Daniel Tietjen


In Chapter 2, Section 12 of Discourses Concerning Government by Algernon Sidney, he, the author, wrote about how Rome lost their liberty through lack of virtue. Even though Sidney talks about Rome, he also gives lessons on how to stay virtuous and how to hold on to liberty.

Algernon Sidney wrote about how mankind is always more inclined to virtue and how virtuous men need constant compliments to stay on the this path. However, today just like Rome before they fell, virtue is hardly celebrated and is pushed to the side to make room for vulgar acts. Algernon Sidney writes:

“[W]hen all honors, advantages and preferment are given to vice, and despised virtue finds no other reward than hatred, persecution, and death, there are few who will follow it.”

Those who try their hardest to follow virtue need encouragement. That is why true friends are important because when one has people who have similar morals and goals they will help each other and encourage each other. One’s friends will help one stay with virtue just as one will help their friends stay with virtue. This was one of the lessons Sidney taught that by having someone or a group that will encourage each other will help one stay on the virtuous path.

Holding onto liberty is a task that needs to be constant. Liberty can not be put on the back burner. To hold onto liberty, one has to pay attention to their government and actively participate. Our government allows us to vote in people in state positions that will protect our liberty. Sidney points out that, “[t]hey who by their votes disposed of kingdoms and provinces.” Ballots can change things faster than bullets can. Just like the saying, “the pen is mightier than the sword.” Our votes will help protect our liberty. Another way to protect our liberty is to stay virtuous. Liberty does not go out with a bang, it slowly whimpers away. Liberty and virtue are two inseparable companions: when one is lacking the other will deteriorate. This goes along with what Sidney declared:

“But if this virtue and the glorious effects of it did begin with liberty, it did also expire with the same.”

When one’s acts slowly switch to wanting to be entertained, their liberty will slowly switch to tyranny. Rome lost their liberty because they lost their virtue.

Although these are only two lessons Algernon Sidney taught, they are great lessons to help one hold onto virtue and hold onto liberty. By having someone celebrate virtue along with another, virtue will stay. When one pays attention to their local government they will hold onto their liberty.

~ Daniel Tietjen

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