The Quote Garden
 “I dig old books.”
 Est. 1998

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Quotations about Freedom & Liberty

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NOTE:  Some of the quotes on this page were submitted to me by visitors, and not all have been verified for original source or wording. I'm working hard to confirm everything, but in the meantime please be aware of the possibility for errors.   —ღ Terri, March 2021

Most will give up an acre of freedom for a closet of security. ~Dr. Idel Dreimer,

To put the issue as simply as possible: we maintain freedom not in order to indulge error but in order to discover truth... ~Henry Steele Commager, "Free Enterprise in Ideas," Freedom, Loyalty, Dissent, 1954  [This essay was originally published in The Saturday Review, but I'm not sure if it was 1947 or 1952. —tg]

Freedom begins between the ears. ~Edward Abbey

The fact, in short, is that freedom, to be meaningful in an organized society must consist of an amalgam of hierarchy of freedoms and restraints. ~Samuel Hendel

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

The object of liberty is to give men and women a chance to be their best selves. That is its first and last purpose. ~Dorothy Thompson, Political Guide: A Study of American Liberalism and Its Relationship to Modern Totalitarian States, 1938

If freedom is really the organizing principle of our society, then we cannot forget that it is not illusion, propaganda and sedatives, but truth, and truth alone, that makes us free. ~Adlai Stevenson, in LIFE, "Eloquent Guides to America's National Purpose," 1960

      The first world war altered not only our position in the world but our attitude toward ourselves and toward our business as a people. Having won a war to "make the world safe for democracy," we began to act as though democracy itself had been won — as though there was nothing left for us to do but enjoy ourselves: make money in the stock market, gin in the bathtub and whoopee in the streets...
      The effect of the second war was different — and the same. The second war estranged us from our genius as a people. We fought it because we realized that our dream of human liberty could not survive in the slave state Hitler was imposing on the world... After the war, we acted again as though freedom were an accomplished fact. We no longer thought of it as safe but we made a comparable mistake: we thought of it as something which could be protected by building walls around it, by "containing" its enemy.
      But the truth is, of course, that freedom is never an accomplished fact. It is always a process... The only way freedom can be defended is not by fencing it in but by enlarging it, exercising it. ~Archibald MacLeish, in LIFE, "Eloquent Guides to America's National Purpose," 1960  [a little altered —tg]

Freedom is strangely ephemeral. It is something like breathing; one only becomes acutely aware of its importance when one is choking. ~William E. Simon

History does not teach fatalism. There are moments when the will of a handful of free men breaks through determinism and opens up new roads. ~Charles de Gaulle

Freedom has its life in the hearts, the actions, the spirit of men and so it must be daily earned and refreshed — else like a flower cut from its life-giving roots, it will wither and die. ~Dwight D. Eisenhower

Liberty is the possibility of doubting, of making a mistake,... of searching and experimenting,... of saying No to any authority — literary, artistic, philosophical, religious, social, and even political. ~Ignazio Silone, The God That Failed, 1950

Liberty: One of Imagination's most precious possessions. ~Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary

The patriot's blood is the seed of Freedom's tree. ~Thomas Campbell

Nothing is more difficult, and therefore more precious, than to be able to decide. ~Napoleon Bonaparte

Here is my advice as we begin the century that will lead to 2081. First, guard the freedom of ideas at all costs. Be alert that dictators have always played on the natural human tendency to blame others and to oversimplify. And don't regard yourself as a guardian of freedom unless you respect and preserve the rights of people you disagree with to free, public, unhampered expression. ~Gerard K. O'Neill, 2081

I wish that every human life might be pure transparent freedom.& ~Simone de Beauvoir

My definition of a free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular. ~Adlai Stevenson, speech, Detroit, 1952

In this epoch of ours, many of us are watching with a distressed heart the evidence of a flight from freedom. Most people take liberty for granted, when they enjoy it, and do not realize that they have to relentlessly fight for preserving it. ~Author unknown, c. 1964

It is easy to take liberty for granted, when you have never had it taken from you. ~Dick Cheney

We on this continent should never forget that men first crossed the Atlantic not to find soil for their ploughs but to secure liberty for their souls. ~Robert J. McCracken

You have freedom when you're easy in your harness. ~Robert Frost

For what avail the plough or sail,
Or land or life, if freedom fail?
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it. ~Thomas Paine

In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved. ~Franklin D. Roosevelt

We have to call it "freedom": who'd want to die for "a lesser tyranny"? ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960

Liberty has as many chains as slavery, but the golden chains of liberty decorate, and the iron chains of slavery degrade. ~Austin O'Malley (1858–1932), Thoughts of a Recluse, 1898

Freedom is the oxygen of the soul. ~Moshe Dayan

There are two freedoms — the false, where a man is free to do what he likes; the true, where he is free to do what he ought. ~Charles Kingsley

No one is free when others are oppressed. ~Author Unknown

Nations grown corrupt
Love bondage more than liberty;
Bondage with ease than strenuous liberty.
~John Milton

Freedom means choosing your burden. ~Hephzibah Menuhin

Most people want security in this world, not liberty. ~H.L. Mencken, Minority Report, 1956

We feel free when we escape — even if it be but from the frying pan into the fire. ~Eric Hoffer

Here, he could exist; "but mere existence is not enough," he sighed; "to live, one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower!" ~Hans Christian Andersen, "The Butterfly," translated by Caroline Peachey

Men fight for freedom, then they begin to accumulate laws to take it away from themselves. ~Author Unknown

Freedom is that instant between when someone tells you to do something and when you decide how to respond. ~Jeffrey Borenstein

Liberty is always dangerous, but it is the safest thing we have. ~Harry Emerson Fosdick

Freedom is not enough. ~Lyndon B. Johnson

Liberty has never come from the government. Liberty has always come from the subjects of it. The history of liberty is a history of resistance. ~Woodrow Wilson

I catch, through the mists of life's river,
A glimpse of the time to be,
When the chain from the bondman rusted,
Shall leave him erect and free...
~Alice Carey, "The Time to Be," c.1847

The sound of tireless voices is the price we pay for the right to hear the music of our own opinions. ~Adlai Stevenson, speech, New York City, 1952 August 28th

We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it. ~William Faulkner

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

Everywhere the human soul stands between a hemisphere of light and another of darkness on the confines of two everlasting hostile empires, — Necessity and Free Will. ~Thomas Carlyle, Essays, "The Opera"

We have enjoyed so much freedom for so long that we are perhaps in danger of forgetting how much blood it cost to establish the Bill of Rights. ~Felix Frankfurter

O Liberty...! is it well
To leave the gates unguarded?
~Thomas Bailey Aldrich

To make a pledge of any kind is to declare war against nature; for a pledge is a chain that is always clanking and reminding the wearer of it that he is not a free man. ~Mark Twain

No man can put a chain about the ankle of his fellow man without at last finding the other end fastened about his own neck. ~Frederick Douglass, speech, Civil Rights Mass Meeting, Washington, D.C., 1883

Let freedom never perish in your hands. ~Joseph Addison

Who speaks of liberty while the human mind is in chains? ~Francis Wright, 1828

Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth. ~George Washington

I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. ~James Madison, speech, Virginia Convention, 1788

Freedom is not worth having if it does not connote freedom to err. ~Mahatma Gandhi

The contest for ages has been to rescue liberty from the grasp of executive power. ~Daniel Webster

Freedom is nothing else but a chance to be better.... ~Albert Camus

Men fight for liberty and win it with hard knocks. Their children, brought up easy, let it slip away again, poor fools. ~D.H. Lawrence

I prefer liberty with danger to peace with slavery. ~Author Unknown

The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding. ~Louis D. Brandeis

When the People contend for their liberty, they seldom get anything for their Victory but new Masters. ~George Savile

He who is allowed to do as he likes will soon run his head into a brick wall out of sheer frustration. ~Robert Musil, The Man without Qualities, 1930

Power is duty; freedom is responsibility. ~Marie Dubsky, Freifrau von Ebner-Eschenbach (1830–1916), translated by Mrs Annis Lee Wister, 1882

Freedom is the will to be responsible to ourselves. ~Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols

Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it. ~George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman

Liberty is maintained by responsible freedom. ~Roger W Hancock,

The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion. ~Edmund Burke

We anarchists do not want to emancipate the people; we want the people to emancipate themselves. ~Errico Malatesta, l'Agitazione, 1897 June 18th

First, freedom is never free; in fact, it has always been bought at great cost, whether on the battlefield, in the legislative assembly, in the law courts, in the schoolroom, or in synagogues, temples or churches. Also, it is never self-perpetuating, but has had to be rewon again and again... ~Author unknown, 1960s

We are free, truly free, when we don't need to rent our arms to anybody in order to be able to lift a piece of bread to our mouths. ~Ricardo Flores Magon, speech, 1914 May 31st

Many politicians are in the habit of laying it down as a self-evident proposition that no people ought to be free till they are fit to use their freedom. The maxim is worthy of the fool in the old story who resolved not to go into the water till he had learned to swim. ~Thomas Macaulay

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Last saved 2021 Mar 22 Mon 18:25 PDT

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