History of liberalism
Liberalism is the belief in freedom and equal rights generally associated with such thinkers as John Locke and Montesquieu. Liberalism as a political movement spans the better part of the last four centuries, though the use of the word liberalism to refer to a specific political doctrine did not occur until the 19th century. The Glorious Revolution of 1688 in England laid the foundations for the development of the modern liberal state by constitutionally limiting the power of the monarch, affirming parliamentary supremacy, passing the Bill of Rights and establishing the principle of 'consent of the governed'. The 1776 Declaration of Independence of the United States of America founded the nascent republic on liberal principles without the encumbrance of hereditary aristocracy; the declaration stated that ""all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, among these life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,"" echoing John Locke's phrase ""life, liberty, and property"". A few years later, the French Revolution overthrew the hereditary aristocracy, with the slogan ""liberty, equality, fraternity"", and was the first state in history to grant universal male suffrage. The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, first codified in 1789 in France, is a foundational document of both liberalism and human rights.The intellectual progress of the Enlightenment, which questioned old traditions about societies and governments, eventually coalesced into powerful revolutionary movements that toppled ancient regimes all over the world, especially in Europe, Latin America, and North America. Liberalism fully exploded as a comprehensive movement against the old order during the French Revolution, which influenced later events on the European continent and around the world.The Classical liberalism espoused by Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill and others, broadly emphasized the importance of free markets, civil liberties and laissez-faire style governance with a minimum of interference - this approach dominated the liberal tradition during the 19th century. The widening disparity between rich and poor in the late 19th century, especially in England and Germany, began a trend toward social liberalism that emphasized a greater role for the state in ameliorating devastating social conditions. By the beginning of the 21st century, liberal democracies and their fundamental characteristics—support for constitutions, free and fair elections and pluralistic society—had prevailed in most regions around the world.