Representative Government

A Representative Government Reading List

Prepared by John Samples

Read This First

  • The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay (1788)
    Essential reading on American liberty and constitutional design. Federalist no. 10 will repay a lifetime of re-reading and reflection.

On the American Experiment in Limited Government

On the Proper Role of Government

  • The Law by Frederic Bastiat (1850; Irvington-on-Hudson , NY : Foundation for Economic Education, 1998)
    Describes the foundations of government and of what goes wrong when government becomes an instrument of “redistribution” rather than justice.
  • Two Treatises on Government by John Locke (1690)
    A classic and timeless statement of the principles of individual liberty and limited government that had a major influence on the founding of the American republic.
  • The Constitution of Liberty by F. A. Hayek (University of Chicago Press, 1960)
    A modern defense of limited constitutional government. Hayek’s criticism of merit as distributional principle and his essay “Why I Am Not A Conservative” are especially vital.

On Government Failure

On the Growth of Government

On the Foundations of Liberty and Limited Government

  • The Politics of Faith and the Politics of Skepticism by Michael Oakeshott (Yale University Press, 1996)
    A quirky English libertarian/conservative with a devoted following. Those who practice the politics of faith are always a danger to liberty. Read this once and you’ll see what he’s talking about everywhere.
  • Four Essays on Liberty by Isaiah Berlin (Oxford University Press, 1969)
    In “Two Concepts of Liberty,” Berlin shows why the theory of positive liberty led to totalitarian nightmares in the twentieth century.
  • In Pursuit – of Happiness and Good Government by Charles Murray (Simon & Schuster, 1988)
    A leading libertarian policy analyst lays out the case for freedom. His analysis of the “little platoons” of society reconciles freedom and community.