by Stephen F. Gambescia
One of the earliest lessons we learned in school was likely to include the spirited explanation of Patrick Henry’s “give me liberty or give me death” speech to move colonists to declare independence from the British Kingdom in 1775. By high school, some may have dug deeper into the roots of the American Revolution by reading or hearing some excerpts from Thomas Paine’s famous pamphlet Common Sense. Most social science majors, and certainly political science majors, in college likely worked through John Stewart Mill’s On Liberty (1859). Liberty is what we Americans cherish, and we learned in our history courses about the chains of tyranny brought on by governments.
Civil liberty (not to be confused with civil rights) is a right we are all given by the US Constitution to keep government at bay from encroaching on our person and our property. The Constitution spelled out some limited power we turn over to government to manage society, and just as important the Bill of Rights ensures what we do not want our government to do to us or for us.