Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD REFERENCE (www.oxfordreference.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single entry from a reference work in OR for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 12 April 2024

Thomas Paine 1737–1809
English political theorist 

  1. 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.
    The Age of Reason pt. 1 (1794)
  2. Any system of religion that has any thing in it that shocks the mind of a child cannot be a true system.
    The Age of Reason pt. 1 (1794)
  3. 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 Age of Reason pt. 2 (1795); see Napoleon I
  4. Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one. Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence; the palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise.
    Common Sense (1776) ch. 1
  5. Freedom hath been hunted round the globe. Asia and Africa have long expelled her. Europe regards her like a stranger, and England hath given her warning to depart. O! receive the fugitive, and prepare in time an asylum for mankind.
    to America
    Common Sense (1776) ch. 3
  6. As to religion, I hold it to be the indispensable duty of government to protect all conscientious professors thereof, and I know of no other business which government hath to do therewith.
    Common Sense (1776) ch. 4
  7. 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 men and women.
    The Crisis (December 1776) introduction
  8. The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value.
    The Crisis (December 1776) introduction
  9. If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace.
    The Crisis (December 1776)
  10. Wisdom is not the purchase of a day.
    The Crisis (December 1776)
  11. The religion of humanity.
    The Crisis (November 1778)
  12. 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.
    Dissertation on First Principles of Government (1795); see Greene
  13. As he rose like a rocket, he fell like the stick.
    on Edmund Burke's losing the debate on the French Revolution to Charles James Fox, in the House of Commons
    Letter to the Addressers on the late Proclamation (1792)
  14. [He] is not affected by the reality of distress touching his heart, but by the showy resemblance of it striking his imagination. He pities the plumage, but forgets the dying bird.
    on Edmund Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790
    The Rights of Man (1791)
  15. Lay then the axe to the root, and teach governments humanity. It is their sanguinary punishments which corrupt mankind.
    The Rights of Man (1791)
  16. The idea of hereditary legislators is as inconsistent as that of hereditary judges, or hereditary juries; and as absurd as an hereditary mathematician, or an hereditary wise man; and as ridiculous as an hereditary poet laureate.
    The Rights of Man (1791)
  17. Persecution is not an original feature of any religion; but it is always the strongly marked feature of all law-religions, or religions established by law.
    The Rights of Man (1791)
  18. If, from the more wretched parts of the old world, we look at those which are in an advanced state 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.
    Rights of Man pt. 2 (1792)
  19. When, in countries that are called civilized, we see age going to the workhouse and youth to the gallows, something must be wrong in the system of government.
    The Rights of Man pt. 2 (1792)
  20. My country is the world, and my religion is to do good.
    The Rights of Man pt. 2 (1792)
  21. I do not believe that any two men, on what are called doctrinal points, think alike who think at all. It is only those who have not thought that appear to agree.
    The Rights of Man pt. 2 (1792)
  22. A share in two revolutions is living to some purpose.
    Eric Foner Tom Paine and Revolutionary America (1976)