Henderson Prize for the Advancement of Liberty


J. Alleyne
Alliance of Free Democrats (Szabad Demokraták Szövetsége)
László Antal
József Antall
Anti-Slavery Society
Apostles of Jesus Christ
Armed Forces of France (Rochambeau, Lafayette, deGrasse)
Armed Forces of the United States of America (Washington)
Sarah Banks
Henry Brougham, 1st Baron Brougham and Vaux
Hubert de Burgh, 1st Earl of Kent
Thomas Fowell Buxton
Candidates, Presidency of the United States of America, Election of 1800
Catholic Church of Poland (Wyszynski, Glemp)
Charter 77 (Charta 77)
Christian Missions in the Caribbean Colonies of England/Great Britain, Hanoverian Era
Citizens' Committee Solidarity (Komitet Obywatelski Solidarność)
Civic Forum (Občanské Fórum)
Thomas Clarkson
Committee for the Defense of the Unjustly Prosecuted (VONS)
Seventh Congress of the United States of America (1801-1803)
Constitutional Convention of the United States of America, 1787
First Continental Congress
Second Continental Congress
Quobna Ottobah Cugoano
Serjeant William Davy
Democratic Awakening (Demokratischer Aufbruch)
Alexander Dubcek
John Dunning, 1st Baron Ashburton
Olaudah Equiano
Alexander Falconbridge
Federation of Young Democrats (Fiatal Demokraták Szövetsége)
Christian Führer
Hans-Dietrich Genscher
Carlos Glidden
Serjeant John Glynn
Gospels of Jesus Christ, Authors
William Wyndham Grenville, 1st Baron Grenville
Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey
Johannes Gutenberg
Francis Hargrave
Václav Havel
Henry I, King of England
Henry III, King of England
Elizabeth Heyrick
Hungarian Democratic Forum (Magyar Demokrata Fórum)
Independent Self-Governing Trade Union Solidarity (NZPP Solidarność)
Initiative for Peace and Human Rights (Initiative Freiheit und Menschenrechte)
János Kádár
Helmut Kohl
Anne Knight
Stephen Langton
László Lengyel
Thomas Lewis
Mary Lloyd
John Locke
Sir James Mansfield
William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke
Lothar de Maziére
William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield
Zachary Macaulay
Tadeusz Mazowiecki
Augustin Navratil
Miklós Németh
Neues Deutschland, official newspaper of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany
New Forum (Neues Forum)
John Newton
Rezso Nyers
Toussaint L'Ouverture
Parliament of England, 1297
Parties to the Magna Carta of 1215
Elizabeth Pease
Sir Robert Peel
James Phillips
Imre Pozsgay
Public Against Violence (Veřejnost Proti Násilí)
James Ramsay
Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) of England/Great Britain, Hanoverian Era
Rural Solidarity (Wiejska Solidarność)
Samuel Rutherford
Granville Sharp
William Sharp
Christopher Latham Sholes
Social Democratic Party (Sozialdemokratische Partei)
Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade
James Somerset
James Somerset, Benefactors for (Elizabeth Cade, John Marlow, Thomas Walkin)
Samuel W. Soulé
Jonathan Strong
Sophia Sturge
Márton Tardos
Cardinal Frantisek Tomasek
Lucy Townsend
Volkskammer of the German Democratic Republic, 1989-1990 session, Günther Maleuda presiding
Lech Walesa
Josiah Wedgwood
William Wilberforce
Workers' Defense Committee (Komitet Obrony Robotnikow)



Powered by Blogger Pro™

Awarded Monday, November 09, 2009


Demokratischer Aufbruch (Democratic Awakening)

Christian Führer (1943-)

Hans-Dietrich Genscher (1927-)

Initiative Freiheit und Menschenrechte (Initiative for Peace and Human Rights)

Helmut Kohl, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany (1930-)

Lothar de Maziére, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the German Democratic Republic (1940-)

Neues Deutschland, official newspaper of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany

Neues Forum (New Forum)

Sozialdemokratische Partei (Social Democratic Party)

Volkskammer of the German Democratic Republic, 1989-1990 session, Günther Maleuda presiding

The German Democratic Republic was founded on October 7,1949, carved out of the Russian Occupation Zone. (The other portions were ceded to Poland, except for Kaliningrad, which remains part of Russia proper to this day.) The nation gained full sovereignty from the USSR in 1954.

Official executive powers were divided between head of state (Chairman of the Council of State) and the Prime Minister (presided over the Council of Ministers, as in any parliamentary government). The GDR had a unicameral legislature (Volkskammer, represented by the Socialist Unity Party (Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands - SED) and eight other official parties and special interests - collectively, the National Front. The other parties were ruled by the SED, which was ruled by its Central Committee (aka Politburo), which was ruled by its General Secretary.

More than any other Warsaw Pact nation, defection was a serious issue. Between 1949 and 19612, 3.5 million East Germans - one sixth of the populatio - fled to the West.

(Maddrell, Paul (2006) Spying on Science: Western Intelligence in Divided Germany 1945-1961. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 54, 56.)

Republikflucht ("flight from the republic") prompted the GDR to build a heavily-fortified physical barrier along its entire border with West Germany. Work on the Inner German Border began in 1952; some sections were still being built as late as the 1980s.

One escape route removed: West Berlin. In 1962 the GDR began filling in this gap with construction of the Cold War's most visible artifact - the Berlin Wall. Overseeing the project was the Politburo's secretary for security affairs, Erich Honecker.

In 1971 Honecker rose to General Secretary. Predecessor Walter Ulbricht had abandoned the Five Year Plans in 1963 in favor of his New Economic System. The policy allowed some degree of local authority within East Germany's centrally-planned economy. This was more than the German Stalinists - or the Soviets - could tolerate. Honecker led the domestic opposition. Ulbricht was deposed as party chairman, but stayed on as Prime Minister until his death in 1976; Honecker assumed that office as well.

The May local elections signaled the first tremors of the 1989 revolution. While the public vastly supported opposition candidates, the National Front won 98.5% of the vote. The blatant election rigging added to the growing fury against the government, provoking a wave of defections and protests.

On August 23, the border fence between Hungary and East Germany was dismantled under the direction of Hungarian Prime Minister and Henderson Prize laureate Miklós Németh. Until the GDR managed to close the border from its side, 13,000 East Germans fled through Hungary to the West.

Unrest eventually manifested itself in organized protests. Since 1982 Lutheran pastor Christian Führer had led "peace prayers" directed at Communist oppression, held every monday at Lepizig's St. Nicholas Church (Nikolaikirche). On September 4, attendeed staged a nonviolent protest. The tradition stuck, repeating and growing every following Monday.

(Note that St. Nicholas is regarded as patron saint for various groups including merchants and the falsely accused - two common victims of Communism.)

West German broadcasts alerted East Germans to the protests, spurring Monday Demonstrations in many other cities.

September also witnessed the founding of Neues Forum (New Forum), which would become the largest of East German dissident groups. It was not the oldest opposition group; that distinction belonged to Initiative Freiheit und Menschenrechte (Initiative for Peace and Human Rights), which dates back to 1986.

Meanwhile, thousands of East Germans had been fleeing to Prague. Czechoslovakia was the only Warsaw Pact nation where legal travel without visa was possible. A shanty town of refugees grew around the West German embassy.

Ramshackle living conditions caught Western attention. West German foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher negotiated with the two countries an agreement to transport the refugees to West Germany by train. Honecker's government, wishing a domestic setting for a ceremonial formal expulsion of the refugees, insisted that the trains travel through the GDR.

A total of 12,000 refugees were transported by train. A convoy of 7,600 arrived in Dresden on October 3. Thousands flooded the terminal, seeking to board the trains. Protesters delayed the convoy for several days.

In early October a much smaller group of East Germans was shuttled by train from Warsaw to the West.

The 40th anniversary of the GDR fell on October 7. Among the scheduled visiting dignitaries was Mikhail Gorbachev. Many had hopes that the Soviet premier's glasnost and perestroika would come in some form to East Germany. Gorbachev addressed those principles publicly during the celebrations, but Honecker would tolerate no dilution of Stalinist policy. Gorbachev had also stated that the USSR would not intervene in East German domestic policy, so Honecker had nothing to fear from the Soviets.

Civil unrest continued to rise. Two days after the anniversary, Nikolai Church's weekly demonstration attracted 70,000 - 14 percent of Leipzig's population - and 120,000 a week later. Monday Demonstrations had saturated the nation by then.

On October 18, the Politburo met in a special session and ousted Honecker from both his offices. Egon Krenz succeeded the architect of the Berlin Wall as head of party and head of state. Also ousted were several key officials, including Honecker's wife Margo who had served as education minister.

Krenz opened talks with opposition leaders on October 26, and declared amnesty for all demonstrators the next day.

On the day of Honecker's ouster, the GDR opened its Czech border. The Czechs in turn announced on November 3 that it would allow East-West passage through its territory.

Any flocking to the Czech border didn't stem the flocking to protests. The Monday Demonstrations continued to surge. New Forum organized a November 4 demonstration in East Berlin, attracting at least half a million. This was the first such protest televised in East Germany.

Prime Minister Willi Stoph and the entire 44-member Council of Ministers resigned three days later. Hans Modrow succeeded Stoph.

On November 9, the Politburo decided to lift all travel restrictions across the Berlin Wall and the Inner German Border, effective the next day. Public announcement was delegated to Propaganda Minister Günter Schabowski. Not informed of the effective date, he stated that the order was effective immediately.

Tens of thousands of East Berliners flocked to the wall, before the government had a chance to inform the security guards. After frantic telephone calls to superiors, the guards relented, opening all checkpoints. The wall did not come down physically, but it could no longer contain.

The next blow against the regime was delivered by the SED's own state newspaper. Neues Deutschland reported scores of accounts of officials using public monies for personal use. In The Fal of the Berlin Wall, William F. Buckley wrote:

The discrepancies the paper disclosed between the lifestyles of the rulers and the ruled in the Workers' and Peasants' State were not so large as in Romania, but they stirred great and righteous anger. Apart from descriptions of the luxurious houses in the Wandlitz compound, there were auxiliary revelations. Harry Tisch, head of the Free German Trade Union Federation, kept a huge estate on the Baltic coast with a full complement of servants. Secretary of State for Foreign Trade Alexander Schalck-Golodkowski had been using public money to make private deals in the international arms market. Honecker and his colleagues collectively had billions of dollars in Swiss bank accounts.

The Volkskammer would no longer serve as a rubber stamp for the party. On December 1 it rescinded the SED's monopoly on power. On December 2 a special committee confirmed Neues Deutschland's allegations.On December 3 the Volkskammer expelled 12 top party officials, prompting the entire Politburo to resign - including Krenz, who formally left his posts on the 6th, and Modrow, who continued as Prime Minister.

Some officials, including Honecker, fled the country. Many eventually were tried and imprisoned for various crimes. Honecker himself had fled to the Soviet Union. He sought asylum with the Chilean embassy there when Yeltsin came to power, but was shortly extradited. He was to be tried in 1993, but was released due to ill health. He lived in Chile until his death a year later.

Hans Modrow began reunification negotiations with Helmut Kohl. NATO was a chief sticking point; Kohl wanted reunified Germany's continued membership, while Modrow objected (as did Gorbachev). This stalemate became moot on March 18, as the GDR's first and last free elections replaced Modrow with Lothar de Maziére.

In the Volkskammer elections, 48 percent of the vote was won by the Alliance for Germany. Allianz was a bloc dominated by an old National Front party, the Christian Democratic Union, and joined by two small parties: Democratic Awakening, an October 1989 opposition group, and the incipient German Social Union. A much larger October 1989 opposition party, the Social Democratic Party, won almost 22 percent; after reunification it merged with the identically-named West German SPD. The third-place Party of Democratic Socialism was the old SED under new management. New Forum, prominent in the revolution, faded fast in politics; its Alliance 90 bloc formed with two new opposition parties garnered just under three percent of the vote.

On May 18 the Germanies signed an economic/monetary treaty. As a result, the West German mark officially displaced its East German counterpart on June 1.

Kohl and Maziére negotiated a reunification treaty that the Volkskammer and the West German legislature on September 20. At midnight Central European Time on October 3, 1990, the provisions of the treaty became official; the two Germanies were now one. This day is celebrated as German Unity Day.

Regarding the absence of Mikhail Gorbachev's name from the list of awardees: the Henderson Prize chooses to postpone his formal honors to a future date. This occasion will be shared by individuals outside the Warsaw Pact (and outside West Germany) who contributed to the liberation of Eastern Europe from Communism.


Awarded Thursday, July 03, 2008


Henry I, King of England (1068-1135)

Henry III, King of England (1207-1272)

Hubert de Burgh, 1st Earl of Kent (before 1180–1243)

Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury (1150-1228)

William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke (1146-1219)

Parliament of England, 1297

Parties to the Magna Carta of 1215:

Surety Barons: William d'Albini, Lord of Belvoir Castle; Roger Bigod, Earl of Norfolk and Suffolk; Hugh Bigod, Heir to the Earldoms of Norfolk and Suffolk; Henry de Bohun, Earl of Hereford; Richard de Clare, Earl of Hertford; Gilbert de Clare, heir to the earldom of Hertford; John FitzRobert, Lord of Warkworth Castle; Robert Fitzwalter, Lord of Dunmow Castle; William de Fortibus, Earl of Albemarle; William Hardell, Mayor of the City of London; William de Huntingfield, Sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk; John de Lacie, Lord of Pontefract Castle; William de Lanvallei, Lord of Standway Castle; William Malet, Sheriff of Somerset and Dorset; Geoffrey de Mandeville, Earl of Essex and Gloucester; William Marshall Jr, heir to the earldom of Pembroke; Roger de Montbegon, Lord of Hornby Castle, Lancashire; Richard de Montfichet, Baron; William de Mowbray, Lord of Axholme Castle; Richard de Percy, Baron; Saire/Saher de Quincy, Earl of Winchester; Robert de Roos, Lord of Hamlake Castle; Geoffrey de Saye, Baron; Robert de Vere, heir to the earldom of Oxford; Eustace de Vesci, Lord of Alnwick Castle
Bishops of the Catholic Church: Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury; Henry, Archbishop of Dublin; Bishops of London, Bath, Winchester, Lincoln, Salisbury, Rochester, Worcester, Ely, Hereford, Chichester, Exeter
Abbots of the Catholic Church: Abbots of St. Edmunds, St. Albans, Bello, St. Augustines in Canterbury, Evesham, Westminster, Peterborough, Reading, Abingdon, Malmesbury Abbey, Winchcomb, Hyde, Certesey, Sherborne, Cerne, Abbotebir, Middleton, Selby, Cirencester, Hartstary
Others: Llywelyn the Great and other princes of Wales; Master Pandulff, subdeacon and member of the Papal Household; Brother Aymeric, Master of the Knights Templar in England; Alexander II, King of Scotland

Upon his coronation in 1100, Henry I issued a Charter of Liberties which sought to rectify certain abuses of power inflicted upon the clergy and nobility by his predecessor, William II. These offenses included the plunder of vacant sees, the sale of church offices, and the heavy taxation levied on the barons. The Charter was promptly forgotten, by Henry's successors if not by Henry himself.

Two centuries later, Archbishop of Canterbury Stephen Langton led the campaign to revive that law. On August 4, 1213, he presided over a conference at St. Albans that produced a revision of the Charter - the first draft of the Magna Carta ("Great Charter"). Later that month on the 25th, at Westminster before a crowd of barons and church leaders, Langton read aloud this Great Charter and called upon the Crown for its instalment into law. King John refused, but on June 10, 1215, a number of barons entered London and coerced the king to place his Great Seal on the document at the Runnymede field.

After the barons' departure, John wasted little time renouncing his official imprimatur on the Magna Carta, thus triggering the First Barons' War. What began as a civil war turned into a war between England and France. At the barons' request, Prince Louis (the future Louis VIII) pledged troops to aid their cause, but Louis eventually took the opportunity to invade England, an act which united the barons and many of John's supporters.

On October 28, 1216, King John died of dysentery. His nine-year-old son Henry was crowned King Henry III ten days later at Gloucester Cathedral. (The French occupied London at the time.) On November 12, a revised draft of the Magna Carta was signed by Henry's regent, William Marshal; a few clauses were omitted, most notably Clause 61 (more on that later). When Henry came of age in 1225, he reissued a much shorter version containing 37 clauses; it was reconfirmed by the Parliament under Edward I on October 12, 1297.

The document would not have enjoyed those years of official tenure without an England to enshrine it - France's bid for conquest had to be stopped. The duty of commander-in-chief fell on Marshal. The 70-year-old regent led a successful land campaign, culminating with the battle at Lincoln in May of 1217. France's fate was sealed with the destruction of its navy at the hands of Hubert de Burgh (Marshal's eventual successor as regent), in battles at Dover and Sandwich. The formal end of the war came with the Treaty of Lambeth, signed on September 11, 1217.

[Update: Many successive generations of monarchs and even Parliaments resisted or ignored the Magna Carta. Royals often viewed the document as something that was forced illegally upon the Crown. The Magna Carta's lasting effects on British law took centuries to come about.]

The Magna Carta established several lasting legacies in the cause for freedom. First and foremost is the basis for rule of law. As Winston Churchill said of the Great Charter in 1956:

Throughout the document it is implied that here is a law which is above the king and which he must not break.

(Source: Constitutional History of the UK, Ann Lyon, p. 39)

Clause 14, which called for occasional assemblies of "archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, and greater barons" to serve as counsel to the King, and Clause 61, which provided for a body of barons elected by their own numbers to (among other things) serve to enforce the laws of the Magna Carta, together influenced the formation of separation of executive and legislative powers. England's early parliaments were temporary affairs, but Parliament eventually took hold as a permanent institution (the English Civil War and interregnum notwithstanding) and struggled for its position as a check on the Crown.

Unlike the Charter of Liberties, the Magna Carta enumerated rights held by all citizens and not just those of noble and ecclesiastical rank. Among these stipulated freedoms (per the 1215 copy) are rights to habeas corpus (Clauses 36, 38, 39, 40), trial by jury and due process of law (Clause 39), and freedom from taxation without representation (Clauses 12 and 14). Over time, British subjects - especially the American colonists - invoked the Magna Carta to petition their government for restoration of various rights. The Great Charter is even cited in United States case law - see Klopfer v. North Carolina (1967) for an example.

The American constitution was the first document devised to structure a national government at its inception, specifying the powers and limits thereof for its major institutions, and distributing power sufficiently that the document could remain enforceable. The Magna Carta was not nearly as thorough defining the limits of English government, but its echoes can be found in America's founding legal document.


Awarded Tuesday, May 01, 2007


Miklós Németh (1948-)

Németh played a role in the overthrow of Communism in two separate nations. He was a major reform leader in the Hungarian Communist Party. During his term as Prime Minister, he allowed East Germans to pass through Hungary to flee to the West.



László Antal (?)

József Antall (1932-1993)

János Kádár (1912-1989)

László Lengyel (?)

Rezso Nyers (?)

Imre Pozsgay (1933-)

Márton Tardos (?)

Fiatal Demokraták Szövetsége (Federation of Young Democrats)

Magyar Demokrata Fórum (Hungarian Democratic Forum)

Szabad Demokraták Szövetsége (Alliance of Free Democrats)

"This is the way the world ends / Not with a bang but a whimper" - T. S. Eliot, The Hollow Men

At one time Hungary was one of the most prosperous Eastern Bloc nations, enjoying modest economic reforms under the leadership of János Kádár. In 1956 he began his long tenure as General Secretary of the national Communist party, the Magyar Szocialista Munkáspárt (MSZMP - Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party). He also served twice as Prime Minister (1956-1958, 1961-1965). His economic reforms were encapsulated in the New Economic Mechanism (NEM), approved by the Central Committee in 1966. The trend toward reform began to reverse in 1971, and accelerated in the wake of worldwide recession spurred by the 1973 oil crisis. In 1974 the MSZMP dismissed Rezso Nyers, chief architect of the NEM.

János Kádár was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize for 1975-1976. His biography at the site Heroes of the Soviet Union and Russia (translated into English via Google) sums up his economic legacy up to this point:

Since the early 1960s, J. Kadar headed liberalization in domestic policy and greater openness in relations with the West, but economic reform in 1968 aimed at creating a more efficient model of socialism, was closed in the first half of the 1970s, having achieved its main objectives.

The truth is that the economy tanked as a result of closing those reforms. By 1978 the government realized that increased centralization and isolation from the capitalist world was a failure. The government began to shift toward economic reform once again. Citizen reform movements began to rise, partcularly in the late 1980s. Nyers became persona grata in the MSZMP once again.

In 1987 a plan for economics reform titled Fordulat és reform (Turnabout and Reform) was drafted by László Antal, László Lengyel, and Márton Tardos. The plan was supported by Nyers and by Imre Pozsgay, general secretary of the National Council of the Patriotic People's Front, the arm of the MSZMP that among other things oversaw the nation's less-than-democratic elections. The Party ignored Pozsgay's appeals. The document would inspire future reform movements.

In 1988 three major reform parties were founded. The Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ) formed out of a network of human rights activists with roots dating back to the previous decade. Young university students and intellectuals served as the core of the Federation of Young Democrats (Fidesz). A group of intellectuals led by longtime dissident József Antall founded the Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF). Antall had participated in the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, and had been arrested and released several times after the Soviets crushed the uprising.

Economic pressure and ill health led to Kádár's resignation in 1988. Károly Grósz, who had been appointed Prime Minister only a year ago, succeeded him as General Secretary. Also that year, Pozsgay and Nyers were admitted to the Politburo, and the former appointed Minister of State. These two would be among the leaders of the political revolution that was about to take place.

Grósz wanted only modest reforms, leading the "hardline" faction that fought to preserve Communism. But the radical reformers won sweeping reforms in 1989. One key reform occurred in February, when the Central Committee approved independent political parties and democratic elections. Kádár was ousted as party general secretary, and was given no successor.

In April the Soviet Union agreed to remove its military forces by June 1991. There would be no reprise of 1956.

On May 30 the MSZMP issued an official statement declaring the illegality of the execution of Imre Nagy, Hungary's prime minister during the 1956 revolution. Nagy ran afoul of the Soviets for promising the revolutionaries "too many" reforms, and for threatening to pull out of the Warsaw Pact and declaring neutrality. Originally been buried in an unmarked grave, his body was exhumed (along with those of several others who had been similarly punished), and Nagy was given a state funeral on June 16. This signaled that Hungary had made a turning point that would not be reversed.

In October the MSZMP met for the last time, to reinvent itself as just another independent political party, the Magyar Szocialista Párt (Hungarian Socialist Party). Grósz was succeeded by radical reformer Miklós Németh in November.

The first democratic parliamentary elections were held in May 1990. Of parliamentary seats, MDF captured 43% ans SZDSZ won 24%. The MDF victory placed József Antall as the nation's first freely-elected prime minister.

Kádár died in July of 1989. He will not be fondly remembered for the usual harassment associated with Communist regimes, or for his participation in the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. But he played a critical role in the liberation of Hungary that he spent his final years trying to prevent. Except for a setback in the mid-1970s, under the three decades of Kádár's rule the Party always embraced a level of reform, however modest, not seen in other Communist states. The overthrow of Communism thus came more quickly and less tumultuously in Hungary than elsewhere in Eastern Europe; indeed Hungary was the first Warsaw Pact nation to democratize.

The 2007 Index of Economic Freedom rates nations according to ten factors (explained here) as a percentage score (100% being most free). The report on Hungary shows that the nation is currently the world's 44th freest economy, and the 8th freest economy among former Communist nations. Its per-capita GDP of $16,814 (PPP) is the 35th highest in the world (source: Human Development Report 2006).

Freedom House monitors the former Communist states' progress toward economic and political liberty and publishes its findings annually in its Nations in Transit report. On a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being most free), the report grades these nations with respect to these categories: electoral process, civil society, independent media, judicial framework and independence, corruption, and national and local democratic governance. The current (2006) reports show date from 1999 to 2006. The 2006 report on Hungary states: "Hungary's transition from Communist dictatorship to consolidated liberal democracy is one of the most successful among the former Communist-bloc countries." On the rankings chart for overall democracy score, Hungary currently holds fourth place among the 27 rated nations.


Awarded Sunday, August 28, 2005


J. Alleyne (?), Counsel for James Somerset

Sarah Banks (?)

Henry Brougham, 1st Baron Brougham and Vaux (1778-1868)

Thomas Fowell Buxton (1786-1845)

Thomas Clarkson (1760-1846)

Quobna Ottobah Cugoano (?)

Serjeant William Davy (?), Counsel for James Somerset

John Dunning, 1st Baron Ashburton (1731-1783), Counsel for Thomas Lewis

Olaudah Equiano (c.1745-1797)

Alexander Falconbridge (?)

Serjeant John Glynn (?), Counsel for James Somerset

William Wyndham Grenville, 1st Baron Grenville (1759-1834)

Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey (1764Â?1845)

Francis Hargrave (c.1741-1821), Counsel for James Somerset

Elizabeth Heyrick (1769-1831)

Anne Knight (1786-1862)

Thomas Lewis (?)

Mary Lloyd (1795-1865)

Sir James Mansfield (1733-1821), Counsel for James Somerset

William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield (1705-1793)

John Newton (1725-1807)

Toussaint L'Ouverture (1743-1803)

Zachary Macaulay (1768-1838)

Elizabeth Pease (1807-1897)

Sir Robert Peel (1788-1850)

James Phillips (?)

James Ramsay (1733-1789)

Granville Sharp (1735-1813)

William Sharp (1729-1810)

James Somerset (?)

Jonathan Strong (c.1745-1770)

Sophia Sturge (?)

Lucy Townsend (?)

Josiah Wedgwood (1730-1795)

William Wilberforce (1759-1833)

Anti-Slavery Society

Benefactors for James Somerset (Elizabeth Cade, John Marlow, Thomas Walkin)

Christian Missions in the Caribbean Colonies of England/Great Britain, Hanoverian Era

Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) of England/Great Britain, Hanoverian Era

Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade

Aside from his duties as physician to George III, William Sharp operated a London clinic that served the poor. One morning in 1765 as his brother Granville was visiting, a man named Jonathan Strong came to his doorstep. He had received life-threatening injuries from a pistol-whipping at the hands of his now-former master, an attorney named David Lisle. Lisle had dismissed the slave after the beating, finding him no longer useful. The Sharps got Strong to St. Bart's Hospital for treatment, and after his recovery Granville got him a job as an errand-boy for an apothecary.

Lisle spotted Strong on the street one day, and decided to reclaim and subsequently sell his property. Jamaican planter James Kerr agreed to purchase Strong for £30. Two men were hired to kidnap Strong and place him in a sheriff's prison, where he would sit until Kerr was ready to depart for Jamaica with his new purchase in tow. Strong managed to send word to the Sharps. Granville successfully appealed for Strong's release, convincing the Lord Mayor of London that Strong had been imprisoned without having committed a crime. For his troubles, Granville earned an invitation to a duel by Lisle, which he refused, and an unsuccessful lawsuit filed by Kerr. Strong died in 1770 from complications due to his injuries, at the age of 25.

On July 2 that year, two watermen kidnapped Thomas Lewis in Chelsea and placed him on board the Captain Seward, at the orders of its captain Robert Stapylton. Servants of Sarah Banks, mother of biologist Sir Joseph Banks, witnessed this and informed her. Mrs. Banks promptly informed Granville, who appealed for a writ of habeas corpus and managed to have it delivered to the ship while it was at sea. Granville filed criminal assault charges against Stapylton and his hirelings.

Lewis v. Stapylton was tried the following year. Presiding over the case was William Murray, then Baron Mansfield. (He was elevated to Earl in 1776.) Lord Mansfield pioneered British mercantile law, and gained notoriety as the judge who convicted John Wilkes of the capital crimes of obscene and seditious libel against the Crown; the sentence was later rescinded upon appeal.

Granville hired John Dunning to prosecute the case. (The British court system of that day allowed for criminal trials conducted by private parties, in a fashion similar to civil trials of today.) Since his youth, Lewis had stayed - voluntarily - on several ships, eventually coming to one captained by a Robert Smith and then to Stapylton's. Shortly after that Stapylton was accosted by a Spanish privateer, and Lewis was taken aboard. He was eventually left in Havana. There and in several other locales Lewis had worked for wages. Stapylton had kidnapped Lewis once before in Pensacola; Dunning maintained that this was illegal.

Granville and Dunning had hoped that the case would lead to a ruling on the legality of slavery, as well as conviction of the defendants. But Lord Mansfield would limit the case to the criminal charges alone. The verdict depending on Stapylton's claim to property, which to Mansfield rested on written proof that Smith sold Lewis to Stapylton. (If Lewis were property, an existing competing claim by the Spanish captain would complicate the case.) The jury ruled that Lewis was not property, and the defendants were therefore guilty.

In 1771, Boston customs official Charles Steuart made a business trip to England and brought with him his slave James Somerset. The latter escaped in October, and was recaptured in November and imprisoned on Captain John Knowles' Jamaica-bound ship. Three Londoners otherwise forgotten to history - Elizabeth Cade, John Marlow, and Thomas Walkin - requested a writ of habeas corpus that was drafted by an unknown author and signed by Lord Mansfield. It was delivered to Knowles, demanding that Somerset be present in court during an inquiry into the legality of his seizure and imprisonment. Serjeant William Davy (note: "serjeant" is a peerage, not a military rank), working on behalf of Somerset's benefactors, requested that the full hearing be postponed until 1772 to allow proper time for case preparation.

Approached by Somerset on January 13, Granville assembled a five-man legal team: Serjeants Davy and John Glynn, and barristers J. Alleyne, Francis Hargrave, and James Mansfield (not yet knighted). Steuart called upon two of England's most renowned attorneys to join his legal team - one of whom had once worked for the other side.

John Dunning plays a unique role in this tale: his work on the earlier case sabotaged this one. He would not address the issue of slavery itself. Steven M. Wise quotes the attorney in Though The Heavens May Fall: "For myself, I would not be understood to intimate a wish in favor of slavery, by any means; nor on the other side to be supposed the maintainer of an opinion contrary to my own judgment. I am bound by duty to maintain those arguments which are most useful to Captain Knowles, as far as is consistent with truth..." Wise proceeds to explain the significance of this (emphasis added):

"An albatross hung around the neck of John Dunning as a result of his fiery summation in Stapylton's case. Thomas Lewis could not be Stapylton's property, he had thundered just the year before, in the same place and to the same man:"[N]o such property can exist...in any place and in any court in this kingdom...our laws admit of no such property!"

(As we shall see, the subtitle of Wise's book - The Landmark Trial That Led To The End Of Human Slavery - exaggerates the impact of the Somerset decision. It also fails to add an important qualifying phrase: in Britain. Slavery still thrives in certain parts of the world, with or without the blessings of the state.)

Dunning could not get away with contradicting his oratory from the prior case, and therefore could not directly counter the plaintiffs' arguments against the legitimacy of slavery. He and James Wallace cited supposed threats to commerce and social order posed by a mass emancipation of slaves. Dunning also attempted to draw a parallel between slavery and other forms of servanthood, such as (quoting Wise), "the relationship Dunning had with his footman, or that of a master and his apprentice, or as a soldier who had enlisted in the army whom Parliament was requiring to continue serving in a public emergency even after his enlistment is up."

The Mansfield Judgment was misinterpreted as outlawing of slavery, by manycontemporariess and even by some modern historians. Writing for the Journal of Libertarian Studies, Carl Watner explains the ruling:

"Technically considered, the judgment settled only two narrow points of English law. A master could not seize his slave and remove him from the country against his will. And a slave could secure a writ of habeas corpus to prevent that removal. Regardless of the claims of historians, the case did not legally declare slaves free when they landed in England, nor did it abolish slavery there. Even after the decision, blacks were still hunted and kidnapped in the streets of English cities. What Mansfield declared was that there was no positive law enforcing slavery in England and that when the actions of slave masters were contrary to the Habeas Corpus Act, the slaves might rely on the Act itself for legal relief."

In a letter to Philadelphia abolitionist Anthony Benezet, Benjamin Franklin commented on the public reaction to the Mansfield Judgment, noting the "Hypocrisy of this Country which encourages such a detestable Commerce by Laws, for promoting the Guinea [slave] Trade, while it piqu'd [praised] itself on its Virtue Love of Liberty, and the Equity of its Courts in setting free a single Negro."

(Note: "abolition" in Britain referred specifically to the slave trade; in America it referred to both the slave trade and slavery itself.)

These cases had minimal impact from a legal standpoint. Their chief legacy is that they served as building blocks for the incipient abolitionist movement.

An incident involving the slave ship Zong marked a critical turning point. On November 29, 1781, Captain Luke Collingwood ordered that all 133 of the sickest slaves be thrown overboard to alleviate overcrowding and malnutrition. (One managed to climb back aboard.) The ship's owner, James Gregson, filed aninsurancee claim against the murdered slaves. The initial claim was approved, but the insurers appealed.

This came to the attention of Olaudah Equiano (aka Gustavus Vasa - a former master named him after a famed Swedish monarch). He was enslaved at a young age, and eventually purchased his freedom, and worked many years as a a mariner during slavery and many of his years of freedom. Equiano contacted (who else?) Granville, who set forth to inject himself into the appeal being brought before (who else?) Lord Mansfield. The appeal was heard in 1783. Mansfield ruled that throwing the slaves overboard was unnecessary, thus rejecting the insurance claim - but he refused to charge Collingwood with murder.

Perhaps Mansfield did more for the cause against slavery with this ruling than with the previous one. Somerset was (to the public) a happy ending. The Zong mass-murder was an atrocity that could happen again - and the high death rate due to cramped, unsanitary conditions was business as usual. (Sixty slaves and five sailors had already died of illness before Collingwood's fatal order.) Granville's pen and the sermons of a few clergymen would ensure that this story would not fade away.

In 1785, a divinity student named Thomas Clarkson won Cambridge University's prestigious award for Latin essays, with An essay on the slavery and commerce of the human species, particularly the African. It was published the following year. Clarkson immediately jumped in the abolition movement. He began researching the conditions of the slave trade, interviewing sailors and especially doctors who had worked the Middle Passage, the leg of the slave trade from Africa to the Americas.

Two of Clarkson's associates brought expert knowledge on slave conditions. Physician Alexander Falconbridge kept meticulous notes during his voyages on slave ships. In 1788 published An Account of the Slave Trade on the Coast of Africa. Anglican minister James Ramsay saw life on the Caribbean plantations; in 1784 he wrote Essay on the Treatment and Conversion of African Slaves in the British Sugar Colonies.

Two books written by former slaves won much acclaim. In 1787, an African in London named Quobna Ottobah Cugoano wrote Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evil and Wicked Traffic of the Commerce of the Human Species. The book went through several printings and was translated in French. It devotes only six pages to actual recollections of his days of slavery, stressing mostly his philosophical musings over both slavery and colonialism (avoiding mention of the newly-emancipated American colonies). Equiano made a fortune off his 1789 autobiography, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa the African. He tells great detail of his life during and after slavery.

On May 22, 1787, twelve men met at James Phillips' bookstore and printing shop at 2 George Yard and formed the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade. Granville Sharp and Thomas Clarkson were among them. Nine, including Phillips, were Quakers - then the prominent antislavery voices on both sidesofo the Atlantic. This was the first of the formal antislavery organizations in England. It coordinated efforts to gather evidence of slave trade conditions (Clarkson's pet project) and to educate the community.

Two of its greatest assets werepictoriall in nature. Josiah Wedgwood, the famed producer of china and other fine pottery, produced for the Society a medallion featuring a cameo of an kneeling and chained African slave and the inscription, "Am I not a man and a brother?" - two images of this precursor to the modern campaign button can be found here. Clarkson acquired from Plymouth abolitionists a diagram of the slave ship Brookes (see image here), its stowage decks loaded with 482 slaves. (The Brookes had carried between 609 and 740 on occasions, according to Hochschild.)

Clarkson put other visual aids to work. In his travels he collected goods produced by the slave trade. He alsoacquiredd various implements used to torture and otherwise control slaves, including chains, shackles, thumbscrews, and the speculum oris, a device used to force-feed slaves who refused to eat.

The antislavery sentiment was spreading across England with help outside the Society. Periodicals and pamphlets addressed the issue. (Granville himself was quite the prolific pamphleteer.) One tract, Thoughts of the African Slave Trade, was authored by John Newton, a slave ship captain who had abandoned his profession for the clergy years ago, and now was preachingfieryy sermons for the antislavery cause. He is known best for writing the hymn "Amazing Grace."

The abolitionists found a supporter in the House of Commons: William Wilberforce, and MP from Hull. He made is first speech on the subject May 12, 1789. The first legislative proposals were debated in Parliament in 1793, but that effort collapsed in the wake ofCaribbeann slave revolts and war with France. Wilberforce would submit several antislavery bills, but even those that could get past the House of Commons were stopped dead by the House of Lords.

In 1805, another abolitionist MP came up with an ingenious plan. James Stephen, once a government official from St. Kitts and now an MP, had witnessed plantation slavery up close, and was an expert on maritime trade. His 1805 book War in Disguise, or, the Fraud of Neutral Flags chronicled the role of neutral vessels in transatlantic trade. He proposed a Foreign Slave Trade Act that would ban British vessels from trade with France. Little known to the public was that many neutral (American) ships were actually British owned - the act would effectively slash two-thirds of British slave trade. The bill drove a wedge between planters, who have a huge interest in depriving France of trade, and slave ship owners who own some of those "neutral" ships.

The protectionist argument against abolition - that it would enrich the French slave trade and its Caribbean possessions - was gone with the wind as France lost its greatest jewel in the Caribbean. A free black named Toussaint L'Ouverture led the Western hemisphere's first successful slave revolt in St. Dominigue (now Haiti), and thwarted Spanish and British attempts to take the former colony. Britain established diplomatic relations with the new nation. With a smaller French presence in the Caribbean and a sugar-rich trade partner, Britain could eliminate its entire slave trade without stoking the fortunes of France. The Foreign Slave Trade Act could expand to include domestic slave trade as well.

(Haitian independence also laid the foundation for the Louisiana Purchase, cementing Toussaint's place among those individuals in history who had the greatest impact on geopolitics.)

The antiabolitionists gained two opportunities in one man: Lord Grenville, an ardent abolitionist. The new Prime Minister wielded his office to good effect, and as a member of the House of Lords he had considerable pull with that body that had stood in the way of abolitionist bills in years past. On March 25, the Slave Trade Act of 1807 was signed into law.

But slavery itself remained intact. The veteran abolitionists sought a gradual emancipation, as reflected in the original name of the Anti-Slavery Society, formed in 1823: the London Society for Mitigating and Gradually Abolishing the System of Slavery. Wilberforce and Clarkson were among its members, as were two MPs, Thomas Fowell Buxton and Henry Brougham. Another founding member was Zachary Macaulay, a one-time plantation manager and former governor of Sierra Leone who would found and edit the Anti-Slavery Reporter in 1825.

Women's anti-slavery groups were forming at that time, its driving force including Anne Knight, Mary Lloyd, Elizabeth Pease, Lucy Townsend, Sophia Sturge, and Elizabeth Heyrick. The women by and large were not gradualists, as reflected in Heyrick's 1824 book Immediate, not Gradual Abolition. The gradualist language was dropped from the name of the Anti-Slavery Society in 1830.

Missionaries in the Caribbean were a sore spot for the planters. Not necessarily starting out as anti-slavery crusaders, the former sent word back home about the horrid living conditions of the plantations, and among the slaves they spread a message of human equality. The slaves would hear of abolitionist efforts in Britain, and occasionally would misinterpret some bit of news as promise ofimmanentt emancipation. (And, to the dismay of the House of Hanover, some believed that the name of the king was Wilberforce.) At times the impatient slaves would instigate revolts. Missionaries were sometimes scapegoated for the rebellions; in the wake of one uprising in Montego Bay, Jamaica, several were imprisoned and about 20 churches torched. This provoked outrage on the other side of the Atlantic.

At this time Britain was already in turmoil over another issue: electoral reform. The current system established vast overrepresentation for certain portions of Britain, favoring the Tories. The new Prime Minister, Whig statesman Earl Grey, sought unsuccessfully to reform Parliament in 1831. Rioting broke out in several cities, most notably in Bristol. He and Henry Brougham petitioned William IV in May of 1832 to create a number of Whig peerages to enable reform; the king refused.

Grey dissolved the government, and William enlisted the current Tory leader and previous Prime Minister, Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, to build a new government. But the man who defeated Napoleon met his own Waterloo. The key to the collapse of his efforts was Sir Robert Peel, who refused to add his weight to the new cabinet. Peel had strongly opposed reform in the past, but he feared that a government opposed to the vast majority of England would provoke civil war. William put Grey back in charge and agreed to the new peerages. The Reform Act passed the House of Lords June 7, 1832.

Elections catapulted the Whigs into control of Parliament, and the anti-slavery forces were ready to submit a bill to end British slavery once and for all. Buxton played a key role in the House of Commmons, and Brougham led the effort in the House of Lords. The ailing Wilberforce sat on the sidelines, having retired from politics in 1825. He died on July 29. The Slavery Abolition Act was passed August 28, 1933.


Awarded Sunday, May 30, 2004


The Apostles of Jesus Christ: Andrew, Bartholomew, James son of Alphaeus, James son of Zebedee, John son of Zebedee, Jude (aka Thaddeus), Matthew, Simon Peter, Philip, Simon the Zealot, Thomas, Matthias, Paul of Tarsus

The Authors of the Gospels of Jesus Christ: John, Luke, Matthew, John Mark

With Matthias, who had been elected to replace Judas after the latter's death (Acts 1:12-26), Jesus' original disciples sparked a schism within Judaism on a Day of Pentecost some time during the rule of Pontius Pilate as Prefect over Samaria, Judea, and Idumea (26-36 AD). They proclaimed that Jesus was the prophesied Messiah, that He had risen from the dead, and that His death was a substitutionary punishment for the sins of humanity, allowing those recognizing and accepting the sacrifice to enter eternal relationship with God. Originally, Messianic prophecy had been interpreted as a promise of deliverance for Jews only, but Peter led the church to accept its promise to the Gentiles as well (Acts 11:1-18). Paul of Tarsus, then known as Saul, originally fought against this movement. After an encounter with Jesus (Acts 9:1-19) he joined its ranks as the thirteenth Apostle of Christ; he identifies himself as such in eight of his letters (ex: 1 Tim. 1:1).

Given its nature, this prize concerns only one of the vast array of interrelated doctrines under the umbrella of Christianity: the formal philosophy professing that God values all humans and values them equally - or, as worded in the Declaration of Independence, "all Men are created equal." Paul expressed this ethic explicitly in his letter to the Galatians: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3:28). Jesus illustrated this principle in various ways:

Christianity champions due process, which must be present to ensure liberty and which cannot exist without duly empowered officials, whose authority must be heeded according to Paul's entreaties (Rom. 13:1, Eph. 6:5). What is to be done when authority conflicts with liberty? One such example is when officials exercise powers not delegated to them, as the Sanhedrin did when it forbade Peter's evangelism (Acts 5:21-26); Peter simply disobeyed the illegal edict.

Political reform is not addressed in the New Testament, so later generations of Christians would apply deductive reasoning to determine the biblical framework for getting rid of bad laws, bad politicians, and bad governments. If due process is king, then would-be political reformers must follow whatever rules exist for changing laws and ousting officials. But what about entire governments? The authors of the Declaration of Independence determined rightly that if due process cannot exist without human authority, human authority cannot exist without due process, and any governing body (such as King George III) that completely abolishes due process no longer has authority and is therefore subject to impeachment by force.

The list of awardees is probably much shorter than it should be. For simplicity I chose to list the chief leaders of the original church and the men who preserved the words of Christ. Why isn't Jesus named as a recipient? Prizes are earned for overcoming challenges. The second person of the Trinity is not challenged by anything - certainly not by ethical issues - and He is the one who gives prizes to us, not vice versa.


Awarded Wednesday, March 31, 2004


Tadeusz Mazowiecki (1927-)

Lech Walesa (1943-)

The Catholic Church of Poland. Primate of Poland: Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski (in office, 1949-1981), Józef Glemp (in office, 1981-)

Komitet Obrony Robotnikow (Workers' Defense Committee)

Komitet Obywatelski "Solidarność" (Citizens' Committee "Solidarity"), and other dissident groups involved in the Round Table Talks

Niezależny Samorządny Związek Zawodowy "Solidarność"
(Independent Self-Governing Trade Union "Solidarity")

Wiejska Solidarność (Rural Solidarity)

Under the Communist yoke, Poles had long harbored long resentment toward the state over such issues as wages, working conditions, and the ever-persistent food shortages. On several occasions, government announcements of food price hikes would prod this resentment into open protest. One such time was in 1970. As the government suppressed the strikes, Prime Minister Wladyslaw Gomulka lost his seat to Edward Gierek, an a 27-year-old electrician named Lech Walesa began a one-year jail sentence for participating on a strike committee at the Lenin Shipyards in Gdansk. Walesa would organize underground trade unions later that decade and would earn surveillance and detention for his efforts.

Another wave of strikes occurred in 1976. After the inevitable government crackdown, dissident intellectuals in Poland founded the Komitet Obrony Robotnikow (Workers' Defense Committee). KOR brought medical, legal, and other assistance to the families of jailed workers, established a clandestine news network. It united dissidents among the workers, the Catholic and non-Catholic intelligentsia, and the Catholic hierarchy at large. In 1979 KOR drafted a Charter of Workers Rights, which would play a significant role in the beginnings of Solidarity.

(The Catholic Church, stronger in Poland than in any other Communist nation, was encouraged when Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, Archbishop of Krakow, was elected to the papacy. The contributions to the overthrow of Eastern European Communism by Pope John Paul II - and by political leaders outside of Poland - will be honored at a later date, pending thorough research.)

Labor strikes broke out across Poland once again in 1980. The largest strike began on August 14 at the Lenin Shipyards in Gdansk, where 17,000 workers led by Walesa barricaded themselves within the plant. He organized an Interfactory Strike Committee to coordinate the efforts of striking workers in Gdansk with those in nearby Sopot and Gdynia. A list of 21 demands, based largely on the Charter of Workers Rights, was hand-written on wooden boards and attached to the outer gates of the shipyard.

The most controversial demand was the first: official recognitions of independent unions. This was a grave insult to a regime steeped in a worldview nominally dedicated to the liberation of the working class. Strikers sought to prevent direct intervention by the PZPR (Polska Zjednoczona Partia Robotnicza - Polish Communist Party) in union activity. The government offered a compromise: unions would accept the "leading role of the Party," but this "leadership" would not involve Party officials' physical presence in the unions.

Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski delivered a sermon calling for the strikers to take the gradual approach to reform and agree to the compromise. He knew the perils of inflexibility personally, having been forced into internal exile from 1948 to 1956 for openly challenging the state. To provide measures against censorship and distortion by the state media, he organized the cardinals to draft and deliver a memorandum stating clearly that the Church supported the "21 demands," and that its support for the compromise does not suggest that what reform is not available today should not be pursued tomorrow - quite the contrary. The strikers consented. On August 31 the agreement was put in writing in the form of the Gdansk Accord.

Soon after that, 36 trade unions had begun to organize across Poland. On September 22, 1980, they filed jointly under one organization: Niezależny Samorządny Związek Zawodowy "Solidarność"
(Independent Self-Governing Trade Union "Solidarity"). KOR disbanded; its members joined the union. Walesa was elected chairman. Tadeusz Mazowiecki, a chief advisor to the Interfactory Strike Committee, edited the union's weekly newsletter, leaving his post with a Catholic monthly that had long given voice to dissident writers.

Solidarity continued to fight against the language acknowledging the "leadership of the Party." On October 24 a judge ruled that the clause must stand. A protest strike was scheduled for November 10, but was averted as Poland's Supreme Court made cosmetic changes in Solidarity's charter, moving the objectionable language to an appendix. Solidarity was officially registered that day. An agricultural union, Wiejska Solidarność, formed the following month.

Earlier in 1980, Gierek had been succeeded by General Wojciech Jaruzelski. On December 13, 1981, under the specter (imaginary or otherwise) of a Soviet crackdown, the new prime minister declared martial law. Thousands of Solidarity's leaders (including Walesa and Mazowiecki) were arrested, and its offices were shut down; Walesa would be released the following year. Solidarity was officially outlawed October 8, 1982. Troops were stationed at factories. Martial law was administered by Wojskowa Rada Ocalenia Narodowego (Military Council for National Salvation). (WRON was derisively nicknamed wrona - Polish for "crow" - contrasted to the black two-headed eagle, Poland's national symbol.) Martial law remained in place until July 1983; many restrictions remained in place afterward.

One day after martial law was enacted, the new Primate of Poland, Józef Glemp (appointed cardinal two years later), cautioned against violence and protest in general; Bob Bultman's Revolution by Candlelight quotes him as stating, "The authority under martial law is not an authority of dialogue." The people would not follow the latter request. The Church in Poland saw its finest hour, organizing and assisting many of the public protests and many of the newly-emerging samizdat publications. Replaying the mission of KOR, the Church also provided legal and material aid and pastoral care for jailed dissidents and their families.

Jaruzelski could not stem the tsunami of opposition. The people were energized as the "former leader of a former union" was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983. (Like many laureates, his efforts had yet to see results; unlike many, they eventually did materialize.) The secret police's 1984 murder of Father Jerzy Popieluszko, beloved spiritual advisor to Solidarity, enraged the public. Poland was descending into economic crisis. And Mikhail Gorbachev stole the state's trump card - the specter of Soviet crackdowns - as the ideas that once drew the military wrath of the USSR to Prague now became Soviet policy. In his Boston Globe column, Jeff Jacoby remarks on the legacy of Dubcek and Gorbachev:

"Brezhnev understood what Dubcek did not -- that "socialism with a human face" -- a government both democratic and communist -- was a contradiction in terms. If the Dubcek government had insisted on Communist Party supremacy, it would soon have lost its human face. And if its democratizing humaneness had continued, the communists would soon have been swept from office.

"Which is just what happened two decades later, when another communist leader -- Mikhail Gorbachev -- pursued the same chimera...Each new taste of freedom and openness only intensified the hunger for more. This time, with no tanks to abort the experiment, Gorbachev learned what Dubcek never realized: Communism and freedom cannot coexist."

In 1988 strikes erupted in two waves, one in May and June and another in August. Both times protesters called for the government to negotiate with Solidarity, which had been operating clandestinely under several factions. The following year PZPR sat down with Solidarity's Citizens' Committee (led by Walesa) and various groups of lapdogs and dissidents for 59 days of talks. On April 6 the Round Table Agreement was signed; its provisions included judicial reform, reinstatement of the Senate (which had been abolished when the Communists came to power in Poland), decriminalization of independent labor unions, and open elections for the whole Senate and 35% of the lower house, the Sejm (161 out of 460 seats).

The June elections gave Jaruzelski the presidency and Solidarity all seats for which it was eligible, save one in the Senate. Solidarity used its new-found power to prevent Jaruzelski from installing a Communist into the office of Prime Minister; the general eventually yielded to pressure and nominated Mazowiecki to that post. Most cabinet ministries went to Solidarity members. The ministries of national defense and internal affairs were given to PZPR, and seven others went to minority parties.

In 1990, Solidarity became an official party, and PZPR, refusing to function with a mere fraction of the power it once held, disbanded. Solidarity rapidly splintered over various issues, and the rift grew wider as Walesa criticized his old advisor Mazowiecki for not accelerating the rate of reforms and for allowing Communists to continue to serve in government posts. When Jaruzelski retired from the presidency, both Walesa and Mazowiecki ran for the office. The election was forced into a runoff between the Solidarity founder and expatriate Stanislaw Tyminski; on December 10 Walesa won Poland's first free presidential election. After a stormy term of office, he lost reelection to former Communist Aleksander Kwasniewski in 1995, and received less than one percent of the vote in a 2000 bid. Like old soldiers, Walesa and Solidarity faded away, but they gave birth to a Poland free from totalitarianism.

The Index of Economic Freedom rates nations according to ten factors (explained here) on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being most free). The 2004 report on Poland shows that the nation entered the "mostly free" category (2.00-2.99) in 1998 with a score of 2.91, and currently rates at 2.81, a faint improvement over the previous year and almost even with Greece (2.80). And even a nation with many former Communists in political office can outperform Mexico in both Index score (2.90) and in per-capita GDP ($4,320 versus $3,679).

Freedom House monitors the former Communist states' progress toward economic and political liberty and publishes its findings annually in its Nations in Transit report. On a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being most free), the report grades these nations with respect to democratization and rule of law (and a third category, economic liberalization, from 1997 to 2002). Originally, the categories were named political rights and rule of law. Under the original system, Poland's 1989-1990 scores were 4 and 3, respectively; the 1998 report reveals that both improved to 2 in 1990-91, and the former improved further to 1 in 1995-96. Under the newer scoring system (see 2002 and 2003 reports), all scores show only slight decreases of less than a quarter of a point since 1999. Table 4: Nations in Transit 2003 Democratization Rankings (Acrobat Reader required) shows that Poland is the highest ranked in both democratization and rule of law among the former Communist countries.


Awarded Thursday, May 01, 2003


Carlos Glidden (1834-1877)

Christopher Latham Sholes (1819-1890)

Samuel W. Soulé (?)

In 1864, Wisconsin journalist Christopher Sholes and friend Samuel W. Soulé received a patent for a page numbering machine. Carlos Glidden, a mechanic and an inventor himself, proposed that the invention be improved upon to print letters, drawing inspiration from John Pratt’s unsuccessful “pterotype” printing machine that used piano keys for input. The prototype was patented in 1868, and Sholes earned two more patents for improvements before selling the rights to the Remington Arms Company for $12,000 in 1873. Sholes re-engineered the product once again, developing the modern QWERTY keyboard to slow down typing speed to prevent machine jamming. The first Sholes & Glidden Type Writer was mounted onto a sewing machine table and used a treadle for carriage return; the tabletop model replaced the treadle with a large button on the right side of the machine.

During the Cold War, the underground press thrived in many Warsaw Pact nations such as the Soviet Union, Poland, and Czechoslovakia. The sheer size of conventional printing presses (which nevertheless had already been seized by the ruling authorities) made their use for clandestine publication impossible. The portable and easily-concealable typewriter, used in conjunction with carbon paper or mimeograph machines, enabled mass circulation of samizdat (underground periodicals), pamphlets, petitions, etc. These publications enabled dissident groups to organize and to spread information about government abuses to fellow citizens and to Western nations.



Alexander Dubcek (1921-1992)

Václav Havel (1936-)

Augustin Navratil (?)

Cardinal Frantisek Tomasek, Archbishop of Prague (1909-2001)

Charter 77 (Charta 77), signers

Committee for the Defense of the Unjustly Prosecuted (Výbor na obranu nespravedlivě stíhaných)

Civic Forum (Občanské Fórum)

Public Against Violence (Veřejnost Proti Násilí)

On January 1, 1977, 243 Czech dissidents signed a document titled Charter 77. The petition demanded that the Communist government adhere to the human rights provisions of the Helsinki Accords of 1975. By 1989 about two thousand people had signed the Charter, most having done so that year. Among the original signers were playwright Václav Havel, philosopher Jan Patocka, and former Communist foreign minister Jiri Hajek (who had been ousted for his refusal to voice support for the 1968 Soviet invasion). The three served as the original spokesmen for the Charter. Havel was shortly arrested, and spent several months in prison, followed by house arrest through 1979. Patocka died during interrogation. Virtually all other signatories were persecuted by the government.

To bring attention to this state oppression against the Chartists, Havel co-founded the Committee for the Defense of the Unjustly Prosecuted (Výbor na obranu nespravedlivě stíhaných - VONS) in 1978. In his book Revolution by Candlelight, Bud Bultman describes the organization's mission:

"VONS was established to operate as...a parallel system of legal aid. The committee kept tabs on the cases of political dissidents facing trial and imprisonment, documented cases of police brutality and government injustice, and organized financial help for the families of prisoners. As a result, the committee members found themselves the target of the repression they were trying to combat."

The Czech government cracked down on VONS in 1979, arresting ten of its leaders, including Havel, Father Václav Maly, and Catholic layman Václav Benda. Maly was later released, but Havel and Benda faced trial along with two others. All were convicted; Havel, Benda, and samizdat (underground press) publisher Jiri Dienstbier were sent to Hermanice Prison in Moravia for four and a half, four, and three years, respectively.

In the early days of his office as Archbishop of Prague, Cardinal Frantisek Tomasek avoided open criticism of the government, but later followed the lead of Pope John Paul II as the latter actively called for religious freedom in Eastern Europe. In 1983, Chartist and theologian Dr. Josef Zverina anonymously wrote a letter protesting workplace and classroom religious discrimination. When the authorities learned the author's identity, they demanded that Tomasek publicly denounce the letter; he refused. A meeting with Zverina led to cooperation between the Archdiocese and the underground church, that community of dissident priests who had been stripped of office by the state but continued their vocations clandestinely. Václav Maly, himself a state-defrocked priest, and Father Tomas Halisek, once a student of Zverina, played key roles in this alliance.

Catholic layman Augustin Navratil spent many years fighting for religious liberty in Czechoslovakia, earning four stays in a mental institution in a ten-year period for his efforts. One of those sentences came as a result of petition he wrote in 1987, a 31-point statement calling for religious freedom. Cardinal Tomasek himself helped to distribute the petition. Bultman quotes him as saying, "Cowardice and fear are unworthy of a true Christian." The petition flourished more than any other civil rights initiative in Czech history, gaining over 600,000 signatures from both Czechs and Slovaks.

On November 17, 1989, the Charles University Union of Student Youth held, with government approval, a demonstration to mark the 50th anniversary of the death of a student during a protest against the occupying Nazi regime. Radio Prague's History Online Virtual Exhibit on the Velvet Revolution describes the events:

"The protest [began] as a legal rally to commemorate the death of Jan Opletal, but turned instead into a demonstration demanding democratic reforms. Riot police stopped the students (who were making their way from the Czech National Cemetery at Vysehrad to Wenceslas Square) halfway in their march, in Narodni trida. After a stand-off in which the students offered flowers to the riot police and showed no resistance, the police began beating the young demonstrators with night sticks. In all, at least 167 people were injured. One student was reportedly beaten to death, and - although this was later proved false - this rumor served to crystallize support for the students and their demands among the general public. In a severe blow to the communists' morale, a number of workers' unions immediately joined the students' cause."

Two days later, a meeting of dissidents at the Magic Lantern, a theater in Prague, led to the creation of the Civic Forum (Občanské Fórum). Havel and Maly were present, as was Socialist Party chief Jan Skoda, whose party (along with the People's Party) was losing confidence in the Communist regime. The Forum drew up a petition calling for the resignation of the Czech government, the release of political prisoners, and an investigation into charges of police brutality during the November 17 protests. It called for a general strike to be held on November 27.

About 200,000 people thronged Wenceslas Square on the 21st, beginning about two solid weeks of demonstration in Prague, the number of protesters increasing daily. That day Maly read aloud a letter of support from Archbishop Tomasek, drafted the previous evening. On the 24th, Alexander Dubcek took the stage. The architect of the "Prague Spring" of 1968 that brought many civil liberties reforms - and incurred the wrath of the Soviet empire - rekindled his dream of "socialism with a human face." Havel did not believe that liberty and socialism could coexist, and the two debated the issue on the stage of the Magic Lantern that evening - only to be interrupted with the news of the resignations of Party leader Milos Jakes and the entire Politburo.

The next day, as negotiations began between Prime Minister Ladislav Adamec and Civic Forum representatives, A Prague police lieutenant named Ludwig Pinc addressed the crowd. He stated that the November 17 crackdown was ordered by high-ranking government officials, condemning those actions, voicing support for democratization, and calling for reconciliation between citizens and police. Another police officer joined Pinc on stage and called for unity. Václav Maly called for forgiveness, and received a positive response from the crowd. Bultman reports Maly's plea:

"We have to be proud of these members of the security police who came forward to apologize. They could be risking jail for their actions, and we have to protect them. Thank you for your understanding. Whenever there's political change, there's always the danger of the powerless seeking retribution against the powerful. Now, I'm not asking you to forget what those in power have done. But I am asking you to show forgiveness. Forgiveness is more than a word. There's power in forgiveness. There's hope in forgiveness. Now, will you accept their apology?"

On November 29, the Communist government approved a coalition government that would grant token representation by opposition forces - only 5 out of 21 cabinet seats going to non-Communists. Civic Forum and Public Against Violence (VPN - Veřejnost Proti Násilí), an opposition group that had arisen in Slovakia, protested. A new framework was negotiated, giving ten seats to Communists, two each to the Socialist and People's parties, and seven unaffiliated (filled by Civic Forum and VPN members). The new cabinet was sworn in December 10. Alexander Dubcek was elected Speaker of the Federal Assembly on December 28, and Václav Havel was elected President the next day.

The first free elections were held in June 1990. Civic Forum and VPN continued to live on as political parties - but only for a short while. Václav Klaus broke with the former and founded the Civic Democratic Party, and Vladimir Meciar left the latter and formed Movement for Democratic Slovakia. The two leaders disputed over economic policy (Klaus favored rapid transition toward a market economy, while Meciar wanted a gradual approach) and over federal power-sharing and Slovak autonomy. In July 1992 Slovakia declared sovereignty, declaring its laws superior to federal law. Having reached a political impasse, Klaus and Meciar negotiated Czechoslovakia's peaceful separation into two nations. The independent Czech and Slovak republics were born January 1, 1993.

Many, including Havel, opposed the split. Placing the democratic experiment into two baskets did, however, give Czechs and Slovaks greater control over their own destinies than they would have had in a combined federation. This removed the potential for regional political feuds, thus benefiting Czech-Slovak relations, and prevented one region's political backsliding from dragging the other down. Meciar would prove to be an authoritarian leader with exceptional intolerance of press freedoms during his three terms as Prime Minister of Slovakia; one could say that his machinations leading to the "velvet divorce," which limited his political sphere to Slovakia, essentially advanced liberty in the Czech Republic. Due process would persevere in Slovakia, however, denying him a fourth term and undoing much of his damage in a fairly short time.

Freedom House monitors the former Communist states' progress toward economic and political liberty and publishes its findings annually in its Nations in Transit report. On a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being most free), the report grades these nations with respect to democratization, rule of law, and economic liberalization. Originally, two categories were defined - political rights and rule of law - and in the 1989-1990 season Czechoslovakia scored a 6 in both. According to the 1998 reports on the Czech and Slovak republics, the scores rose dramatically during the next year and generally remained high, with the exception of Slovak civil liberties scores during Meciar's tenure. In the 2002 report, the Czech Republic and Slovakia score above average in all three categories among the other former Communist nations, and in Table B (select under Tables and Charts - Acrobat Reader required) are classified as consolidated democracies.


Awarded Tuesday, November 05, 2002


Johannes Gutenberg (c.1400-1468)

Seeking to improve on the printing technology of the time that used engraved wooden plates, in 1440 Gutenberg built the first printing press that used movable metal type. Metal was much more durable than wood, and type much more versatile than plates with entire texts engraved on them.

In his book Free to Choose, Milton Friedman wrote:

"Industrial progress, mechanical improvement, all of the great wonders of the modern era have meant relatively little to the wealthy. The rich in Ancient Greece would have benefited hardly at all from modern plumbing: running servants replaced running water. Television and radio? The Patricians of Rome could enjoy the leading musicians and actors in their home, could have the leading actors as domestic retainers. Ready-to-wear clothing, supermarkets - all these and many other modern developments would have added little to their life. The great achievements of Western Capitalism have redounded primarily to the benefit of the ordinary person. These achievements have made available to the masses conveniences and amenities that were previously the exclusive prerogative of the rich and powerful."

What did Gutenberg's printing technology revolution bring to the ordinary person that was once the sole province of the aristocrat? Relatively inexpensive and efficient printing made books more affordable and brought about the development of other new forms of written publication, including the newspaper. The widespread availability of printed material spurred an increase in the demand for such, represented by rising literacy rates. Gutenberg's legacy was the first true form of mass media. The ordinary person could now pursue an intellectual life comparable to that of the noble, and could communicate personal ideas to an audience of such size matching or even exceeding that reachable by the State.



Samuel Rutherford (1600-1661)

This Scottish minister was no stranger to conflict with the British authorities. His book Exercitationes Apologeticae pro Divina Gratia took the Calvinist side in its ongoing debate with Arminianism; this earned him exile in Aberdeen for a time. In 1644 he wrote Lex, Rex: A Dispute For the Prerogative of King and People. Rutherford argued that the monarch was not the law but was a subject of the law. He also challenged the institution of hereditary monarchy itself. He insisted that God appoints rulers and that His will in such matters should be discerned through popular election:

"[F]or of six willing and gifted to reign, what maketh one a king and not the other five? Certainly by God's disposing the people to choose this man, and not another man. It cannot be said but God giveth the kingly power immediately; and by him kings reign, that is true. This office is immediately from God, but the question now is, What is that which formally applieth the office and royal power to this person rather than to the other five as meet? Nothing can here be dreamed of but God's inclining the hearts of the [citizens] to choose this man and not that man."

With Oliver Cromwell's rule ended and the crown restored in 1660, the British authorities weren’t going to ignore Lex Rex. Rutherford was summoned to appear for trial for treason, but he declined to go. He passed away on March 30.

Lex Rex significantly inspired the burgeoning political philosophy of liberty in Britain, and was particularly influential with leaders of the American Revolution.



John Locke (1632-1704)

This Oxford scholar, occasional physician, political aide, and economist was a prolific writer who explored many topics. His principle political writings were A Letter Concerning Toleration and Two Treatises of Civil Government. The former called for, among other things, interdenominational civility ("The toleration of those that differ from others in matters of religion is so agreeable to the Gospel of Jesus Christ") and the privatization of the church ("[T]he care of souls does not belong to the magistrate"). Two Treatises put forth a theory that stated that the individual has certain inherent rights, and that government is legitimate only by the consent of the people. One logical conclusion of the latter principle is that under certain conditions rebellion is justified:

"Where-ever law ends, tyranny begins, if the law be transgressed to another's harm; and whosoever in authority exceeds the power given him by the law, and makes use of the force he has under his command, to compass that upon the subject, which the law allows not, ceases in that to be a magistrate; and, acting without authority, may be opposed, as any other man, who by force invades the right of another." [emphasis in original]

Locke, like Samuel Rutherford, was a major influence on Britain’s "Political Reformation," most visibly evidenced in the American Revolution.


Site Meter

Liberty represents these four basic rights: to life and physical safety, to property, to choice and expression of personal beliefs, and to choice and pursuit of personal interests. The State exists to protect individual rights, and society exists to provide opportunity for individuals to voluntarily associate with others to engage in commerce, to share ideas, and to pursue common peaceable interests. Any person, whether acting as a private party or as an agent of the State, is guilty of violating these rights when that person commits assault against person and property, theft of property, fraudulent trade, coercion to prevent peaceable speech and pursuit of peaceable interest, or coercion to adopt and express undesired beliefs and to pursue undesired interests. Liberty is advanced with the broadening of support for individual rights within a society, with legislation that brings a body of laws into greater compliance with individual rights, and with the overthrow of tyrannical governments that have violated the rights of the people and that have abolished all means of seeking redress of grievances against the crimes of the State.    -- A Statement of Individual Rights, finalized version July 9, 2003