English Synonyms and Antonyms, by James Champlin Fernald
In general terms, it may be said that freedom is absolute, liberty relative; freedom is the absence of restraint, liberty is primarily the removal or avoidance of restraint; in its broadest sense, it is the state of being exempt from the domination of others or from restricting circumstances. Freedom and liberty are constantly interchanged; the slave is set at liberty, or gains his freedom; but freedom is the nobler word. Independence is said of states or nations, freedom and liberty of individuals; the independence of the United States did not secure liberty or freedom to its slaves. Liberty keeps quite strictly to the thought of being clear of restraint or compulsion; freedom takes a wider range, applying to other oppressive influences; thus, we speak of freedom from annoyance or intrusion. License is, in its limited sense, a permission or privilege granted by adequate authority, a bounded liberty; in the wider sense, license is an ignoring and defiance of all that should restrain, and a reckless doing of all that individual caprice or passion may choose to do — a base and dangerous counterfeit of freedom. Compare ALLOW; PERMISSION.