A Good Definition of “liberty.”

Over at the Volokh Conspiracy, Dale Carpenter quotes Abraham Lincoln on a topic that—with the dueling political conventions—is supremely relevant: what one person sometimes considers “freedom” another considers to be anything but. As always, Lincoln is stunning to read:

The world has never had a good definition of liberty, and the American people, just now, are much in need of one. We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men’s labor. Here are two, not only different, but incompatible things, called by the same name — liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatible names — liberty and tyranny.

The full speech this quote comes from (an “Address at a Sanitary Fair,” given April 18, 1864) can be read here.