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1736, Jan 291761-18041809, Jun 8
an English-American political activist, philosopher, political theorist and revolutionary. One of the Founding Fathers of the United States, he authored the two most influential pamphlets at the start of the American Revolution, and he inspired the rebels 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".
 Timeline (6)
01/09/1776-Thomas Paine publishes Common Sense
01/10/1776-Thomas Paine publishes Common Sense
12/19/1776-Thomas Paine publishes his first American Crisis essay, in which he wrote, "These are the times that try men's souls"
12/23/1776-Thomas Paine writes "These are the times that try men's souls"
12/28/1793-Thomas Paine is arrested in France for treason
06/08/1809-Thomas Paine, author of Common Sense, dies in New York City
 Quotes (88) • View in Quotations
'Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.
A little matter will move a party, but it must be something great that moves a nation.
A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right.
A nation under a well regulated government, should permit none to remain uninstructed. It is monarchical and aristocratical government only that requires ignorance for its support.
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 can penetrate where an army of soldiers cannot.
Any system of religion that has anything in it that shocks the mind of a child, cannot be true.
Arms discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property... Horrid mischief would ensue were the law-abiding deprived of the use of them.
As parents, we can have no joy, knowing that this government is not sufficiently lasting to ensure any thing which we may bequeath to posterity: And by a plain method of argument, as we are running the next generation into debt, we ought to do the work of it, otherwise we use them meanly and pitifully. In order to discover the line of our duty rightly, we should take our children in our hand, and fix our station a few years farther into life; that eminence will present a prospect, which a few present fears and prejudices conceal from our sight.
Belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man.
But such is the irresistable nature of truth, that all it asks, and all it wants is the liberty of appearing.
Character is much easier kept than recovered.
Every religion is good that teaches man to be good; and I know of none that instructs him to be bad.
Every science has for its basis a system of principles as fixed and unalterable as those by which the universe is regulated and governed. Man cannot make principles; he can only discover them.
Freedom had been hunted round the globe; reason was considered as rebellion; and the slavery of fear had made men afraid to think. But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing.
Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.
He that rebels against reason is a real rebel, but he that in defence of reason rebels against tyranny has a better title to Defender of the Faith, than George the Third.
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.
Human nature is not of itself vicious.
I believe in the equality of man; and I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavoring to make our fellow-creatures happy.
I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. 'Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.
If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace.
If we do not hang together, we shall surely hang separately.
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 pretenses for revenues and taxation. It watches prosperity as its prey and permits none to escape without tribute.
Is it not a species of blasphemy to call the New Testament revealed religion, when we see in it such contradictions and absurdities.
It is an affront to treat falsehood with complaisance.
It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry.
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 he does not believe.
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.
It is not a God, just and good, but a devil, under the name of God, that the Bible describes.
It is the direction and not the magnitude which is to be taken into consideration.
It is the madness of folly, to expect mercy from those who have refused to do justice; and even mercy, where conquest is the object, is only a trick of war; the cunning of the fox is as murderous as the violence of the wolf.
Laws that forbid the carrying of arms disarm only those who are neither inclined, nor determined to commit crimes. Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants. They serve rather to encourage than prevent homicides from an unarmed man, may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.
Lead, follow, or get out of the way.
Moderation in temper is always a virtue; but moderation in principle is always a vice.
My country is the world, and my religion is to do good.
My mind is my own church.
Not all the treasures of the world, so far as I believe, could have induced me to support an offensive war, for I think it murder; but if a thief breaks into my house, burns and destroys my property, and kills or threatens to kill me, or those that are in it, and to bind me in all cases whatsoever to his absolute will, am I to suffer it?
Now is the seedtime of continental union, faith and honor. The least fracture now, will be like a name engraved with the point of a pin on the tender rind of a young oak; the wound would enlarge with the tree, and posterity read in it full grown characters.
Of all the tyrannies that affect mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst.
One good schoolmaster is of more use than a hundred priests.
Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but it is always the strongly marked feature of all religions established by law. Take away the law-establishment, and every religion re-assumes its original benignity.
Reason obeys itself; and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it.
Reputation is what men and women think of us; character is what God and angels know of us.
Rights are not gifts from one man to another, nor from one class of men to another. It is impossible to discover any origin of rights otherwise than in the origin of man; it consequently follows that rights appertain to man in right of his existence, and must therefore be equal to every man.
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; for when we suffer or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.
Suspicion is the companion of mean souls, and the bane of all good society.
That God cannot lie, is no advantage to your argument, because it is no proof that priests can not, or that the Bible does not.
That government is best which governs least.
That which we obtain too easily, we esteem too lightly.
The abilities of man must fall short on one side or the other, like too scanty a blanket when you are abed. If you pull it upon your shoulders, your feet are left bare; if you thrust it down to your feet, your shoulders are uncovered.
The balance of power is the scale of peace. The same balance would be preserved were all the world not destitute of arms, for all would be alike; but since some will not, others dare not lay them aside ... Horrid mischief would ensue were one half the world deprived of the use of them ... the weak will become prey to the strong.
The cause of America is in a great measure the cause of all mankind.
The greatest remedy for anger is delay.
The Grecians and Romans were strongly possessed of the spirit of liberty but not the principle, for at the time they were determined not to be slaves themselves, they employed their power to enslave the rest of mankind.
The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.
The instant formal government is abolished, society begins to act. A general association takes place, and common interest produces common security.
The most formidable weapon against errors of every kind is reason.
The preservation of a free Government requires not merely, that the metes and bounds which separate each department of power be invariably maintained; but more especially that neither of them be suffered to overleap the great Barrier which defends the rights of the people. The Rulers who are guilty of such an encroachment, exceed the commission from which they derive their authority, and are Tyrants. The People who submit to it are governed by laws made neither by themselves nor by an authority derived from them, and are slaves.
The real man smiles in trouble, gathers strength from distress, and grows brave by reflection.
The reformation was preceded by the discovery of America, as if the Almighty graciously meant to open a sanctuary to the persecuted in future years, when home should afford neither friendship nor safety.
The strength and power of despotism consists wholly in the fear of resistance.
The Sun never shined on a cause of greater worth.
The Vatican is a dagger in the heart of Italy.
The whole religious complexion of the modern world is due to the absence from Jerusalem of a lunatic asylum.
The World is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.
There are matters in the Bible, said to be done by the express commandment of God, that are shocking to humanity and to every idea we have of moral justice.
There are two distinct classes of what are called thoughts: those that we produce in ourselves by reflection and the act of thinking and those that bolt into the mind of their own accord.
These are the times that try men's souls.
This new world hath been the asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and religious liberty from every part of Europe. Hither have they fled, not from the tender embraces of the mother, but from the cruelty of the monster; and it is so far true of England, that the same tyranny which drove the first emigrants from home, pursues their descendants still.
Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigues of supporting it.
Time makes more converts than reason.
Titles are but nicknames, and every nickname is a title.
To argue with a man who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.
To establish any mode to abolish war, however advantageous it might be to Nations, would be to take from such Government the most lucrative of its branches.
To say that any people are not fit for freedom, is to make poverty their choice, and to say they had rather be loaded with taxes than not.
Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.
Virtues are acquired through endeavor, which rests wholly upon yourself. So, to praise others for their virtues can but encourage one's own efforts.
War involves in its progress such a train of unforeseen circumstances that no human wisdom can calculate the end; it has but one thing certain, and that is to increase taxes.
We can only reason from what is; we can reason on actualities, but not on possibilities.
We fight not to enslave, but to set a country free, and to make room upon the earth for honest men to live in.
We have it in our power to begin the world over again.
What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.
When men yield up the privilege of thinking, the last shadow of liberty quits the horizon.
When we are planning for posterity, we ought to remember that virtue is not hereditary.
 Contemporaries
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Thomas Paine [2]1736, Jan 291761
 
18041809, Jun 8

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William Dimond1750 ca1800
 
18301837 ca
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18311831, Nov 14
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Sir Walter Scott1771, Aug 151796
 
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Johann Wolfgang von Goethe1749, Aug 281770
 
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Samuel Taylor Coleridge1772, Oct 211792
 
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 an English sea captain. In 1803, Boys, when in charge of a prize, was made prisoner by the French...
Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen1778, Sep 91796
 
18521852, Jan 13
 a Baltic-German officer in the Imperial Russian Navy, cartographer and explorer, ultimately rose ...
Rebecca Hammond Lard1772, Mar 71786
 
18591855, Sep 28
 called by some critics "the first poet in Indiana". Her poetry reflects on the lives of the early...
Antoine-Henri Jomini1779, Mar 61798
 
18691869, Mar 24
 a Swiss officer who served as a general in the French and later in the Russian service, and one o...
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