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Liberty

political, freedom, slave, exist, people, sense and word

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LIBERTY. This word is the Latin Tiberias. The corresponding Teutonic word is freiheit, or, as it appears in English, freedom.

Liberty and freedom are familiar words with indefinite meanings. • Liber,' the adjective which corresponds to the noun gibertas,' is properly opposed to servus,' or ' slave ; and libertas is the status of a freeman, as opposed to ser vitus, or the status of a slave. This di vision of freemen (liberi) and slaves (servi) was the fundamental division of persons in the Roman law (Gains, i. 9). This word Liberty, then, in its origin in dicates merely the personal status of a man as contrasted with the condition of servitude. In Greek the like opposition is expressed by two other words (Mr EoiAos). But the word Libertas had also a political meaning among the Romans. When the Romans had ejected their last king they considered that they had obtained their Liberty (Livy, ii. 1). The political meaning of libertas (liberty) was derived from the contrast of liberty and servitude in the person of indivi duals; and if the mass of a nation were subjected to the arbitrary rule of one man, that was considered a kind of ser vitude, and the deliverance from it was called libertas, a term which in this sense is clearly derived from the notion of li berty as obtaified by him who was once a slave.

In the Greek writers the words (Sw- 14m and 3oiAor) which respectively signify master and slave were also ap plied in a political sense to signify mo narch and subjects. The Persian king was master (SecrifJrns), and his subjects were slaves (baltot).

The political sense then of liberty and freedom, if traced to its source, is founded on the notions of personal liberty as con trasted with personal servitude. He who became free from being a slave in a re public became a member of the state, in which he formerly had no political exist ence. It is implied by the circumstance of his becoming free that he became a citizen, though positive law, as among the Romans, might limit the degree in which he thereby obtained citizenship. CITIZEN.] Slavery may and did exist in many states of antiquity which were under monarchical or tyrannical rule ; but he who was the slave of an individual in any such state, and obtained his free dom, did not thereby become a citizen, but was merely released from the duty that he owed to his master : he still owed together with others the duty of perfect obedience to an individual monarch or tyrant.

The words liberty and freedom, as political terms, have always been used to express a condition of a people in which they are to some degree at least secured against the arbitrary rule of an indivi dual or of a small number of persons; and the word slavery, in its political sense, is applied to nations in which the mass of the people have not reasonable security for their lives and property against the capricious rule of one man or of a number of persons who form a small minority of the whole.

That which is really meant by po litical freedom and liberty is nothing more than a form of government which shall in some degree at least secure to the people the enjoyment of life and of their property against the tyranny of one man or of a few. Freedom and liberty then are terms which can only be applied to constitutional governments [CoNsTrru Tiozi], and to republics, in the proper sense of that term. There is no political liberty or freedom under any other form of government, though under a monarchy, when the administration is good, there may be in many respects more personal freedom than there is in a pure de mocracy. But the essential quality by which political liberty or freedom is dis tingnished is simply this : the sovereign power is not in the hands of one or of a small minority, but it is either distributed among the whole community or a con siderable part of it.

Political liberty does not exist in some i civilized nations in Europe, in Prussia for instance. Political liberty does not exist in Russia. In some countries where it does not exist, it is the general opinion that its existence would be a benefit to the whole nation. In other countries the mass of the people are still in such a condition that political liberty could not exist, for political liberty, as already stated, means that the sovereign power must be in the hands of a large number, and they must possess intelligence enough to enable them to exercise and keep the power ; but there are nations where the mass of the people are too ignorant to ex r reise or keep any political power.

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