Development of Classical Liberalism


Ancient Greek Democracy

508 BC - 322 BC

The revolutionary idea presented by the great thinkers of Athens and of Greece was the democratic system of governance. People didn’t elect representatives to vote for them however the people themselves, though only a select few with strong political presence, voted in their own right. This gave the common people the power to protect their individual rights by voting in their own interests which is a driving factor for liberalism today

Magna Carta


A document which limited and conserved the powers of the monarchy and royalty of Britain. It balanced the powers between the King and the all the classes below him on the social spectrum. No individual was above the law and it introduced a lawful process to enforcing the law towards all equally. This document made a drastic change to “The divine right of Kings” and gave to common people access to individual rights and basic standard fundamental freedoms.


1450 - 1600

The Renaissance sparked the understanding of the individual within a greater society. It was a time of discovery and the resurfacing of Greek and Roman thinking. Acting as a smooth transition from the Middle Ages to modern times, the Renaissance was also responsible for great social, intellectual, political, and cultural reform. Humanists emerged and developed the idea that people can have reason and that the structure of society, and the meaning of existence can all be based upon it.

Haudenosaunee Confederacy

1500 - 1776

The first inclusive and participatory democracies of the world, 6 first nation tribes came together to make the Great Law of Peace. Each tribe had a role to play in the democratic order and leaders were elected on their merits. The tribes were the Mohawk, Onondaga, Cayuga, Tuscarora, Oneida, and the Seneca. The revolutionary principles of the Great Law of Peace were the inclusion of women in the democratic order, equal participation, freedom of speech and thought, and rights. It is recognized for influencing some of the great thinkers in the following years such as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson whom helped establish the American Constitution.


1517 - 1648

Time of the reconstruction of the Church in Europe. A German pastor, Martin Luther, voiced his concerns that the Church had become corrupted with power and was straying from its true purpose and needed reforming. Again, as from the Renaissance, the humanist idea that people can make their own sound decisions based on reason and human nature. Self-interest, equality, individual rights, and personal freedoms were given higher priorities than following the ruling of the Church and the restrictions it imposed upon the people.

Industrial Revolution

1700 - 1800

A time when technological inventions and innovations appeared which resulted in massive improvements to the cultivation of food, goods, and any sort of mass produced materials. People began to demand greater and better political rights and individual and economic freedoms. Self-interest also was gaining precedence as the middle class became wealthier and began to purchase land.

American Revolution

1776 - 1783

The colonies set up in America were being taxed heavily and incredibly high tariffs were placed upon their imports and such. America finally broke away from Great Britain the tyrannical rule they were forced to obey. This started the American Revolution, a war between the settlers and Britain which lead to them writing the Declaration of Independence for the United States of America. The war acted as a symbol for self-insurance and interests of the people and for future generations, for freedom and equality, for rights.

French Revolution

1789 - 1799

French society was split into social divide, the working people had little power, government representation, and little to no rights and freedoms. Due to the King Louis' poor spending and poor financial investments in the American Revolution. Due to this, the French people were being taxed heavily which lead to poverty and people dying of hunger and exposure.

Revolt occurred as the people stood up for their rights against the government and for their liberal freedoms. The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen was created which essentially stated that the government was to preserve the rights of its people.

Changes to the Class System


After thousands of years of class separation and inequality, this period marked the time where distinct classes diminished and power came from wealth and ownership of land. This created a new class system where one isn't hindered from which class one is born into.



With a wealthy middle class emerging and political unrest due tot he spread and acceptance of radical ideas, many philosophers began communicating their ideas/ideologies regarding reasoning, human nature, and freedom. Peoples thinking began to change in this period as logic superseded faith and science, trust in the nature of a human, and rational thinking which led to the industrial revolution.