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
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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
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
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
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
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
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
Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this
consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the
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
Where knowledge is a duty, ignorance is a crime.
Quotes of the day,
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