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Thomas Paine
1737 - 1809

English-American writer and political pamphleteer, author of Common Sense and other important influences on the American Revolution. Other works that contributed to his reputation as a great political propagandist were Rights of Man, and The Age of Reason.

Books by Thomas Paine
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Common Sense, the Rights of Man, & Other Essential Writings of Thomas Paine
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The Rights of Man
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Click here for essays by Thomas Paine
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.

1783 - from The American Crisis
I draw my idea of the form of government from a principle in nature... that the more simple a thing is, the less liable it is to be disordered, and the easier repaired when disordered.

Feb. 1776 - from Common Sense
Reputation is what men and women think of us; character is what God and angels know of us.

These are the times that try men's souls...

Feb. 1776 - from Common Sense
If, from the more wretched parts of the old world, we look at those which are in an advanced stage of improvement we still find the greedy hand of government thrusting itself into every corner and crevice of industry, and grasping the spoil of the multitude. Invention is continually exercised to furnish new pretences for revenue and taxation. It watches prosperity as its prey, and permits none to escape without a tribute.

1792 - from The Rights of Man: Part II
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.

You will do me the justice to remember that I have always supported the right of every man to his opinion, however different that opinion might be to mine. He who denies to another this right makes a slave of himself to present opinion because he precludes himself the right of changing it. The most formidable weapon against errors of every kind is reason.

from The Age of Reason
When we are planning for posterity, we ought to remember that virtue is not hereditary.

Jul. 1775 - from The Liberty Tree
It is not a field of a few acres of ground, but a cause, that we are defending, and whether we defeat the enemy in one battle, or by degrees, the consequences will be the same.

Sep. 12, 1777 - from The American Crisis No. 4
Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.

The strength and power of despotism consists wholly in the fear of resistance.

Moderation in temper is always a virtue; but moderation in principle is always a vice.

1792 - from The Rights of Man: Part II
When the people fear the government, you have tyranny. When the government fears the people, you have freedom.

Character is much easier kept than recovered.

1776 - from The American Crisis
Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins... Society is in every state a blessing, but Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.

Feb. 1776 - from Common Sense
Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher.