"Liberty, whether natural, civil, or political,
is the lawful power in the individual
to exercise his corresponding rights.
It is greatly favored in law."
Henry Campbell Black
(1860-1927) Founder of Black's Law Dictionary, the definitive legal dictionary first published in 1891, editor of The Constitutional Review (1917-1927)
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Reader comments about this quote:
The right to life, liberty and property, the right NOT to be coerced are natural rights. Unless of course you are trained to an ant hill mentality.
 -- J Carlton, Calgary     
    Amen, J Carlton.
     -- jim k, Austin     
    This sounds like great poetry but I think he failed to add that your liberty ends at every others nose, and the space in between is a no mans land. Your liberty diminishes the further away from your nose and the closer it is to others. It is like air and water. The deeper you go into the ocean the less oxygen there is and the higher you go into the atmosphere the less oxgen there is . Somewhere in the middle from 100 to 50 feet below the surface of the water to 5,000 feet above life flourishes. Maybe liberty needs the same kind of balancing act between the ME idea and the OTHER(S) idea. I don't think the construction of this quote is that great.
     -- Wafler, Smith     
    Liberty is a natural law observation and consequence. Civil and political ties to liberty are but extended misdirected administrative constructs. Liberty, freedom, natural law and inalienable rights were once greatly favored at man's administration of law in a land far, far away, in a time that has been long since forgotten.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
    Waffler, when a mans nose meets the nose of another who has the right is determined by the right, not by the guy who has the biggest nose or not by a majority of big noses as your democracy operates. The protection of the right for all individuals wins out at the end of the day and not the majority who just choose to put their money in a pot which is used to buy off politicians whose main duty is to protect the rights laid out and those not laid out in our Constitution but exist nonetheless. A cursory study of the oath of office and its history proves this out. A deeper study reveals the criminality of members of congress that they've been practicing for a very long time.
     -- Anon     
    We need to vote carefully and rid ourselves of the parasites feeding on the lives of others. We have certainly erred in our voting patterns and have very little time to repair...but repair must be swift or we will not experience this country as Black had presumed while writing his dictionary or editing the Constitutional Review.
     -- aa, hb     
    Anon, pure liberty is not about rights. Liberty recoginzes no rights. To be truly free to do anything you wish is a pure liberty that does not exist except for the most arrogant of individuals. Right has nothing to do with, your liberty comes up against resistance when it encounters other peoples liberties. That is what these series of quotes is all about, wisdom, virtue and the situation of folk living and relating together. We are certainly not at liberty to do many things our pioneer fathers did or do them the same way that they did. Liberty is often about what you can and cannot get away with based on the prevailing social, moral, physical environment etc.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
    Henry Campbell Black is right and these words of wisdom do indeed need heeding. Confusing Liberty with Power results in the kind of circular argument Waffler is trying to make. If a lone individual cannot be trusted with liberty how can a group? How can a group have unlimited liberty but individuals not? True liberty requires the respect of each other's rights -- that is called Justice. When rights are thrown out the window and liberty is traded for power, you have despotism, whether by a majority or a minority. All of us have different knowledge, skills, and abilities (i.e. 'powers') -- the question is whether I may exercise my power in my own way as long as it does not violate the rights of another -- in a free country, the answer is an unresounding 'yes,' and American Common Law upholds it.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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