The term “minimal state” is most often used in philosophical literature to describe the “state-like entity” discussed by Robert Nozick in Anarchy, State, and Utopia, but more broadly it designates other proposals to limit the state to the provision of protection and justice, within the framework of a free-market economy. Minimal statism developed from the classical liberalism of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, which saw society as a means for individuals to flourish, rather than subordinate them to enhance state power. John Locke, Adam Smith, Wilhelm von Humboldt, and Frédéric Bastiat are discussed as examples of classical liberalism. In the nineteenth century, liberals split between those who favored the extension of social rights and those who wished to reduce the power of the state further than most earlier classical liberals had favored. John Stuart Mill and Herbert Spencer are discussed as examples of the two trends. Minimal statism may be seen as an extension of the latter trend. The minimal statism of Ludwig von Mises, Ayn Rand, Robert Nozick, and Eric Mack is discussed. Minimal statists face pressure from libertarian anarchists, who think that protection and defense can be supplied as market services, and from classical liberals, who think the minimal state is too narrow, and it may be doubted whether the position can overcome this war on two fronts.