The Heritage of Classical Liberalism

"What Is Still American in the Political Philosophy of Thomas Jefferson?" by Joyce Appleby in The William and Mary Quarterly, 3d ser., 39 (April 1982). Appleby reveals the liberalism of Jefferson, who was strongly influenced by the French liberal Destutt de Tracy, and critically examines competing interpretations of Jefferson as a "classical republican."

On Classical Liberalism and Libertarianism, by Norman P. Barry (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1987). A useful overview of liberalism that includes modern figures.

Western Liberalism: A History in Documents from Locke to Croce, ed. by E. K. Bramsted and K. J. Melhuish (New York: Longman, 1978). A valuable selection of original sources on liberal thought; includes translations of French, German, and Italian works.

New Individualist Review (1961-1968; reprint; Indianapolis: Liberty Press, 1981). Contains excellent essays on the lives and thought of influential classical liberals, including Benjamin Constant and Wilhelm von Humboldt (both by historian Ralph Raico).

The Origins of English Individualism, by Alan Macfarlane (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1978). Macfarlane, an anthropologist and historian, demonstrates that individualism and the market order are not recent inventions, but have roots stretching far back into history. This work overturns the traditional division of the history of the west into starkly distinguished "feudal" and "capitalist" periods.

The Levellers in the English Revolution, ed. by G. E. Aylmer (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1975). Valuable collection of documents in the history of liberalism; includes Richard Overton's important essay, "An Arrow Against All Tyrants," which presents the case for each person's "self ownership" as a foundation for property rights.

The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, by Bernard Bailyn (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1967). Bailyn shows the sources of American Revolutionary thought, placing special emphasis on the libertarian ideas of Trenchard and Gordon.

Capitalism and a New Social Order: The Republican Vision of the 1790s, by Joyce Appleby (New York: New York University Press, 1984). An important contribution to our understanding of the liberal, anti-statist program of the Jeffersonian Republicans. Appleby has refuted the interpretations of the Jeffersonians as "classical republicans" uninfluenced by the ideas of liberalism.

The Transatlantic Persuasion: The Liberal Democratic Mind in the Age of Gladstone, by Robert Kelley (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1969). An examination of cosmopolitan liberalism and the movement for free trade.

Benjamin Constant and the Making of Modern Liberalism, by Stephen Holmes (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1984). A sympathetic study of a great French liberal thinker.

The British Political Tradition,vol. 1, "The Rise of Collectivism," 1983; vol. 2, "The Ideological Heritage," 1983; vol. 3, "A Much Governed Nation," parts 1 and 2, 1987, by W. H. Greenleaf (New York: Methuen). A magisterial work on the development of British political thought, framed by the conflict between libertarianism and collectivism. Important for understanding the development of liberalism in English speaking countries.

Individualism and Nationalism in American Ideology, by Yehoshua Arieli (Baltimore: Penguin, 1966). Arieli shows the growth of Lockean liberalism in the new American republic and the later conflict between statist nationalism and liberalism.

Cato's Letters, ed. by Ronald Hamowy (Indianapolis: Liberty Classics, 1994). This is a newly edited and annotated edition of the enormously important set of pamphlets and essays by the radical Whig authors John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon, who popularized the classical liberal ideas of John Locke. These essays were especially important in the spread of revolutionary ideas in America.

The Scottish Enlightenment and the Theory of Spontaneous Order, by Ronald Hamowy (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1987). A valuable overview of the scientific advances made toward our understanding of social order by the thinkers of the Scottish Enlightenment, including Adam Ferguson, Bernard Mandeville, David Hume, and Adam Smith.

All Mankind is One: A Study of the Disputation Between Bartolom de Las Casas and Juan Gins de Sepulveda in 1550 on the Intellectual and Religious Capacity of the American Indians, by Lewis Hanke (DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 1974). A detailed and useful study of one of the most important chapters in the history of the emergence of the ideas of inalienable individual rights. The early pioneers of classical liberalism in the Spanish School of Salamanca not only developed advanced theories of the market, but also of the universally valid individual human rights on which free markets rest.

Return to [Classical Liberal Guide][IHS homepage]