“Since well before 1787, liberty has been understood as freedom from government action, not entitlement to government benefits.”
Long John enjoyed freedom from government action.
The colonisers' meaning of "liberty" is kind of interesting. It meant the liberty to own land, which was virtually impossible in Britain, where the Crown owned all land except what it sold or granted to the well-connected, and the liberty to start and conduct a trade or business without having to bribe the members of the local guild for membership, which was sometimes impossible since the main purpose of any guild was to restrain trade.
But the grant/sale of land, as also the licence to form and maintain a guild, was indeed a government benefit, so Thomas is wrong.
I suspect he's usually silent because he's aware of how impoverished a thinker he is.