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Other Social and Behavioral Sciences | Political Science | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration


Francis Lieber: Transatlantic Cultural Missionary, in Francis Lieber: The Culture of the Mind. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2005, pp.129-42. Research done under a Wilbur Foundation grant.


Lieber remained consistent in his commitment to institutional liberty. He had no notion of a distinction that would later be made between property rights and human rights. He consistently encouraged economic free enterprise in his teaching and writings. Even the rise and fall of nations he regarded as simply part of a much larger picture. National institutions permit the encouragement of commerce and interdependence among nations. This, in turn, puts absolutism on the defensive. Growing interdependence permits the principle of institutional liberty to operate on a global scale as well as locally. It is this third characteristic of the modern epoch—the flourishing of many nations “in the bonds of one common moving civilization—that seems to have been the greatest encouragement to Lieber’s hopes for the continued growth of liberty.