Liberty and Responsibility in the American Anti-slavery Movement
This conference explored the role that the ideas of liberty and responsibility played in the elaboration and articulation of the American antislavery movement. In particular, the conference addressed several broad questions: To what extent was the American antislavery movement a product of notions of liberty, freedom, and responsibility, or were…
Liberty and Order in the Thought of Alexander Hamilton
This conference explored the thought of Alexander Hamilton with regard to politics, human nature, and economics with special attention to the relationship of liberty and order in the American Constitution.
Liberty, Compact, and Covenant: the Iroquois League
This conference examined the continuing debate surrounding the level of influence that Native American ideas of federalism and political alliance had on the Founders, while placing focus on broader issues. What do the ideas and political forms of Native American cultures imply for our thinking about liberty and the institutional…
ALL History CONFERENCES
Magna Carta, Ancient Liberties, and America
This conference examined the history of Magna Carta in England and then turned to the American perception of that history to evaluate the claim that America's political history is continuous with that earlier tradition of law and politics. The endeavor was to better understand the influence of Magna Carta, and…
Liberty and Power in the Mexican Revolution
Using a combination of primary and secondary sources, this conference explored the Mexican Revolution (1910–1920), a pivotal event in the history of liberty in North America.
Liberty, Education, and the Economic Interpretation of the Constitution: The Charles Beard Thesis at the Century Mark (1913–2013)
This conference, marked the centenary of Charles Beard's An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States, examined the “Beard thesis” by reading key selections of Beard's original book, important critiques of Beard by Forrest McDonald, Martin Diamond, and others, and then considered the resurgence of “neo-Beardianism” among contemporary…
The Place of the 1848 Revolutions in the History of Liberty
In 1848 there were revolutions in most major European states except Great Britain. These are often seen as failures, but they also had long-lasting consequences, some beneficial to the cause of liberty and limited government, others not. Classical liberals were leading actors in the revolts, but some other classical liberals…
Settler Constitutionalism and the Quest for Liberty and Property in Colonial British America, 1687–1732
Conferees investigated the early formation of American constitutional thought and practice in order to understand how a society of self-governing individuals and communities came into being through the lived experience of settlers from England and Europe.
The Dutch Maritime Republic, Liberty, Free Trade, and Self-Government
This conference explored the rise of the Dutch Republic as a naval, commercial, and financial power in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Issues of the political structure of the Dutch Republic were examined, with special attention to precursors of federalism. The relationship between domestic governance and international trade and commerce…
The Modern Dialogue of Liberty: From the French Revolution to the Disintegration of the British Empire
The aim of this conference was to examine two crises in France and England as they were understood both at home and abroad. This conference explored the fate of liberty through these crises in its relation to political upheaval, civil confrontation, nationalism, and war.
Convivencia and Reconquista: Freedom and Responsibility in Medieval Spain
This conference reviewed the history of Islamic Iberia (al-Andalus) with particular emphasis on the complex state of intercommunal relations and their effects on individual freedom.
Liberalism in Nineteenth-Century Colombia and Venezuela
Despite their geographical proximity and apparent similarities, Colombia and Venezuela experienced two different types of liberalism, which led to different political traditions. The colloquium explored how the idea of liberty created different notions of political and economic freedom and independence, both institutionally and individually.
The Progressive Origins of Financial and Banking Regulation
What were the economic and, in particular, the financial and monetary assumptions of the Progressives? How deeply did these ideas take hold of American perceptions of markets and money? Are they still the leading ideas of our own day? These and other questions were the focus of this conference on…
Liberty and the Fall of Empires
Conferees examined the fall of the multinational empires of East Central Europe, with a focus on Austria-Hungary, to discuss the relationship between individual and national liberty.
Liberty and History in the Muqaddimah of Ibn Khaldun
The objective of this seminar was to explore Ibn Khaldun's insights on history, economics, and sociology in a manner that provoked reflections on their anticipation of ideas normally associated with later Western scholarship, and the relationship of Ibn Khaldun's views to his religious context.
Liberty and History in the Thought of Benedetto Croce
The conference explored the thought of Benedetto Croce (1866–1952), one of the most prominent Italian intellectuals of the twentieth century. Conferees examined the nature and limits of his liberalism within the context of his writings on history, aesthetics, politics, and ethics. The conference was timed to coincide with the 150th…
Freedom, Empire, and Conflict in Two Greek Wars
This colloquium explored why the Athenians and Spartans transitioned from placing such strong emphasis on autonomy to seeing themselves as empire-builders.
Liberty and Society in the Revolutions of 1989-1991
In 2009–11 the countries of Central Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union marked the twentieth anniversaries of the opening of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Communist political and economic order. The stunning speed and generally peaceful nature of the revolutions, to say nothing of their ultimate…
Socratic Seminar on the Legacy of Lord Acton
The conference explored the nature of history, liberty, faith, and power through a Socratic engagement with Lord Acton's writings.
Liberty and the Question of Empire
This colloquium discussed the concept of liberty within the context of empire. Specific emphasis was placed on the relationship between the augmentation of national (State) power and imperialism. The ultimate goal of this conference was the examination of the relationship between liberty and power, as the latter is distributed and…
The Diffusion of Liberty and Democracy in Nineteenth-Century Spanish America
As many Latin American countries began to gain their independence from Spain during the nineteenth century, the Constitution of the United States frequently served as the basis for the construction of their political institutions. Florentino Gonzalez, whose work helped shape the constitutional debates in many Latin American countries, was a…
The Age of Revolutions and the Making of Brazil
This was a conference on the significance—for the kind of society that exists in Brazil today—of the historical episodes that began with the despotic enlightened government of Marques de Pombal in Portugal and ended with the establishment of a liberal monarchy in already independent Brazil in the middle of the…
President Ronald Reagan’s Developing Perspective on Liberty
Conferees examined the degree to which the concept of liberty gave Reagan's political policies practical direction and philosophical coherence, with the aim of understanding both the shortfalls and the accomplishments of his presidency and the extent to which they can be related to his ideals of liberty and the free…
The Constitutional Convention and the Framework for Liberty
This colloquium explored the key debates of the Constitutional Convention as the delegates attempted to create a government strong enough to protect citizens, but not so powerful as to endanger liberty.
Herbert Hoover’s Crusade against Collectivism and the Challenge to Liberty
The conference examined Herbert Hoover's ongoing criticism of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal and Harry Truman's Fair Deal as well as the justification for their programs as outlined in speeches and addresses. It also provided a critical assessment of Hoover's economic policies and his defense of his program.
Livy and the Genesis and Nature of Ancient Roman Liberty
Via a reading of the first five books of Livy's History of Rome, this colloquium explored the genesis and nature of Roman liberty under the early monarchy and republic.
Tacitus and Tyranny
This conference examined the process of rising tyranny in first century AD Rome, as presented in the Annals and Agricola of Tacitus. These works are important for the insights they offer on how tyranny can replace republican institutions, how tyrants manipulate the language and institutions of liberty to their own…
Ordoliberalism and the Market Economy
This conference asked if the nature of the German economy owes more to the liberal aspects of the social market idea or to its statist aspects, or some combination of the two. Is it a real form of classical liberalism?
Roger Sherman, Ordered Liberty, and the Creation of the American Republic
The conference revisited Roger Sherman's importance to the Revolutionary and Founding periods through the most complete collection to date of his most important work published by Liberty Fund.
Liberty and the Authoritarian and Totalitarian Challenges to the Liberal World Order
Conferees discussed whether a new economic order is gestating to replace the one developed under the Pax Americana after World War II, and the room for liberty in this putative new order.
Political Restraint in a Democratic Age: The Presidency of Calvin Coolidge
This conference analyzed the central aspects of President Coolidge’s public career and the public teachings he attempted on behalf of American constitutionalism and citizenship, using original sources from Coolidge's own writings and other relevant documents.
Civil War and Liberty in the Writings of Henrico Caterino Davila and Lord Clarendon
The conference used readings from histories by Enrico Caterino Davila and Lord Clarendon to examine the French Wars of Religion and the English Civil War. Both writers drew wider lessons about the nature of politics and human action, in particular how the schemes of ambitious men, weak government, and religious…
Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land: The Bible, Liberty, and the American Founding
Conferees examined texts of the Bible that influenced modern political thought respecting the proper forms and functions of government in a free society, giving particular attention to the debates over American independence.
Liberty, Liberalism, and Property Rights in Mexico
Conferees examined the evolution of the rule of law and of limited and representative government in Mexico as understood from the history of private property rights in that country.
The Magna Carta, Liberty, and History
This colloquium explored the origins, historical interpretations, and importance for individual liberty of the Magna Carta.
Politics in Shakespeare before and after the English Civil War
This conference considered three Shakespearean originals in company with their Restoration revisions in order to explore the way that art comments on the politics and history of England.
The US-UK Special Relationship: A Study in Liberty
The 'Special Relationship' is a phrase used to describe the close relations between the United Kingdom and the United States. The purpose of this conference was to understand the causes and circumstances that furthered the special relationship and with it the cause of liberty.
John Quincy Adams and Liberty
This colloquium examined signal episodes in John Quincy Adams’s career, as secretary of state, president, and congressman, that shed light on his conception of the free society and his philosophy of domestic and foreign affairs.
Plagues and Liberty
Drawing on historical case studies, this virtual conference explored the impacts of plagues and pandemics on different societies, particularly the long and short term effects on social norms, economic relations, and political liberties.
Liberty and the State in the Social Gospel Movement
In this colloquium, we looked not at the Progressive politicians who were influenced by the Social Gospel movement, but directly at the most important Social Gospel thinkers themselves. Our colloquium dealt largely with two seminal figures of the period (Walter Rauschenbusch and Richard T. Ely), in addition to drawing on…
Turning Points in American Liberty
The conference explored the continuities of and changes to the idea of liberty in America through major turning points as illustrated in prominent public addresses and documents from the colonial era to the present.
The American Revolution: A Critical Comparison with the 1688 English Revolution and the 1789 French Revolution
The conference explored the differences and similarities of Great Britain’s "Glorious" Revolution of 1688, the American Revolution, and the French Revolution with regard to sources and institutional significance for a free society.
British Sources of American Constitutionalism
This conference explored theoretical sources of the American constitutional order by drawing upon British thinkers and Montesquieu's account of the English constitution's division of powers.
Forrest McDonald on the Economics of the Founding and on the Decline of American Federalism
This conference examined the writings of Forrest McDonald on two subjects he wrote about extensively: economics in the early Republic, and the importance of states’ rights and its decline.
Domination and Liberty in the Early Roman Empire
The conference explored issues of monarchical rule in ancient Rome through the writings of Seneca, Pliny the Younger, and Tacitus.
Empire, Religion, and Liberty in the Thirty Years War
The Thirty Years’ War was one of the most influential events in the history of early modern Europe. Drawing on both classic and revisionist accounts, this colloquium explored the causes and consequences of the war. In particular, the sessions investigated how the conduct and conclusion of the conflict affected the…
Safeguarding British Liberty: The British Debate over Colonial Resistance (1764–1776)
This conference examined a long-neglected trove of pamphlet literature from late-seventeenth-century Britain on the role of English liberties and federalism in the Empire. Far from revealing a united opposition to colonial arguments for local self-governance, Englishmen were quite capable and willing to consider liberty in the context of greater decentralization.
Alexander Hamilton on Executive Power as the Guarantee of Liberty
This colloquium examined the nature of executive power through the thought and writing of one of its greatest proponents, Alexander Hamilton. The readings were arranged to first examine the theoretical influences on Hamilton’s political thought; second, the shape of the institutions he envisioned; and finally, the way he sought to…
Freedom and the Right to Keep and Bear Arms
The purpose of this conference was to investigate the once revered right of self-defense and civil resistance to tyranny that was a central value of the old Whig and ancient republican traditions.
Liberty and Responsibility in “The Spectator”
This conference introduced conferees to a wide range of readings from The Spectator and The Female Spectator and encouraged them to explore the ways in which these periodicals attempted both to reflect and shape the burgeoning commercial culture of eighteenth-century England.
The Family and Republican Liberty in Early America
Conferees discussed readings from early America showing the connection between republican political principles and family practices in raising and training children.
Morant Bay and the Eyre Controversy
This conference examined the historical and philosophical meaning of the “Eyre Controversy.” In the Morant Bay rebellion in Jamaica, the British military brutally suppressed and slaughtered hundreds of predominantly black land-rights protesters in the colony. The rebellion sparked a seminal event in the history of classical liberalism that bridged the…
The Contest for Liberty in the Ratification Debate
This conference examined the arguments for and against ratification of the Constitution as presented in two anonymous sets of newspaper essays, those of a leading opponent to the Constitution, “Brutus,” and those in favor of ratification by “Publius” (well known today as the Federalist Papers).
Liberty in the Writings of Forrest McDonald
This conference examined the writings of Forrest McDonald related to the foundations of the American Constitution and some of the major alternative arguments in the writings of other historians. We examined the economic origins of the Constitution, basic constitutional institutions, the role of Alexander Hamilton in founding the Republic, and…
Liberty and Responsibility in the Making of the Modern South
The American South has often been distinct from the rest of the United States on the question of liberty. This conference considered liberty and responsibility in the American South from post-Reconstruction (1870s) through the years of transition (1960s). Readings focused on race, education, and the economy in the New South.
America’s Founders and the Influence of the French Revolution
This conference explored the Founding Fathers' considerations, deliberations, debates, and sometimes quarrels about French politics and the Revolution and the fate of the hitherto idealized partnership between the old French nation and the young American republic.
The Sacred Rights of Conscience: The Development of Religious Liberty in America, 1610–1835
This conference explored the issue of religious liberty in America through Liberty Fund's volume, The Sacred Rights of Conscience: Selected Readings on Religious Liberty and Church-State Relations in the American Founding.
Thomas Jefferson: Revolutionary?
Conferees considered foundational themes in the writings of Thomas Jefferson, including his understanding of liberty and self-government, and the significance—if any—those views have for understanding America today.
Slavery and the New History of Capitalism
Numerous historians, generally untrained in economics but with very clear economic ideas in mind, have produced an outpouring of scholarly works on the "New History of Capitalism." Their works share a strong inclination to view all economic relationships as essentially relationships of power. This colloquium explored the most prominent of…
Liberty, Security, and the Congress of Vienna
This proposed colloquium, to be held in Vienna in 2015 to mark the bicentennial of the congress, will address the history and legacy of the Congress of Vienna. It will investigate the impact of the congress on the history of liberalism and will invite discussion about the project of the…
The Italian Maritime Republics and the Origins of ‘Good Government’
This conference continued previous colloquia explorations of cultural conditions and institutional arrangements that facilitated the rise of the free commercial states in the Middle Ages by turning to the Italian Maritime Republics (Genoa and Venice, particularly) and by investigating the manners in which their freedom and prosperity were secured and…
Liberty and 1776
The conference explored the concept of liberty emerging from several key texts published in 1776: Thomas Paine's Common Sense, Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, John Adams's Thoughts on Government, and Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence.
Liberty and Imperial Authority in the Townshend Act Crisis
Conferees examined a selection of primary materials relating to the Townshend duties, a critical moment when American revolutionary thought about colonial and individual liberties and their implications for the imperial order reached their fullest and most radical expression.
Liberty under the Tudors in Hume’s “History of England”
The conference paired selections from David Hume's The History of England discussing four of the Tudor monarchs–Henry VII, Henry VIII, Edward VI, and Mary–with appropriate essays from Hume's Essays: Moral, Political and Literary in relationship to Hume's interest in the historical development of a plan of regular liberty in the…
Political Liberty in Revolutionary Times: Mme. de Staël and Alexis de Tocqueville on the Causes and Aftermath of the French Revolution
This colloquium paired the writings of Germaine de Stael and Alexis de Tocqueville on the causes, events, and legacy of the French Revolution. Both thinkers used their meditations on the Revolution as a preparation for more general philosophies about the requirements of political freedom and the sources that endanger that…
Liberty, Power, and the Magna Carta
For nearly eight centuries, the Magna Carta has been associated with the cause of individual liberties against the power of the state. In this conference, we read the Great Charter alongside notable historical interpretations and modern commentary to gain greater understanding about its role in the past and future of…
Statesmanship and the Treaty of Versailles
On the centenary of the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, this conference reviewed the main primary source documents connected to the treaty as well as the secondary scholarship on the history and repercussions of this important event.
Franklin’s Political Thought, Liberty, and the American Revolution
The Autobiography is a primer of liberty in all of its forms and especially as framed by the vast social and political promise of the new world in America. Almost all the readings for this conference are contained in the Library of America edition of The Writings of Benjamin Franklin.
On the Liberties of History
The purpose of this colloquium was to examine the manner in which history is understood and interpreted, and, in so doing, to consider what lessons history might offer for our understanding of both liberty and the free society.
Liberty, Modernity, and the Fall of the Weimar Republic
This colloquium explored whether and how the Weimar Republic and the complex interactions of its cultural, economic, and political dimensions contain enduring lessons about the fate of freedom in the context of modernity.
Religious Liberty in Eighteenth-Century England and Colonial America
Through a consideration of primary texts, we considered freedom of conscience and the authority of the church, and the relation between church and state, as the issues developed in England and its North American colonies.
Liberty and the Color Line in the Post-Civil War Period
Using the work of four important African-American authors, this colloquium explored the concept of liberty by examining the role of racial identity and self-consciousness among Black Americans during and immediately after Reconstruction.
The History of Liberty According to Benedetto Croce
The intent of this conference was to examine the thought of Benedetto Croce with particular reference to his treatment of the subject of history and liberty. This treatment illuminated the sense in which liberty (political, economic, and cultural) depends upon and shapes history.
The East India Company and the Birth of the Modern Corporation
This colloquium focused on the history of the East India Company as a model for state interference and ultimately the politicization of decisions by corporations.
Liberals and Liberty in 1812 Spain and Beyond
This conference explored Spanish liberalism. Much of the conference focused on Spain's 1812 Constitution—said to be the most liberal in Europe at the time of its framing—but we also explored aspects of pre-1812 liberal thought in Spain as well as works by two twentieth century Spanish liberals.
Liberty and State-Building in the Americas
Participants in this colloquium discussed and compared the processes of independence in the thirteen colonies and Spanish America.
Liberty and the Mexican Revolution
Observers of Mexico have widely viewed the Porfiriato, which featured liberal public discourse, as a dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz, while conversely viewing the Mexican Revolution of 1910 that overthrew Diaz and led to the deeply illiberal Constitution of 1917 as a sort of liberation movement. The conference discussed this fascinating…
Liberty, Markets, and Ideas in the Work of Joyce Appleby
This conference examined the major works of Joyce Appleby in the areas of the history of economic ideas, the role of those ideas in America and their implications for liberalism and liberty in the early republic, and the wider implications of this perspective for our understanding of history.
Liberty, Civil Society, and Community: West and East
This conference provided a basis for discussing the degree to which civil society is the product of cultural and historical circumstances and/or a common human nature. The conference attempted to explore these issues by comparing phenomena of private voluntary associations and philanthropic organizations in the traditions of both West and…
The Ideal of Saxon Liberty in France and England
This conference examined the nature and history of the Saxon ideal of liberty and the degree to which it influenced the culture and laws of Britain and other parts of Europe for generations to come.
Populism, Liberty, and Progress in Friedrich von Gentz and Thomas Babington Macaulay
This conference focused on two views of the American experience: Friedrich von Gentz's positive comparison of the American Revolution with that of the French, and Thomas Babington Macaulay's critique of the Constitution as "all sail and no anchor."
The Gregorian Revolution: Liberty and the Fragmentation of Power
This colloquium explored the ideological origins and content of the so-called Western Civilization by examining the notion of individualism—its power, authority, and legitimacy—with emphasis on the historical period of Pope Gregory VII. We also explored the evolution of these concepts during the last century and their consequences for economic progress.
The Stamp Act Crisis and the Debate Over Liberty and Imperial Authority 1764-1766
This conference discussed the imposition of the Stamp Act and the initiation of the movement that eventually culminated in the American Revolution by examining those sources directly related to the themes of republican government-taxation, economic regulation, and law that directly affect the subject of the American conception of liberty.
The French Revolution and the European Imagination-Liberty and Terror
Utilizing a combination of literary and historical texts, this conference explored the French Revolution’s significance for a range of European writers in the generation immediately following the Revolution’s conclusion, for it is this generation who was first able to look back upon—and attempt to understand—the Revolution in its entirety.
Republican Constitutionalism and International Law: Constitutional Resistance During the Progressive Era
This conference examined the views of "constitutional conservatives" from the first two decades of the twentieth century on constitutional government, executive power, direct democracy and political parties, and foreign policy.
Liberty and the New History of Capitalism
How have institutions—and especially the institution of slavery—shaped economic growth and opportunity in the United States, and how does this impact discussions over liberty in American history and public policy today?
Liberty, History, and Hero-Worship
This conference examined the major competing ideas of liberty in the explanation of historical processes. Are economic and material processes independent of human action, or is some human elite completely responsible for directing such processes? This conference examined some of the principal contenders in these debates over the character and…
Liberty, Leadership, and Citizenship: Episodes in American History
This conference for business and community leaders examined citizenship and the essentials of American civic life and institutions. Each session took an in-depth look at central documents from American history that elucidate the American understanding of freedom.
Hugo Grotius and Modern Liberty
This conference explored the ideas of property rights, contract, and trust in Grotius, as well as his overall conception of a liberal political order. The primary texts used were The Rights of War and Peace and Commentary on the Law of Prize and Booty.
Hume’s Narrative of Liberty: On Civil War, the Protectorate, and Restoration
This conference explored David Hume's account of civil war, regicide, and restoration in his History of England. The conference drew upon volumes five and six of History of England, beginning with the reign of James I and going through the Restoration of the English monarchy.
Liberty and Responsibility in the Political Thought of Frederick Douglass
The conference explored Douglass's political philosophy and how it addressed vital questions of liberty and responsibility.
The Search for Liberty in the Slave Narratives of Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs
The slave narratives of Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs celebrate American democracy even as they critique the chattel slavery that binds them. Some of the overall questions for the conference concerned the common use of religion in the work of these writers. Moreover, the writings of Douglass and Jacobs offer…
Gilded Ages in America
Conferees discussed the Gilded Age, similarities that exist with our own age, and the lessons we may draw about how best to protect the ideal of a free society today.
From Covenant to Monarchy: Liberty, Authority, and Order in the Hebrew Political Tradition
This conference examined questions of liberty and authority as presented in the history of Israel from the exodus from Egypt, through the era of Judges, the establishment of a monarchy and the ascension of Solomon to the throne.
Liberty and the Framers’ Conception of the Presidency
This conference explored the intentions of the Framers relating to the role of the Executive under the new Constitution, as well as Woodrow Wilson's critique of the original design.
John Marshall and His Critics: Judicial Review, States Rights, and Liberty in the Early Republic
This conference explored the constitutional, political, and legal aspects of John Marshall’s role as US Supreme Court justice. Issues explored included the federal versus the state governments, the role of the court, the national bank, and judicial review. In addition, critics of Marshall and his brand of federalism were examined, and his…
Liberty, Leadership, and the Images of the Battle of Salamis
This conference examined the implications for a free society of military preparedness and international engagement through the historical experience of the Battle of Salamis among the Greek city-states in general and Athens in particular. Is a modern free society like that of an ancient polis with respect to liberty? Are…
The Levellers and the Origins of Anglo-American Constitutionalism
The conference had two aims: to explore the key ideas of the Levellers, with particular attention to their arguments for toleration, religious liberty, and governmental reform based on principles of limited government, individual sovereignty, and broader suffrage; and to consider how these ideas continue to make themselves felt in constitutional…
Essaying Liberty in Hume’s “The History of England” in the Reign of Elizabeth
This conference used selections from Hume's Essays and the fourth volume in The History of England to focus on the role of religion and other historical factors in England's constitutional development during the reign of Elizabeth.
The Constitutional Vision of Gouverneur Morris
This conference provided an overview of the political thought of Gouverneur Morris through an examination of his speeches, correspondence, and his contributions to the debates at the Constitutional Convention, and his work as author of the final draft of the Constitution.
The Federalists, the Anti-Federalists, and the Constitution They Created
This colloquium repeated a highly successful colloquium on the central debate between Federalists and Anti-Federalists during the formative period of the United States Constitution, approaching the texts from a somewhat unique perspective: the Constitution as a product of both Federalists and Anti-Federalists, as opposed to merely the triumph of its…
Liberty and the Indiana State Constitution
This conference discussed the role of a state constitution within our general federal constitutional system and its role in the protection of liberty through an examination of Indiana's distinctive constitutional life, tracing its roots in early colonial experiences and the Revolution up through the formation of the current Constitution of…
Understanding the Declaration of Independence in Historical Context
This conference set the Declaration of Independence in historical context. Through an examination of the various petitions and protests preceding its issuance, conferees addressed these questions: What was the understanding of liberty operative in the minds of most Americans at the time of the Revolution? Did this conception of liberty…
Strategy and Liberty in Thucydides’ “Peloponnesian War”
This conference attempted to address the following questions: How should a free society conduct itself in the context of a perilous world? What are the limits to which a thriving commercial society can extend control over events and conditions outside its borders? To what degree can a republic project power…
World War I, the United States, and the Challenge to Liberty
The year 2017 marked the centenary of America's entry into World War I. This conference investigated the reasons the United States entered the war, the effects of the war on American politics and society, and the consequences of the war for the liberties of Americans.
Liberty and the Idea of the West
This conference examined the Western tradition of liberty under law, and the role of the Middle Ages and of Christianity in the long evolution of Western liberty. Finally, it addressed the question of whether or not the concept of the West should be understood more broadly than simply equating it…
Liberty and Order in the Work of Andrés Bello
This colloquium explored the relationship between order and liberty in the work of Andrés Bello. Conferees considered the sources of his thought, Bello’s legacy in Latin America, and his possible value for a wider audience today.
The Founders after the Founding
This conference compared and contrasted the views of five prominent Founders (Washington, Hamilton, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison) on the Constitution at the time of its adoption and then later in their careers.
Edward Gibbon on Liberty, Virtue, Despotism, and the Decline of Nations
This colloquium addressed one of the main questions coming out of Gibbon's Decline and Fall: How did the greatest empire in the history of Western civilization decline and collapse? In searching for an answer, Gibbon pointed to several causes, among which were the loss of liberty, the rise of various…
Liberty and the Transition from Poverty to Progress in Twentieth-Century Chile
While most other countries in Latin America have struggled to maintain economic growth and political stability during the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, Chile is an interesting exception. Despite economic progress and liberal politics, there is significant dissatisfaction with the state of Chile, particularly among middle-class citizens. This colloquium…
The Russian Revolution and the Challenge to Liberty
Conferees explored the history of the Russian Revolution and the nature of the challenges to individual liberty it posed.
Herbert Butterfield: History, Truth, and Liberty
Using two of Herbert Butterfield's most important works (The Whig Interpretation of History and The Englishman and his History), this seminar explored the role and responsibilities of a historian in a free society.
Charles V and His Bankers –– Fiscal Crisis and Institutions
The object of this conference was the development of political institutions in different parts of Charles V's empire as a response to his fiscal needs. Taxation, public finances, and political representation evolved, pressed by his needs to raise current revenues, and to mortgage future revenues to fund his military campaigns.…
Federalism and State Interposition in the Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries
This conference examined the role of the states as checks upon national authority and asked to what degree is that role encompassed in the original design of the Constitution, and/or to what degree they are later innovations.
Liberty, Democracy, and the Nineteenth Amendment
This conference examined the arguments for equal political rights for women from the Revolution through the adoption of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920.
Liberty and Authority in the Feudal Era in Hume’s “History of England”
This conference explored the first two volumes of David Hume's History of England; the period from William the Conqueror to Henry V, with special attention to the establishment and role of Magna Carta and the beginnings of constitutional monarchy. It raised themes, such as limited government, in Hume's History of…
The Birth of a New American State: Indiana
This conference on the bicentennial of the state of Indiana discussed the foundational elements of American constitutional liberty and treated the territorial history of Indiana and its organization. It included a discussion of the Constitution of 1816 and elements of it that survive in the Indiana Constitution of 1850.
Henry Clay, the American System, and the Politics of Liberty in Antebellum America
Conferees examined political thought and practice in early and mid-nineteenth-century America through the thought and political battles of Henry Clay, who helped shape American policy from the War of 1812 until the 1850s.
Liberty, Nationalism, and Revolution in Ireland
Conferees used the history of the Irish independence movement to consider questions about the nature of liberty and its relationship to nationalism, national identity, and political independence.
Exploring the Bounds of Liberty: The Middle Period
Conferees explored the meaning of liberty among the English colonists of North America, continuing the examination of texts begun with the first volume of Liberty Fund's Greene and Yirush editions of Exploring the Bounds of Liberty. Where the first conference took up the earliest texts from the late seventeenth and…
Liberty, Civil War, and the Reasons Americans Fought
This conference evaluated the reasons why the Civil War was fought through an examination of the various statements and communications, both public and private, of those who fought it. The aim was to evaluate the degree to which particular ideas about personal, political, and regional liberties motivated participants and how…
Liberty, Markets, and Institutions in German and American Economic Thought
This conference explored the different bases for both the German and American schools of institutional study from their origins in the nineteenth century to the present. We examined how the scholars of both countries have approached the question of liberty and order as it related to economic institutions and historical…
Liberty and Politics in the Era of Reagan and Thatcher
This conference explored the political parallels between the politics of Reagan and Thatcher through a selection of writings and historical commentary.
Roger Sherman, Ordered Liberty, and the Creation of the American Republic
Throughout many years of service at the state and national level, Roger Sherman evinced a commitment to protecting and promoting ordered liberty, yet it is surprising how little scholarship has actually been devoted to him. This conference explored the important contributions of Sherman to the American founding.
The Declaration of Independence in Multiple Contexts
The conference first explored some of the differences in scholarly approaches to the Declaration, then moved from the immediate history of the Declaration to the various and different contexts that followed independence.
The Progress of Liberty: Enlightenment, Liberalism, Fin de Siècle
This conference explored some of the shifts in understandings of liberty during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This period might be characterized as one in which liberty found itself in a variety of crises, as the legacies of the Glorious and French Revolutions made themselves felt politically, and as many…
Essaying Liberty in Hume’s “History of England” from the Commonwealth to the Glorious Revolution
This conference examined Hume's History of England covering the period from the Commonwealth to the Restoration to the Glorious Revolution of 1688. The history readings were paired with appropriate selections from Hume's Essays.
Capitalism, Historians, and Lessons for Liberty
In 1951 Friedrich Hayek organized a session at the Mont Pelerin Society meeting with speakers Bertrand de Jouvenel, Louis Hacker, and T. S. Ashton. In 1954 their presentations, along with two other reprinted articles by Ashton and H. W. Hutt, were published as the book Capitalism and the Historians. This…
Liberty and the Foundations of the Executive Branch
This conference examines primary documents debating the form and nature of power in the office of the president and other officials in the executive branch. These issues divided not only the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists but also caused conflict within the Federalists, and they remain important matters today.
Hoover’s “Freedom Betrayed”: A History of World War II and the Cold War
This conference read extensive selections from Herbert Hoover's Freedom Betrayed, edited for publication by George H. Nash and published by the Hoover Institution Press. This volume offers both a critique of Franklin Roosevelt's foreign and war policy from one of his major contemporary critics, and Hoover's analysis of world events…
Liberty, Responsibility, and the Forgotten Founding Fathers
Conferees considered the contributions and legacies of three “forgotten” Founding Fathers: Charles Carroll of Carrollton, John Dickinson, and James Wilson.
Beyond “The Federalist”: The Debate over the Constitution Considered in Historical Depth
The conference examined the foundations of the Constitution using primary materials that included portions of the debates at the Philadelphia Convention and a number of the state ratification conventions, public addresses, pamphlets, and private correspondence by advocates both for and against the proposed document.
Liberty and Authority in the Republican Thought of John Adams
In many respects, John Adams was the strongest link between the American colonial experience and English common law ideas, often being regarded as overly conservative by his American co-revolutionaries. In fact, his understanding of factionalism and political/social interests reveals a profound appreciation of the difficulties facing liberal polities. Conferees examined…
Economics and Republican Liberty in Hamilton and Gallatin
This conference evaluated the different perspectives on government finance and its relationship to a free society in the thought of Alexander Hamilton and Albert Gallatin. Special attention was paid to their views on Constitutional interpretation and political economy.
Liberty, Empire, and Nationalism in the Spanish-American War
This colloquium examined the causes, conduct, and aftermath of the Spanish-American War. In particular, readings explored the impact of the war on American foreign policy in general and what challenges those changes posed to individual liberty.
Liberty and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (Rzeczpospolita)
Conferees examined the unique tradition of liberty that developed in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (the Rzeczpospolita) and how this history can inform our broader understanding of republican liberty.
Liberty in Times of Crisis: Madame de Stael and Others on the French Revolution
Through readings from Madame de Stael, Hippolyte Taine, and Helen Maria Williams, conferees considered how liberty, authority, and justice interact in times of institutional crisis and radical power shifts.
Four Ways to Freedom: Cultural Traditions of Liberty in America
This colloquium examined American core values and ideas about liberty in light of its past, especially the cultural traditions or “folkways” of those who came from different parts of England. Do these regional differences in British culture account for the different views of liberty that have guided Americans ever since,…
Thucydides and Xenophon on Civil-Military Relations and Liberty in the Peloponnesian War
This conference explored the vital issue of civil-military relations as they unfolded in The Peloponnesian War of Thucydides, revealing the critical nature of getting such relations right so as to provide most effectively for the defense of a free society.
Liberty, American Foreign Policy, and the Monroe Doctrine
This conference investigated the history of the Monroe Doctrine: how it evolved and how it helped to frame American foreign policy. Which of the doctrine’s interpretations and articulations have been historically most favorable to the security of the American republic, to the freedom of individual Americans, or to both?
Liberty, Democracy, and Independence in Gran Colombia
This conference explored how leading thinkers from Gran Colombia (the union of Ecuador, New Granada, and Venezuela, organized under a single state between 1819 and 1830) conceived the notion of liberty and democracy during the period of independence.
The Prospects of Freedom: Origins of Twentieth-Century Liberalism
The conference examined classical liberal reactions to the rise of totalitarian regimes in Germany and elsewhere in the early twentieth century through contemporary readings written in response to these political developments.
Freedom and the American Reconstruction Era
This conference sought to better understand the ideas and social context that shaped the era known as Reconstruction in the former states of the Confederacy. We attempted this task by presenting mostly primary texts to give conferees the opportunity to examine for themselves the principal ideas and leaders of the…
Latin American Populism and Neo-populism
Populism in Latin America was analyzed using both classical cases of populism from the twentieth century and cases of neo-populism in the twenty-first century.
Liberty, Leadership, and the Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher
This conference brought together a group of professional women and considered liberal political principles and leadership in modern society through selected readings by and about Margaret Thatcher.
The Dutch Revolt and its Consequences for Liberty
This conference invited conferees to consider a range of texts that discussed the extent to which liberty, both economic and religious, helped make possible the Dutch Golden Age and possibly subsequent freedom in New Netherlands and America.
Trust and Economic Growth in Brazil
The conference, conducted in Portuguese, explored why certain regions of Brazil have more social capital, such as personal security, than others, and why Brazil and other Latin American societies have failed to build as much social capital as other Western societies.