It is hard to argue against the view that liberalism and empire have historically shared the same terrain of political ideas. If Raymond Williams is correct, then there is indeed an older set of implications attached to the words “liberal” and “liberalism” dating back to uses of the word “liberty,” commonly known in Shakespearean England, especially as expressed in “liberties of the subject,” that is, to a far more limited construction of the word “liberty” than its modern usage would allow (Williams 1976, 180). Liberty in this instance was the recognition of certain rights granted to subjects of a sovereign authority. In this brief essay on how historians and political theorists in recent years have debated the tortuous relationship between the ideas of empire and liberty in British India, I would like to pause on this constricted and negative definition of liberty rather than its widest possible connotation in terms of human freedom and reflect on how the British Empire in India provided a critical arena for the exercise of sovereign power in the name of both freedom and responsibility. It might be worth stressing that the term “liberal” itself, with its various connotations ranging from licentious to the humane, predates the narrower body of ideas typically attributed to political liberalism, and moreover, that liberalism by far precedes imperialism as a coherent doctrine.