Resources for Learning about the Classical Liberal Tradition on the Online Library of Liberty

onlinelibraryoflibertyUn aperçu en anglais du travail magistral de David Hart sur le site du Liberty Found : the Online Library of Liberty

From: Dr. David M. Hart, Director of the Online Library of Liberty Project, Liberty Fund, Inc. Email <>.

Date: July 19, 2013
[Follow the OLL on Facebook <//>.]

I wanted to bring you up-to-date with some of the new and improved material on the OLL website which might be useful to you and your people in teaching and learning about the free market and classical liberal tradition. I am available to come to talk to any of you about the Online Library of Liberty and how it can be used in your education programs. I am also available to talk to groups about some of the research and publishing programs I am working on at Liberty Fund, in particular the 6 volume Collected Works of Frédéric Bastiat for which I am the Academic Editor. We have found that groups are particularly interested in the writings of Bastiat as many people have already heard of him and his works are quite approachable for those who are new to the issues.library-of-liberty

Liberty Fund’s Online Library of Liberty has 1,424 books in its collection (as of July 2013). They are organised into 

  • Groups of authors (such as “Historical Periods,” “Schools of Thought” and “Debates”) and
  • Collections of texts (such as “Topics,” “Subject Areas,” and “Special Collections”).

To assist readers in learning about the broad spectrum of people and ideas which make up the classical liberal, free market, and conservative traditions we have prepared a number of anthologies, reading guides, and online discussion forums. The anthologies of texts are useful for providing shorter, more accessible versions of key texts for use in the classroom or by members of discussion groups who wish to deepen their understanding of classical liberal thought. The quotations provide short, pithy, and hard-hitting statements on key issues which have preoccupied classical liberals over the centuries. The online discussion forum is where experts in the field debate the strengths and weaknesses of key figures in the classical liberal tradition. All of these resources provide the reader with a brief bio of the author, an introduction which places the text in its historical context, some commentary on why the extract is important, the highlighting of key passages, and links to related material in the OLL to encourage further reading. These resources include the following:

  1. Quotations about Liberty and Power – every week a quotation from one of the OLL texts is posted on the front page of the website. There are now over 400 quotations in the collection.
  2. The Best of the OLL – chapter length extracts from some of the most important books in the OLL are made available in various eBook formats (PDF, ePub, and Kindle) for classroom use and reading on portable devices. These chapters will eventually be arranged into an anthology or “OLL Reader” which should be a useful introduction to the classical liberal tradition.
  3. Liberty Matters: A Forum for the Discussions of Matters pertaining to Liberty – We have asked leading scholars and invited guest commentators to reflect upon how some of the authors whose works are part of the Online Library of Liberty have defended individual liberty, limited government, free markets, and peace over the past 300 years.

More details about each of these resources is provided below.

1. Quotations about Liberty and Power.

Since the OLL went public in March 2004 we have posted a quote of the week on the front page of the website. These now number 425 (as of July 19, 2013). The quotation comes from one of the texts in the collection of titles in the Online Library of Liberty. Its aim is to explore what some key thinkers have to say about some aspect of humankind’s struggle for liberty against the individuals and institutions which sought to tax, regulate, control, enslave, conscript, or kill him/her. After nine years this collection of quotations provides a valuable resource which shows the diversity and richness of these texts. One way I have used the quotations in my lecturing, say on the basic principles of libertarian thought, is to get students to read a selection of quotations on topics such as natural rights, utilitarianism, and property rights, in order to stimulate some discussion and debate among them. Another purpose of course is to teach them that these debates are not new and that we still have much to learn from our intellectual forebears. Some examples of how I have used the Quotations in my teaching can be found at this page on my personal website <//>.

Each quotation has an image of the author with a link to that author’s main page in the OLL website where all their works in the OLL are listed, a brief commentary on why the quotation is important, the brief version of the quotation which appeared on the front page of the website, a longer version of the quotation showing some broader context, and a link back to the book from which it came. Thre are also links to other related material in the OLL.

The quotations are categorized by theme and provide a useful survey of the history of classical liberal thought over the centuries. The themes covered include the following:

Colonies, Slavery & Abolition | Economics | Education | Food & Drink | Free Trade | Freedom of Speech | Law | Liberty | Literature & Music | Money & Banking | Natural Rights | Odds & Ends | Origin of Government | Parties & Elections | Philosophy | Politics & Liberty | Presidents, Kings, Tyrants, & Despots | Property Rights | Religion & Toleration | Revolution | Science | Socialism & Interventionism | Sport and Liberty | Taxation | The State | War & Peace | Women’s Rights

2. The Best of the Online Library of Liberty

The newest resource is “The Best of the OLL” which is a collection of chapters from some of the most important and influential books on liberty in the OLL collection. As of July 2013 there were 51 chapters in the collection each one of which is available in a variety of eBook formats (ePub, text PDF, and Kindle). Each extract is preceded by a brief biography of the author and some explanation of why the text is important, and followed by links to other related material in the OLL.

We have arranged the collection into themes in order to illustrate the breadth and depth of the classical liberal and free market tradition. It should serve as a useful guide to those who would like to explore this tradition further. Our aim is to eventually have enough material for an online anthology of classic texts called “The OLL Reader” modeled on David Boaz’s The Libertarian Reader which was published in 1997.

As the extracts appear they are listed at the OLL website here  <> and announced on the OLL Facebook page <>.

They have been organised under the following themes:


This is a work in progress which will be expanded in the weeks to come. A full list can be found here  <//>.

Related to “The Best of the OLL” collection is “The Best of Bastiat” collection which is a sample of some of the best material in Liberty Fund’s 6 volume edition of The Collected Works of Frédéric Bastiat (2011-). They are chapter length extracts and have been formatted as pamphlets for easier distribution. They are available in a variety of eBook formats (ePub, text PDF, and Kindle). These extracts should be useful in the classroom, discussion groups, or material for a literature table for outreach. I have used them with considerable success in the many lectures I have given around the country on the life, work, and continuing importance of Frédéric Bastiat.

3. Liberty Matters: A Forum for the Discussions of Matters pertaining to Liberty

In “Liberty Matters” forum we have asked leading scholars and invited guest commentators to reflect upon how some of the authors whose works are part of the Online Library of Liberty have defended individual liberty, limited government, free markets, and peace over the past 300 years.

The OLL hosts a Liberty Matters discussion every second month. The discussion begins with a “Lead Essay” written by a leading scholar in the field to which other scholars respond in shorter essays, critiques, and comments. The Lead Essay is posted in the first week of every second month beginning in January 2013. The “Response Essays” are posted a week later and then the authors reply to each other’s posts in the weeks that follow. The discussion is concluded at the end of the month. Wherever possible we link the discussion to the books, biographies, bibliographies, essays, and other material in the OLL collection. This is especially the case when the scholars refer to actual passages in the book under discussion. We provide a link from each quoted passage to the paragraph in the original book where this can be found. This is to enable and encourage readers to read the book for themselves and make their own assessment of the validity of the points being made in the discussion. We hope teachers and students will make use of this material in the classroom.

Each “Liberty Matters” discussion is posted as one file in order to make it possible for teachers and students to download or print it for classroom or private use. At the end of the month the entire discussion is posted online in various eBook formats (ePub, text PDF, and Kindle).

To date we have had discussions on the following topics started by the scholar whose name appears in the title:
Eric Mack, “John Locke on Property” (January 2013)

  1. Geoffrey Brennan, “James Buchanan: An Assessment” (March, 2013)
  2. Roderick Long, “Gustave de Molinari’s Legacy for Liberty” (May, 2013)
  3. Robert Leroux, “Bastiat and Political Economy” (July 2013)

To see the discussions in HTML format: <//>.

To download the completed discussion in eBook formats: <//>.

Further Information

Please contact the Director of the OLL if you have any questions concerning how to use the resources of the OLL to achieve your educational goals.
Email: <> or <>.

The OLL’s “Fair Use Statement” is as follows:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.

Dr. David M. Hart
Director, Online Library of Liberty Project
Academic Editor of the Collected Works of Frédéric Bastiat
Liberty Fund Inc.
8335 Allison Pointe Trail #300
Indianapolis, IN 46250-1684

Reception: 800-866-3520 or 317-842-0880
Direct: 317-348-4680

Website: <//>

Pax ac libertas (Locke)
Nihil quod est contra rationem, est licitum (Overton)
Manus haec inimica tyrannis, ense petit placidam sub libertate quietam (Sidney)

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