Thomas Paine (January 29, 1737 – June 8, 1809) was an English-American political activist, author, political theorist and revolutionary. As the author of two highly influential pamphlets at the start of the American Revolution, he inspired the Patriots in 1776 to declare independence from Britain. His ideas reflected Enlightenment era rhetoric of transnational human rights. He has been called "a corsetmaker by trade, a journalist by profession, and a propagandist by inclination".
At the time of his death, most American newspapers reprinted the obituary notice from the New York Citizen, which read in part: "He had lived long, did some good and much harm." Only six mourners came to his funeral, two of whom were black, most likely freedmen. The writer and orator Robert G. Ingersoll wrote:
"Thomas Paine had passed the legendary limit of life. One by one most of his old friends and acquaintances had deserted him. Maligned on every side, execrated, shunned and abhorred- his virtues denounced as vices- his services forgotten- his character blackened, he preserved the poise and balance of his soul. He was a victim of the people, but his convictions remained unshaken. He was still a soldier in the army of freedom, and still tried to enlighten and civilize those who were impatiently waiting for his death. Even those who loved their enemies hated him, their friend– the friend of the whole world– with all their hearts. On the 8th of June, 1809, death came– Death, almost his only friend. At his funeral no pomp, no pageantry, no civic procession, no military display. In a carriage, a woman and her son who had lived on the bounty of the dead– on horseback, a Quaker, the humanity of whose heart dominated the creed of his head– and, following on foot, two negroes filled with gratitude– constituted the funeral cortege of Thomas Paine.
A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right.
A thing moderately good is not so good as it ought to be. Moderation in temper is always a virtue, but moderation in principle is always a vice.
All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian, or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.
An army of principles will penetrate where an army of soldiers cannot.
An avidity to punish is always dangerous to liberty. It leads men to stretch, to misinterpret, and to misapply even the best of laws.
Character is much easier kept than recovered.
He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.
He who dares not offend cannot be honest.
He who is the author of a war lets loose the whole contagion of hell and opens a vein that bleeds a nation to death.
I care not how affluent some may be, provided that none be miserable in consequence of it.
I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection.
If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace.
In the early ages of the world, according to the Scripture chronology there were no kings; the consequence of which was, there were no wars; it is the pride of kings which throws mankind into confusion.
Independence is my happiness, and I view things as they are, without regard to place or person; my country is the world, and my religion is to do good.
It is from the Bible that man has learned cruelty, rapine, and murder; for the belief of a cruel God makes a cruel man.
It is impossible to calculate the moral mischief, if I may so express it, that mental lying has produced in society. When a man has so far corrupted and prostituted the chastity of his mind, as to subscribe his professional belief to things he does not believe, he has prepared himself for the commission of every other crime.
It is necessary to the happiness of man that he be mentally faithful to himself. Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving, it consists in professing to believe what one does not believe.
It is of the utmost danger to society to make it (religion) a party in political disputes.
It is the duty of a patriot to protect his country from its government.
It matters not where you live, or what rank of life you hold, the evil or the blessing will reach you all.
Man cannot make, or invent, or contrive principles; he can only discover them, and he ought to look through the discovery to the Author.
Men did not make the earth. It is the value of the improvements only, and not the earth itself, that is individual property. Every proprietor owes to the community a ground rent for the land which he holds.
My own mind is my own Church.
Of more worth is one honest man to society and in the sight of God, than all the crowned ruffians that ever lived.
Reason obeys itself; and Ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it.
Society in every state is a blessing, but government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one.
That which is now called natural philosophy, embracing the whole circle of science, of which astronomy occupies the chief place, is the study of the works of God, and of the power and wisdom of God in his works, and is the true theology.
The Bible is a book that has been read more and examined less than any book that ever existed.
The cause of America is in a great measure the cause of all mankind.
The most detestable wickedness, the most horrid cruelties, and the greatest miseries, that have afflicted the human race, have had their origin in this thing called revelation, or revealed religion. It has been the most dishonorable belief against the character of the divinity, the most destructive to morality, and the peace and happiness of man, that ever was propagated since man began to exist.
The nearer any disease approaches to a crisis, the nearer it is to a cure. Danger and deliverance make their advances together, and it is only the last push, in which one or the other takes the lead.
The right of voting for representatives is the primary right by which other rights are protected. To take away this right is to reduce a man to slavery, for slavery consists in being subject to the will of another, and he that has not a vote in the election of representatives is in this case.
The sublime and the ridiculous are often so nearly related that it is difficult to class them separately. One step above the sublime makes the ridiculous, and one step above the ridiculous makes the sublime again.
The trade of governing has always been monopolized by the most ignorant and the most rascally individuals of mankind.
The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.
There is something exceedingly ridiculous in the composition of monarchy; it first excludes a man from the means of information, yet empowers him to act in cases where the highest judgment is required.
These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.
Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.
Though the flame of liberty may sometimes cease to shine, the coal can never expire.
To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead, or endeavoring to convert an atheist by scripture.
Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.
War involves in its progress such a train of unforeseen and unsupposed circumstances... that no human wisdom can calculate the end.
What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.
When man has so far corrupted and prostituted the chastity of his mind, as to subscribe his professional belief to things he does not believe, he has prepared himself for the commission of every other crime.
When the people fear the government, you have tyranny. When the government fears the people, you have freedom.
When we are planning for posterity, we ought to remember that virtue is not hereditary.
Where knowledge is a duty, ignorance is a crime.