It has become something of a conventional wisdom over the past decade to assert that there is no necessary tension between the aims of civil liberties and public health. Like all such wisdoms, although often true, there are occasions when bitterly contested battles make it clear that the picture is far more complex than the world as defined by mantras. Too often lost in the debate over claims about the salutary or baleful impact of the civil libertarian perspective on public health is some understanding of how that outlook emerged, took hold, and then achieved some currency. It is a history that can teach us much. And it is there that Tom Stoddard played a central role, for he helped to shape a rights-sensitive conception of public health.