Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.? John B. Finch? John Stuart Mill? Abraham Lincoln? Zechariah Chafee, Jr.?

Dear Quote Investigator: I am creating a book on the design template of flexibility and also would choose to incorporate a classical quotation around the pragmatic restrictions on liberty. My study has actually identified several versions of this renowned saying:

The ideal to swing my fist ends where the various other man’s nose begins.

You are watching: Your rights end where mine begin

The ideal to swing my arms in any type of direction ends wbelow your nose starts.

My ideal to swing my fist ends where your nose begins.

Strangely, these 3 similar statements were attributed to 3 exceptionally various civilization. The initially quote was attributed to Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. The second saying was credited to John Stuart Mill, and also the 3rd was ascribed to Abraham Lincoln. But I carry out not trust any kind of of these attributions because no citations were offered. Could you investigate this adage and identify its origin?

Quote Investigator: The seminal recommendation job-related “The Yale Publication of Quotations” presents an essential citation for this saying that mirrors as soon as the phrase gotten in the realm of academic legal discourse. The saying was not attributed to any type of one of the 3 luminaries pointed out in the query. In June 1919 the Harvard Law Recheck out published an article by legal philosopher Zechariah Chafee, Jr. titled “Freedom of Speech in War Time” and it consisted of a variation of the expression spoken by an anonymous judge :

Each side takes the place of the guy that was arrested for swinging his arms and also hitting one more in the nose, and asked the judge if he did not have actually a ideal to swing his arms in a complimentary country. “Your best to swing your arms ends just where the other man’s nose begins.”

Interestingly, the genesis of this adage deserve to be traced earlier more than thirty-five additional years. Several variants of the expression were employed by a collection of lecturers who were aligned through the temperance activity which favored restrictions on the sale and also consumption of alcohol in the United States. The earliest instance located by QI showed up in a repertoire of speeches that were yielded by John B. Finch who was the Chairman of the Prohibition National Committee for numerous years in the 1880s and passed away in 1887.

The saying Finch used was rather longer and clumsier than later on versions of the aphorism. But the main concept was the exact same, and Finch got crmodify from some of his colleagues. It is prevalent for expressions to be shortened and polished as they pass from one speaker to an additional over a period of years. Here is the pertinent excerpt from an oration Finch offered in Iowa City in 1882 :

This arm is my arm (and also my wife’s), it is not yours. Up here I have a ideal to strike out through it as I please. I go over there through these gentlemales and also swing my arm and exercise the organic appropriate which you have actually granted; I hit one male on the nose, one more under the ear, and as I go dvery own the stairs on my head, I cry out:

“Is not this a cost-free country?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Have not I a appropriate to swing my arm?”

“Yes, yet your ideal to swing your arm leaves off where my appropriate not to have actually my nose struck begins.”

Here civil federal government comes in to proccasion bloodburned, adjust rights, and settle disputes.

For years the saying was supplied at pro-Prohibition rallies and meetings. Also, at the turn of the century the saying was adopted by some educators that presented it as a ethical dominion that kids need to learn around. Here are additional schosen citations in chronological order.

The next circumstances days to November 1887 and also was located by Professor Jonathan Lighter of the University of Tenneswatch. The Atlanta Constitution newspaper publiburned a story titled “Four Orators from Atlanta Make Stirring Speeches” around a group of speakers who were suggesting in favor of prohibition regulations to cshed barrooms and also likewise requesting audience members to register to vote :

The just leading discussion urged by the anti-prohibitionists in this project for keeping open the bar-rooms, is personal liberty. A excellent man has actually sassist, “your individual liberty to swing your arm ends where my nose begins”. A man’s personal liberty to drink whisky and support barrooms ends wright here the legal rights of the household and the neighborhood begin.

This compact expression was credited to a “good man”, however the guy was not identified by the lecturer. The speaker might have been referring to the temperance advocate John B. Finch (check out above) or some other perboy functioning towards the enactment of Prohibition. Conversely, the remark may have actually been a rhetorical flourish.

In December 1887 a West Virginia newspaper reported on “The Temperance Meeting. At the 4th Street M. E. Church, Last Evening” at which a lecturer named Major Camp ceded the saying. He did not ascribe the words to anyone in certain :

“God made water; he never made liquor. If he had actually filled the Ohio with beer navigating would certainly have quit long ago.”

“I have no appropriate to throw my arms out in a crowd, for I can hit somebody on the nose. My appropriate stops wbelow his nose begins. I have no best to drink if my drinking injures others.”

In 1894 a temperance campaigner called Rev. A. C. Dixon at the “Thirteenth Internationwide Christian Endeavor Convention” told a joke containing the aphorism. The expression was installed right into the joke in a really herbal way, and also this intake arguably reproclaimed the 1882 circumstances and also pre-figured the example legal situation given fifteenager years later on in the Harvard Law Recheck out :

A drunken male was going dvery own the street in Baltieven more flinging his hands appropriate and also left, as soon as one of his arms came throughout the nose of a passer-by. The passer-by instinctively clenched his fist and sent the intruder sprawling to the ground. He got up, rubbing the place wright here he was hit, and also said, “I would certainly prefer to recognize if this is not a land also of liberty.” “It is,” shelp the other fellow; “but I want you to understand also that your liberty ends just where my nose begins.”

In 1895 a biography of the temperance advocate Mary A. Woodbridge was published and also it consisted of the message of numerous of her speeches. One of her talks attributed John B. Finch with using the aphorism though she did not say he produced it :

Neither in legislation nor equity have the right to tright here be personal liberty to any guy which shall be bondage and also ruin to his fellow-guys. John B. Finch, the great constitutional amendment advocate, was wont to work out this point by a solitary illustration. He said, “I stand also alone upon a platform. I am a tall male with lengthy arms which I might usage at my pleacertain. I may also double my fist and also gesticulate at my very own sweet will certainly. But if an additional shall action upon the platform, and also in the exercise of my personal liberty I carry my fist against his confront, I extremely shortly find that my individual liberty ends wright here that man’s nose starts.”

Also in 1895 the adage showed up in a publication from the Universalist Church in a short post signed by “Secretary Baer” :

The male that votes yes because he desires “personal liberty” for himself and others needs to learn that his liberty ends where some other fellow’s nose starts, is a truth to be used to this question of licensing the saloon. You have no more appropriate to vote to establish a nuisance next door to my home than I have to vote to permit one to be situated in your community.

In 1896 in Philadelphia the preacher Robert F. Y. Pierce provided the expression while mentioning liberty :

He shown the concept of personal liberty by the man who assumed he had actually liberty to strike another man in the nose. That various other sent out the offender to jail to teach him that “your liberty ends wbelow my nose starts.”

In 1902 the adage was stated by the Walter B. Hill, Chancellor of the University of Georgia at a meeting of the National Educational Association. It was additionally published by Hill in a periodical aimed at educators of young children dubbed Kindergarten Magazine :

Children learn at an early age the principle of the limitation of individual liberty. It have the right to normally be solved in the mind by the epigrammatic statement, “My best to swing my arm ends where your nose begins.”

By 1911 the expression was well-known sufficient within educational circles that it inspired a joke about a civics teacher :

A teacher having attended an institute where among the workers provided a talk on “Personal Rights,” was fairly pleased at one of the illustrations offered. Standing before the teachers and also swinging his fists about the speaker said: “Now, I have actually a perfect ideal to stand below and also swing my fists, but if I start dvery own the aisle this way,” suiting the activity to the word, “my legal rights leave off simply wbelow your nose starts.”

Endeavoring to use the very same illustration in his civics course later, he started, “Now, I have the right to stand below and also swing my fists, but if I come down among you swinging my nose –” and also that was as much as he obtained.

In 1918 an post in the Journal of the National Education Association used the phrase while discussing guidelines for self-control in a kindergarten :

In discipline it is expression not repression. The children perform as they please as long as they perform not interfere through their next-door neighbors. “The best to extfinish my hand stops where your nose starts.” Cooperative work-related stops quarreling.

In 1919 the write-up “Freedom of Speech in War Time” by Zechariah Chafee, Jr. was printed in the Harvard Law Recheck out as provided at the start of this post . In enhancement, the write-up so impressed a U. S. Senator that he ordered it to be reprinted by the Government Printing Office in Volume 15 of Senate Documents .

In 1939 the prominent lawyer Arthur Garfield Hays contained the saying in a book he publimelted titled “Democracy Works”. Hays was the basic counsel for the Amerideserve to Civil Liberties Union in the 1920s. He did not attribute the phrase to anyone in specific :

In a culture where interests problem I realize there can be no absolutes. My freedom to swing my arm ends wbelow the various other fellow’s nose starts. But the other fellow’s nose doesn’t begin in my brain, or in my spirit either, as the religionists would certainly have it.

The aphorism is occasionally ascribed to the quotation magnet Oliver Wendell Holmes, however QIhas actually not yet found any kind of evidence to assistance this assertion. For instance, in 1970 a newspaper column by the humorist Bill Vaughan undefinitely credited a version of the adage to Holmes “or someone favor him”. Vaughan did not specify Junior or Senior, yet he most likely intended the jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. :

“Don’t talk to me around a free nation,” I told him. “As Oliver Wendell Holmes or someone prefer him as soon as shelp, your freedom to act ends where my nose starts.”

The adage is likewise periodically attached to Abraham Lincoln, however QI has not uncovered any type of support for this connection. Here is an circumstances in 1980 in which Lincoln’s name is invoked in a letter to the editor of the Dallas Morning News :

After over 30 years of erroneous liberal interpretations of our Constitution, the old Abraham Lincoln idea that your right to swing your arms ends where my nose begins, is no much longer valid. For many type of world now think it is their best to carry out whatever they want regardless of anyone else.

In 1989 a politician offered the expression as soon as he argued in favor of a modern day prohibition: A city ordinance banning smoking rather of drinking alcohol. The politician attributed Oliver Wendell Holmes for the renote :

City Councilor Richard Chapmale likes to quote the late Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes as he fights a recall campaign that began when he successfully sponsored an anti-smoking cigarettes ordinance.

“He sassist, ‘Your appropriate to throw a punch stops wright here my nose begins,"” said Chapguy. “I think that’s very apropos for the cigarette smoking problem.”

In 1992 Richard Posner, the significant legal theorist, offered the saying in his book “Sex and Reason”, and also he associated the words to the concepts of John Stuart Mill; however, he did not insurance claim that Mill ever before offered the phrase himself :

Libertarianism–or, as it is occasionally called, timeless liberalism–the philosophy of John Stuart Mill On Liberty, can be summed up in salso words: “Your legal rights finish where his nose starts.” Government interference with adult consensual tasks is unjustified unmuch less it can be shown to be crucial for the defense of the liberty or building of various other persons.

In conclusion, current proof indicates that the saying under investigation began through Prohibitionist orators who expressed it making use of a variety of formulations during their speeches. John B. Finch interacted the earliest recognized instance in 1882. Ascriptions to other well known individuals such as Abraham Lincoln and also Oliver Wendell Holmes (Junior or Senior) perform not have any kind of support at this time.

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(Many many thanks to Professor Charles Landesguy whose email influenced the formulation of this query and also encouraged this expedition.)

Image Notes: Public doprimary clip art of the liberty bell, a nose, and also a fist fight.

2006, The Yale Book of Quotations by Fred R. Shapiro, Section Zechariah Chafee, Jr., Page 141, Yale University Press, New Haven. (Verified on paper)

1919 June, Harvard Law Resee, Freedom of Speech in War Time by Zechariah Chafee, Jr., Start Page 932, Quote Page 957, Harvard Law Recheck out Association, Cambridge, Massachusetts. (Google Books complete view) link

1887, The People Versus The Liquor Traffic: Speeches of John B. Finch, Edited by Charles Arnold McCully, Speech VI: The Defence Reviewed, , Start Page 109, Quote Peras 127-128, , Funk & Wagnalls, New York. (Google Books complete view) link

1887 November 9, The Constitution, The Meeting of the Drys: Four Orators from Atlanta Make Stirring Speeches, Page 5, Pillar 3, Atlanta, Georgia. (NewspaperArchive)

1887 December 10, Wheeling Register, “The Temperance Meeting. At the Fourth Street M. E. Church, Last Evening”, Page 4, Column 4, Wheeling, West Virginia. (GenealogyBank)

1894, Thirteenth Internationwide Christian Endeavor Convention, , Heroes of Faith: Address of Rev. A.C. Dixon, Start Page 91, Quote Page 95, Publiburned by United Society of Christian Endeavor, Boston, Massachusetts. (Google Books full view) link

1895, Life and also labors of Mrs. Mary A. Woodbridge by Rev. Aaron Merritt Hills, Chapter: The Pennsylvania Campaign, Page 239, F. W. Woodbridge, Ravenna, Ohio. (Google Books complete view) link

1895 February 8, Onward: The Journal of the Universalist Young People, Page 4, Shaft 3, The Universalist Publishing House, Boston, Massachusetts. (Google Books complete view) link

1896 July 6, Philadelphia Inquirer, True Christian Patriots: Rev. Robert F. Y. Pierce’s Address at the Baptist Temple, Page 3, Shaft 3, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (GenealogyBank)

1902, National Educational Association: Journal of Proceedings and Addresses of the Forty-First Annual Meeting , The Psychology of Ethics and also Fun by Walter B. Hill, Chancellor, University of Georgia, Start Page 286, Quote Page 295, Publiburned by National Educational Association, Printed at the University of Chicago Press, Chicearlier, Illinois. (Google Books full view) link

1902 May, Kindergarten Magazine, The Psychology of Ethics and also Fun by Walter B. Hill, Chancellor Georgia University, Start Page 521, Quote Page 525, Volume 14, Number 9, Kindergarten Magazine, Co., Chicearlier, Illinois. (Google Books full view) link

1911 December 7, Moderator-Topics, “Quips, Quirks and Conundrums”, Page 287, Volume 32, Number 14, Henry R. Pattengill, Lansing, Michigan. (Google Books complete view) link

1918 February, Journal of the National Education Association, Section: Department of Kindergarten Education, Paper: The Kindergarten as an Organic Part of Eextremely Elementary School by Anna Laura Force, Principal, Denver Colorado, Start Page 410, Quote Page 412, Publimelted by National Education Association of the USA, Chicback, Illinois. (Google Books complete view) link

1919, Senate Documents, 6sixth Congress, 1st Session, , Volume 15, Freedom of Speech in War Times by Zechariah Chafee, Jr., , Quote Page 19, Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. (Google Books complete view) link

1939, Democracy Works by Arthur Garfield Hays, Page 28, Random House, New York. (Questia)

1970 April 08, Omaha World Herald, Youngsters Usurping Worry Spot by Bill Vaughan, Page 42, Obelisk 3, Omaha, Nebraska. (GenealogyBank)

1980 May 26, Dallas Morning News, Section: Editorial, Letter to the Editor, GNB Page 58, Pillar 4, Dallas, Texas. (GenealogyBank)

1989 June 23, Trenton Evening Times, No-smoking legislation cited in vote to recontact councilor, , Page B10, Trenton, New Jersey. (GenealogyBank)

1992, Sex and Reason by Ricdifficult A. Posner, Section: Review, Page 3, <4th printing, 1998>, Harvard College Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts. (Questia)