Liberty and Self-Government: Richard Price and the 1776 British Freedom Debate


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


Political Science


The meaning and value of individual freedom was the core issue in an unusual philosophical debate that took place in Britain while the American Revolution was raging across the Atlantic. Dozens of writers responded to the democratic theory of freedom proposed by the dissenting minister Richard Price in his bestselling “Observations on the Nature of Civil Liberty” (1776). Price defended the claims of the American colonists by arguing, on moral and theological grounds, that the core principle of freedom is individual and communal self-government. The dissertation studies the hitherto neglected 1776 British Freedom Debate between Price and his critics, recovering arguments for the intrinsic relation between individual liberty and democratic participation in politics.