CHAPTER 16 | Document 4

John Trenchard, Cato's Letters, no. 68

3 Mar. 1721Jacobson 177--78

To live securely, happily, and independently, is the End and Effect of Liberty; and it is the Ambition of all Men to live agreeably to their own Humours and Discretion. Nor did ever any Man that could live satisfactorily without a Master, desire to live under one; and real or fancied Necessity alone makes Men the Servants, Followers, and Creatures of one another. And therefore all Men are animated by the Passion of acquiring and defending Property, because Property is the best Support of that Independency, so passionately desired by all Men. Even Men the most dependent have it constantly in their Heads and their Wishes, to become independent one Time or other; and the Property which they are acquiring, or mean to acquire by that Dependency, is intended to bring them out of it, and to procure them an agreeable Independency. And as Happiness is the Effect of Independency, and Independency the Effect of Property; so certain Property is the Effect of Liberty alone, and can only be secured by the Laws of Liberty; Laws which are made by Consent, and cannot be repealed without it.

All these Blessings, therefore, are only the Gifts and Consequences of Liberty, and only to be found in free Countries, where Power is fixed on one Side, and Property secured on the other; where the one cannot break Bounds without Check, Penalties or Forfeiture, nor the other suffer Diminution without Redress; where the People have no Masters but the Laws, and such as the Laws appoint; where both Laws and Magistracy are formed by the People or their Deputies; and no Demands are made upon them, but what are made by the Law, and they know to a Penny what to pay before it is asked; where they that exact from them more than the Law allows, are punishable by the Law; and where the Legislators are equally bound by their own Acts, equally involved in the Consequences.

The Founders' Constitution
Volume 1, Chapter 16, Document 4
The University of Chicago Press

Trenchard, John, and Gordon, Thomas. Cato's Letters. In The English Libertarian Heritage, edited by David L. Jacobson. American Heritage Series. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1965.

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