The Development of Liberalism Timeline


Ancient Greek Democracy

Approx. 5 BC

Between the 4th to 5th BCE, Athens Greece expressed a government system that allowed men political rights and freedoms. The idea of their system of democracy was that the citizens had a say in the choices made by the government, and the ideology of participation of all was brought to the political process. The word democracy is driven from words of language meaning the entire body of citizens and rule. This expressed the idea that everyone was entitled to participate in the government and their decision making. “ Any citizen could speak to the assembly and vote on decisions by simply holding up their hands. The majority won that day.” In this quote, the direct representation of what democracy is was expressed.

The Ancient Greek Democracy contributed to the development of classical liberalism in saying that everyone individual has the right to vote; unlike before where only certain upper classes had authority. This government system has impacted and influenced countries still to this day. The ideology that every individual has rights and liberties continues worldwide and influenced philosophers to change their entire social class government system.


Magna Carta

Approx. 1215

Magna Carta meaning “ The Great Charter” was originally issued by King John of England from roughly around 1199. Established officially in 1215, the Magna Carta states that everyone is entitled to be subjected to the law. Remaining today in parts of the British Constitution, the Magna Carta was an extremely important document rewritten on numerous occasions to be moulded to the proper era. The clauses stated everything from who was allowed to seek justice to who it is mandatory for to pay taxes. This constitution was created to created a sense of justice among even the highest.

The Magna Carta was impactful on the era of classical liberalism because it stated that even back in 1215, everyone was entitled to follow and obey a certain control. This demonstrated that even the higher power was under a control that everyone was entitled too no matter their social ranking.



Approx. 1300 - Approx. 1600

The Renaissance era from the 14th to 16th century was considered to the the “ Rebirth” of a nation. Following the Middle Ages, the Renaissance was a time of development, research, and change. Ending the feudal system, the growth of commerce, and potential for growth of knowledge improved significantly. Wisdom and idealism was the newly accepted founding principles of numerous philosophers. Humanism and achievements in education of nations started to compete more and more.

The Renaissance was an extremely important impacting event in our history because of the amount of classical liberalism that was present. A chase of competition involving opposing nations encouraged individualism significantly. Philosophers all over were able to express their thoughts and ideas if it were a benefit for society, and therefore allowed individuals to express their ideologies and opinions significantly more than during the Middle Ages.


Haudenosaunee Confederacy

Approx. 1400 - Approx. 1776

The Haudenosaunee Confederacy is a recognition of the coming together of several nations coming together as one in history. Continued to date, the Mohawk, Oneida , Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, Tuscarora, Wyendot, Delaware, as well as Tutela Nations recognize their confederarcy. By 1776, the Six First Nations had already join this confederacy. The purpose of this confederacy being to provide peace thoughtout many of North America’s geographical locations.

The Haudenosaunee Confederacy was relevant to the ideology of classical liberalism even if they weren’t a part of the European society because each of the nations were all considered to be equal towards each other, and before the law. The principles behind individualism and individual rights and freedoms were present among these nations long before the ideas even came to be in Europe.



Approx. 1516 - Approx. 1650

The Reformation period took place between around 1516 to the 1650’s. Leading the Reformations were philosophers such as Martin Luther and John Calvin; their goal being to reestablish the branches of demands given by the church - more specifically the Roman Catholic Church. Questionable ideologies of powerful manipulations such as political rights, taxing, and power of the clergy were put into question. Indulgence of corrupt ideas held by the power of the church were revealed to the public and the reformation of religious beliefs and values of religion developed further.

Classical liberalism was part of the influence behind the Reformation. Having individuals reflect on the manipulation of the church allowed this event to occur. Having individuals allowed to express their opinions were also factors of the impact of classic liberalism. A perfect example being Martin Luther, an individual able to create a new version of a better religion free of injustice in decision making and power.



Approx. 1700 - Approx. 1800

The Enlightenment was a movement that took place during the 17th and 18th century that was dedicated to improve society. Ideas involving the church, reasoning, nature, as well as humanity were developed worldly and helped to further education for all. Development in arts, philosophy, politics, and other mattered helped improve nations.

Classical liberalism allowed the enlightenment period to take place because of the definition behind it. Allowing individual rights and freedoms and encouraging individualism allowed the development of technologies, society, and religion. The involvement of all citizens instead of just the workers encouraged the elimination of standard social class division into coming together to form a greater society.


Industrial Revolution

Approx. 1760 - Approx. 1840

In history, one of the most significant revolutions to take place would be the Industrial Revolution; a time where agrarian and handcrafting were replaced by machine work. Beginning in the 18th century, the technological advancements continued to develop, so much to a point that it replaced an entire war of life. Coal burning for steam engines, electricity, and internal-combustion engines were the replacement for manual labour. Mass production started to become more and more common, and urbanization was much more common the not.

This impacted the classical liberalism period because of the elimination of manual labour. It allowed families of a lower class to guarantee a position, and allowed higher classes to work and contribute to society as well because they were so driven by profit. The development of individualism by your success levels was now possible.


American Revolution

Approx. 1775 - Approx. 1783

The American Revolution, otherwise known as the United States War of Independence took place from 1775-1783, receiving the title of an independent nation in the summer of 1776. The 13 colonies founded by Great Britain had finally wanted to found their own independent nation. In creating an alliance with countries such as France, Spain , and Portugal, the 13 colonies clearly stated their demand for independance.

The American Revolution contributed to the development of classic liberalism by defining its individualism as an independent country. The development of a country reigning free without the power of another government having control over another country is a prime example of the contribution of independence created by the revolutionary idea of classical liberalism in the 1700’s.


French Revolution

Approx. 1789 - Approx. 1799

The French Revolution taking place between 1789 and 1799, marked the difference between the old, and new state of the French government. The revolutionary point in 1789 being the elimination of the "ancien regime” of France was one of the most important acts of France and the lower class levels working with others to overthrow a government system taking advantage of them.

The French Revolution contributed to the development of classic liberalism in gaining justice to all classes, and changing the system dividing social classes. The development of equality, as well as freedom and rights was a large portion of the ideology of classic liberalism and what it stood for.


Changes to Class System

Approx. 1800 - Approx. 1900

During the 19th century, many changes in the class system occurred over time. Starting with the Victorian class society, the divisions between the upper, middle, and working class were all separated very distinctly. Following the Industrial Revolution, Renaissance, Reformation, as well as the Enlightenment, this structural barrier was destroyed. Philosophers from all classes were accepted and the fight for justice of classes were finally in place. It may have still been harder to create your potential based off your previous class, however, now, your work ethic could determine the fate of your future; not the family you were born in.

Classic liberalism changed throughout the 19th century alongside the changes of the social classes. Human rights and freedoms, creativity for all individuals, and acceptance of all previous class divisions changed throughout history in this timeframe. Liberalism founded these events throughout this entire century, creating justice, and rights for all.