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Tyranny Unmasked: An Answer to a Late Pamphlet Entitled Taxation no Tyranny

Written in response to Samuel Johnson’s Taxation no Tyranny, this pamphlet dismisses Johnson’s arguments as unworthy of response, except for the fact that they are “irritating to Englishmen.” The author makes much of Johnson’s receipt of a government pension, calling him a “slave of state…hired by his stipend to obey his master in all things.” His most telling blow is to quote from Johnson’s poem ”London,” an earlier work in defense of liberty, as an argument against Johnson’s later pamphlet.

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Taxation no Tyranny; An Answer to the Resolutions and Address of the American Congress

Written in 1775 in response to the Declaration and Resolves of the First Continental Congress, Samuel Johnson’s Taxation no Tyranny is a defense of Parliamentary Sovereignty, particularly the right to tax. One of the greatest English prose stylists of his era, Johnson brings his considerable skills to bear against the “zealots of anarchy” in the American colonies who objected to taxation without representation.

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On Religion

This is the first full-length English translation of Benjamin Constant’s massive study of humanity’s religious forms and development, published in five volumes between 1824 and 1831. Constant (1767–1830) regarded On Religion, worked on over the course of many years, as perhaps his most important philosophical work. He called it “the only interest, the only consolation of my life,” and “the book that I was destined by nature to write.”

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On Religion

This is the first full-length English translation of Benjamin Constant’s massive study of humanity’s religious forms and development, published in five volumes between 1824 and 1831. Constant (1767–1830) regarded On Religion, worked on over the course of many years, as perhaps his most important philosophical work. He called it “the only interest, the only consolation of my life,” and “the book that I was destined by nature to write.”

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Humboldt’s State – and Ours (May 2021)

Welcome to our May 2021 edition of Liberty Matters.  This month Professor Michael Bentley has written our lead essay on Wilhelm von Humboldt.  Humboldt is one of the least well known yet very influential liberal philosophers in the Western world.  Humboldt is best known for his work in the fields of linguistics, education, and the importance of individual development.  His most famous work, The Limits of State Action, published by Liberty Fund, had a significant impact on John Stuart Mill’s thinking in his classic, On Liberty.  Professor Bentley notes that while Humboldt was read in the 19th century as someone commenting on the size and reach of government, the state as he knew it was much smaller, and therefore he focused on the importance of individuals and individual development.  According to Bentley, Humboldt’s key contribution to the history of liberal thought is his emphasis on individual experimentation in the scope of human existence.  He writes that “He (Humboldt) sees liberty of action as fundamental to personal growth. Its exercise, so long as we do not harm others, functions as a mainstay for an individual-within-society.”  It was this focus on providing a wide space for individuals to live their own lives as they saw fit that so influenced Mill and others.

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Keith E. Whittington, “John C. Calhoun, Constitutionalism, and Slavery” (March 2021)

Welcome to our March 2021 edition of Liberty Matters. This month Keith Whittington has written our lead essay on John C. Calhoun. Calhoun was one of the most formidable political thinkers of his era as well as a former Vice President, a member of the House and Senate, and a Secretary of State and War during the first half of the 19th century. He was also a Southerner and a defender of the institution of slavery. As Professor Whittington notes in his essay, Calhoun is fascinating because his writings address many of the issues we are facing about the nature of our Constitutional order today. Much like America during Calhoun’s lifetime, we are deeply divided along regional lines in America today, and Calhoun’s writings on state “nullification” and concurrent majorities speak to many of the discussions we have had about our divisive political landscape. However his defense of slavery was and is so deeply at odds with America’s contemporary culture and values that re-examining Calhoun today helps us confront the question of whether or not we can still learn from the contributions of some historical figures even if we find some of their views repugnant and offensive. This online discussion is part of the series “Liberty Matters: A Forum for the Discussion of Matters pertaining to Liberty.”

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Daniel B. Klein, “Meanings of Liberty: Aron, Constant, Berlin” (April 2021)

Raymond Aron, Benjamin Constant, and Isaiah Berlin are three thinkers whose work illuminates different aspects of the meaning of the idea of "liberty." This collection of essays and responses engages with the differing characterinzations of liberty proffered by these individuals, but also looks for unifying threads running between and among them. Daniel B. Klein kicks things off in his lead essay exploring the ideational dimensions of "liberty" as talked about by Aron, Constant, and Berlin. Responses will follow in weeks to come from Professors Helena Rosenblatt and Daniel J. Mahoney.

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