Maximizing the individual's freedom, but not absolutely, to think, to believe, to express and discuss views, to organize or to associate in groups, to find employment, to buy and sell commodities including one's own labour, to choose the government executive and the form of government and to change both periodically or as needed. The more realistic of approaches recognize the drives of greed and ambition in people. This has the political features of the protection of the rights of minorities and the separation of the powers of government. As people are essentially good and therefore perfectable, education is central to this approach.
While liberal ideas are seen through the history of human thought, the term comes from the Spanish "Liberales" of the early 19th Century. The English picked up the term and developed it into a party and doctrine. The Golden Age of Liberalism was from 1750 to 1914 in the nations of the West.
Liberalism's faith in reason gave way to admiration for middle class "common sense" and popular sovereignty turned into "personal freedom".