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Quotations About Liberty

Updated on September 1, 2019
Colleen Swan profile image

Colleen, a lover of the written word, has a master's degree in English literature and enjoys finding unique and poignant quotes.

Hand in Hand We Walk As Equals


All men enter this earth freed from the bond of the mothers cord. Those that walked before them built the steps of freedom, and many will climb them. Albert Kellen

If the self-discipline of the free cannot match the iron discipline of the mailed fist, in economic, political, scientific, and all the other kinds of struggles, as well as the military, then the peril to freedom will continue to rise. John F. Kennedy

In order that a people may be free, it is necessary that the governed be sages, and those who govern gods. Napoleon

Equality is the luxury of the few who in turn impose the present status upon the masses. Gilbert Flanders

Our government is based on the belief that a people can be both strong and free, that civilized men need no restraint but that imposed by themselves against abuse of freedom. Franklin D. Roosevelt

The rights which a man arrogates to himself are relative to the duties which he sets himself, and to the tasks which he feels capable of performing. Nietzsche

What man wants is simply independent choice, whatever that independence may cost and wherever it may lead. Dostoevsky

Progression Towards The Ideal is Prone to Human Error


Struggling For Liberty

You should never wear your best trousers when you go out to fight for freedom and liberty. Henrik Ibsen

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

Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their own disposition to put moral chains on their own appetites. Edmund Burke

No man’s life, liberty, or properties are safe while the legislature is in session. Gideon J. Tucker

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

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

We all declare for liberty, but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. Abraham Lincoln

Loosening The Shackles


The Right to do What The Law Permits

The law will never make men free; it is men who have got to make the law free. Henry David Thoreau

When there are too many policemen, there can be no liberty. When there are too many soldiers, there can be no peace. When there are too many lawyers, there can be no justice. Lin Yutang

Liberty is curtailed in that you only have the right to do what the law permits. Unknown

He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression. Thomas Paine

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty. John F. Kennedy

Unrestricted Speech

At no time is freedom of speech more precious than when a man hits his thumb with a hammer. Marshall Lumsden

I am not so much concerned with the right of everyone to say anything he pleases as I am about our need as a self-governing people to hear everything relevant. John F. Kennedy

Free speech is about as good a cause as the world has ever known. But, like the poor, it is always with us and gets shoved aside in favor of things which seem at some given moment more vital. Heywood Broun

The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously. Hubert H. Humphrey

Creativity Cannot Be Suppressed


Holding Onto Our Rights

Rights that do not flow from duty well performed are not worth having. Mohandas K. Gandhi

Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith let us to the end do our duty as we understand it. Abraham Lincoln

I am the inferior of any man whose rights I trample underfoot. Robert G. Ingersoll

In giving rights to others which belong to them, we give rights to ourselves and to our country. John F. Kennedy

Nobody talks more passionately of his rights than he who, in the depths of his soul, is doubtful about them. Nietzsche

As a man thinks so is he, and as a man chooses so is he. Emerson

To The Exalted Their "Inferiors" Are Equal to One Another


Retained as Nostalgia

The misfortune which befalls man from his once having been a child is that his liberty was at first concealed from him, and all his life he will retain the nostalgia for a time when he was ignorant of its exigencies. Simone De Beauvoir

What is it that every man seeks? To be secure, to be happy, to do what he pleases without restraint and without compulsion. Epictetus

Liberty, next to religion, has been the motive of all good deeds and the common pretext of crime. Lord Acton

Liberty is one of the imagination’s most precious possessions. Ambrose Bierce

It is the individual man in his individual freedom who can mature with his warm spirit the unripe world. Christopher Fry

A race preserves its vigor so long as it harbors a real contrast between what has been and what may be; and so long as it is nerved by the vigor to adventure beyond the safeties of the past. Without adventure civilization is in full decay. Alfred Lord Whitehead

Achievement Entails Struggle


The Choice and The Voice of Expression

Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth. John F Kennedy

Freedom is nothing else but the chance to do better. Albert Camus

I also believe that academic freedom should protect the right of a professor or student to advocate Marxism, socialism, communism, or any other minority viewpoint - no matter how distasteful to the majority. Richard Nixon

The American feels so rich in his opportunities for free expression that he often no longer knows what he is free from. Neither does he know where he is not free; he does not recognize his native autocrats when he sees them. Erik H. Erickson

The man is only half himself, the other half is his expression. Emerson

Alternatives, and particularly desirable alternatives, grow only on imaginary trees. Saul Bellow

Precision of communication is important, more important than ever, in our era of hair-trigger balances, when a false or misunderstood word may create as much disaster as a sudden thoughtless act. James Thurber

It is your own conviction which compels you; that is, choice compels choice. Epictetus

When Laws Are too Stringent The Human Spirit is Suffocated


The Right to Self-Determination

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. Martin Luther King

No Marxist can deny that the interests of socialism are higher than the interests of the right of nations to self-determination. Lenin

If a nation values anything more than freedom, it will lose its freedom; and the irony of it is that if it is comfort or money it values more, it will lose that, too. Somerset Maugham

Everyman is the architect of his own fortune. Sallust

Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom. Einstein

Wild liberty breeds iron conscience; natures with great impulses have great resources and return from afar. Emerson

Every spirit makes its house; but afterwards the house confines the spirit. Emerson

Man is a masterpiece of creation, if only because no amount of determinism can prevent him from believing that he acts as a free being. George Christopher Lichtenberg

Peace And Equality Are Intertwined


The Option to Choose Our Future

It is by the fortune of god that, in this country, we have three benefits: freedom of speech, freedom of thought, and the wisdom never to use either. Mark Twain

Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves. William Pitt

It is far more important that one’s life should be perceived than that it should be transformed; for no sooner has it been perceived, than it transforms itself of its own accord. Maurice Maeterlinck

I believe the only people who truly experience and test the application of equality are twins. Janis Joplin

To know how to free oneself is nothing; the arduous thing is to know what to do with one’s freedom. Andre Gide

The will is never free; it is always attached to an object, a purpose. Joyce Cary

Politicians Love to Talk About it


The Self-Righteous Seek to Put Others in Chains

True freedom is to share all the chains our brother wear; and with heart and hand to be earnest to make others free. James Russell Lowell

So long as the people do not care to exercise their freedom, those who wish to tyrannize will do so; for tyrants are active and ardent, and will devote themselves in the name of any number of gods, religious and otherwise, to put shackles upon sleeping men. Voltarine de Cleyre

In childhood a woman must be subject to her father; in youth to her husband; when her husband is dead, to her sons. A woman must never be free of subjugation. The Hindu Code of Manu

The notion that the church, the press, and the universities should serve the state is essentially a Communist notion… In a free society these institutions must be wholly free; which is to say that their function is to serve as checks upon the state. Alan Barth

Liberty is the only true riches; of all the rest we are at once the masters and the slaves. William Hazlitt

We Should Not Impose Value Systems Upon The Reluctant


Autonomy or Dependence

There is a road to freedom. Its milestones are obedience, endeavour, honesty, order, cleanliness, sobriety, truthfulness, sacrifice, and love of the fatherland. Adolf Hitler

Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. Frederick Douglass

You can have peace. Or you can have freedom. Don’t ever count on having both at once. Lazarus Long

Though we love goodness and not stealing, yet also we love freedom and not preaching. Emerson

What does any man want? To be left alone with his life, and have some hope of making that life what he wants it to be. L. R. Jones

Independence is for the very few; it is a privilege of the strong. Nietzsche

Adlai Stevenson Wrote:

  • In America, any boy may become president and I suppose that’s just one of the risks he takes.
  • A free society is one where it is safe to be unpopular.
  • If we value the pursuit of knowledge, we must be free to follow wherever that search may lead us. The free mind is no barking dog to be tethered on a ten-foot chain.
  • We have confused the free with the free and easy.

It's Often Better to Give to Society Than Attempt to Gain From It


The American Spirit

It was in making education not only common to all, but in some sense compulsory on all, that the destiny of the free republics of America was practically settled. James Russell Lowell

Democracy is a process by which the people are free to choose the man who will get the blame. Laurence J Peter

There is one quality more important than “know-how” and we cannot accuse the United States of America of any undue amount of it. This is “Know-what” by which we determine not only how to accomplish our purpose, but what our purposes are to be. Norbert Wiener

I look forward to a great future for America; a future in which our country will match its military strength with our moral restraint, its wealth with our wisdom, its power with our purpose. John F. Kennedy

Wealth Itself Does Not Always Provide Contentment


The Quest Towards Progress

The history of the world is none other than the progress of the consciousness of freedom. Hegel

A man is either free or he is not. There cannot be any apprenticeship for freedom. L. R. Jones

The cause of liberty becomes a mockery if the price to be paid is the wholesale destruction of those who are to enjoy it. Mohandas K. Gandhi

The virtue of a free man appears equally great in refusing to face difficulties as in overcoming them. Spinoza

It is not enough to understand what we ought to be, unless we know what we are, and we do not understand what we are, unless we know what we ought to be. T. S. Eliot

Liberty is never out of bounds or off limits; it spreads wherever it can capture the imagination of men. E. B. White

It is possible to believe in progress as a fact without believing in progress as an ethical principle; but in the catechism of many Americans, the one goes with the other. Norbert Wiener

The greatest achievement of the civil-rights movement is that it has restored the dignity of indignation. Frederic Wertham

Take Care Not to Become Like Those You Seek to Conquer


Times Must Change

Of freedom: The real thing is in flux; we discover it when we fail without punition. Charles Romero

Independence is the supreme good; it is freedom from self-imposed limitation. Elbert Hubbard

Man’s estate is as a citadel; he may throw done the walls to gain what he calls freedom, but then nothing of him remains save a dismantled fortress, open to the stars. And then begins the anguish of not-being. Source: Wisdom of the Sands by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

We gain freedom when we have paid the full price for our right to love. Tagore

Despotism accomplishes great things illegally; liberty doesn't even go to the trouble of accomplishing small things legally. Balzac

The hungry and the homeless don't care about liberty any more than they care about cultural heritage. To pretend that they do care is can't. E. M. Forster

Pursuit of Sovereignty and Peace

Is life so dear or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, almighty god! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death. Patrick Henry

Just what is that America stands for? If she stands for one thing more than another it is for the sovereignty of self-governing people. Woodrow Wilson

If the world knew how to use freedom without abusing it, tyranny would not exist. Proverb

It must be admitted that liberty is the hardest test that one can inflict on a people. To know how to be free is not given equally to all men and all nations. Paul Valery

It is a worthy thing to fight for one’s freedom; it is another sight finer to fight for another man’s. Mark Twain

♦ Finally we conclude with this quote by Woodrow Wilson: Liberty does not consist in mere general declarations of the rights of man. It consists in the translation of those declarations into definite action.


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