The Development of Liberalism


Ancient Greek Democracy

Approx. 507 B.C. - Approx. 300 B.C.

The Ancient Greek democracy was one of the first democracies to exist, people do not elect representatives to vote on their behalf but vote on legislation and executive bills in their own right. Voting was not permitted by all of the citizens, at the time women were not allowed to participate as well. Democracy had help to influence other

Magna Carta

1215 CE

The Magna Carta is a document that is one of the most celebrated documents in English history. It is an agreement that solved the conflict between King John and his men over taxes and disputes with the Pope. Magna Carta is recognized as foundation of the idea of the liberty of citizens.
The content of the Magna Carta was designed to re-balance power between the King and his subjects and limits the power of rulers. It introduces the idea of lawful process and the idea of a jury. In other words, the kings would not have as much power as before.
The Magna Carta led to the constitutional rule of today and also influenced the American Constitution and to the Bill of Rights. One of the clauses in the Magna Carta defends the freedom and rights of the English Church; another confirms the liberties and customs of London and other towns.


Approx. 1400 - Approx. 1600

The Renaissance was a time of cultural, social, intellectual, political, and artistic reform that spread across Europe. This could be seen as a bridge from the Middle Ages to the modern times.


Approx. 1517 - Approx. 1648

The Reformation is the name given to the restructuring of the Church in Europe. It began with a German pastor named Martin Luther who believed the Church had become corrupt and possessed too much power. He demanded the Church to be reformed, over the next few years through the influence of humanism, new dominations were constructed according to various ideas, such as decision-making based on reason, which made the power of the Church waned and faith of the rational nature of human beings grew.

Haudenosaunee Confederacy

Approx. 1550 - Approx. 1776

The Haudenosaunee Confederacy encompasses the sovereign Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora nations. They came together by abiding the “Great Peace of Law”. The key principles of the Great Peace of Law are division of powers among the government, equal participation, including women, rights and freedom to speak one’s mind and follow their choice of religion, this was one of the first democratic systems the world has ever had.

Industrial Revolution

Approx. 1760 - Approx. 1840

The Industrial Revolution resulted in extreme changes in the social, economic, and political aspects of the lives of all citizens. Several factors contributed to the revolution such as, technology, private property, individual rights and freedom and self-interest and competition.

American Revolution

Approx. 1776

American colonies declared independence from Great Britain and created a form of government that was controlled by its citizens. American colonies suffered under the control of British monarchy’s rule for a long time and even after the American Revolution.
American citizens were no longer abused by the a foreign government after the American Revolution.

French Revolution

Approx. 1789 - Approx. 1799

During the French Revolution, people fought for equality rights and freedom. The people wanted freedom from the harsh class structure in which the upper class and the members of the Church had more rights than regular citizens. The people got fed up with this injustice and eventually, the Declaration of the Rights of Man was signed in 1789.

The Enlightement

Approx. 1800

European philosophers helped promote the ideas about human nature that led to the development of classical liberalism. The Enlightenment or Age of Reason promoted the belief in the principles of classical liberalism.

Changes to the Class System

Approx. 1900

Society began to change as the ideas of classical liberalism began. Social classes began to die away while a class structure based on wealth started to emerge. Classical liberalism valued the individual as unique and encouraged more economic opportunities. It valued private property and economic freedom. Under classical liberalism, people had greater opportunities to become wealthy and join a higher economic class.