Quote: your liberty ends just where my nose begins (1894)

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Sun Oct 16 01:54:29 UTC 2011

Update: In 1882 the Prohibition advocate John B. Finch employed a
version of the saying about liberty and nose punching (given further
below). That's the earliest instance I could find. The Quote
Investigator website now has a post on this topic. Thanks again to

Your Liberty To Swing Your Fist Ends Just Where My Nose Begins

[PVJF] 1887, The People Versus The Liquor Traffic: Speeches of John B.
Finch, Edited by Charles Arnold McCully, Speech VI: The Defence
Reviewed, [An Address delivered at the Opera-House, Iowa City, Sunday
evening, May 7, 1882], Start Page 109, Quote Pages 127-128,
[Twenty-Fourth (Revised) Edition], Funk & Wagnalls, New York. (Google
Books full view)

<Begin excerpt>
Have not I a right to swing my arm?
Yes, but your right to swing your arm leaves off where my right not to
have my nose struck begins.”
<End excerpt>


On Mon, Sep 26, 2011 at 11:07 AM, Garson O'Toole
<adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Garson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: Quote: your liberty ends just where my nose begins (1894)
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>  Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>> 1887 _Atlanta Constitution_ (Nov. 9) 5 [NewspaperArchive]: The only leading
>> argument urged by the anti-prohibitionists in this campaign for keeping ope=
>> n
>> the bar-rooms, is personal liberty. A great man has said, "your personal
>> liberty to swing your arm ends where my nose begins, [and a] man's personal
>> liberty to drink whisky and support barrooms [sic] ends where the rights of
>> the family and community begin.
> Great! Thanks, Jon. Here is another cite in 1887, one month after your cite.
> Paper: Wheeling Register
> Date: December 10, 1887
> Location: West Virginia
> The Temperance Meeting. At the Fourth Street M. E. Church, Last Evening
> (GenealogyBank)
> "I have no right to throw my arms out in a crowd, for I might hit
> somebody on the nose. My right stops where his nose begins. I have no
> right to drink if my drinking injures others."

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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