evil in the first place: legal plunder.

-- Frederick Bastiat

Every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.

-- H.L. Mencken

Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule--and both commonly succeed, and are right... The United States has never developed an aristocracy really disinterested or an intelligentsia really intelligent. Its history is simply a record of vacillations between two gangs of frauds.

--- H. L. Mencken

The Constitution is not neutral. It was designed to take the government off the backs of the people.

-- Justice William O. Douglas

Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries *by a government*, which we might expect in a country *without government*, our calamities is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer." -- Thomas Paine

He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression: for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach unto himself. -- Thomas Paine

When all government little as in great things... shall be drawn to Washington as the center of all power; it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another, and will become as venal and oppressive as the government from which we separated." -- Thomas Jefferson, 1821

Freedom begins between the ears. -- Edward Abbey

Fantastic doctrines (like Christianity or Islam or Marxism) require unanimity of belief. One dissenter casts doubt on the creed of millions. Thus the fear and the hate; thus the torture chamber, the iron stake, the gallows, the labor camp, the psychiatric ward. -- Edward Abbey

All forms of government are pernicious, including good government.

-- Edward Abbey

As war and government prove, insanity is the most contagious of diseases. -- Edward Abbey

Government: If you refuse to pay unjust taxes, your property will be confiscated. If you attempt to defend your property, you will be arrested. If you resist arrest, you will be clubbed. If you defend yourself against clubbing, you will be shot dead. These procedures are known as the Rule of Law. -- Edward Abbey

A true libertarian supports free enterprise, opposes big business; supports local self-government, opposes the nation-state; supports the National Rifle Association, opposes the Pentagon. -- Edward Abbey

Government should be weak, amateurish and ridiculous. At present, it fulfills only a third of the role. -- Edward Abbey

"Say what you like about my bloody murderous government," I says, "but don't insult me poor bleedin' country." -- Edward Abbey

"America is at that awkward stage. It's too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards." -- Claire Wolfe

"Since there is no such entity as 'the public,' since the public is merely a number of individuals, the idea that 'the public interest' supersedes private interests and rights can have but one meaning: that the interests and rights of some individuals take precedence over the interests and rights of others."

-- Ayn Rand

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