Each of the following quotes are from American revolutionary Thomas Paine, writing in “The American Crisis” and “Rights of Man.”
Political liberty consists in the power of doing whatever does not injure another. The exercise of the natural rights of every man has no other limits than those which are necessary to secure to every other man the free exercise of the same rights; and these limits are determinable only by the law.
I consider the war of America against Britain as the country’s war, the public’s war, or the war of the people on their own behalf, for the security of their natural rights, and the protection of their own property.
Had it not been for America, there had been no such thing as freedom left throughout the whole universe. England has lost hers in a long chain of right reasoning from wrong principles, and it is from this country, now, that she must learn the resolution to redress herself.
War never can be the interest of a trading nation, any more than quarrelling can be profitable to a man in business.
…that which is the best character for an individual is the best character for a nation.
Trade flourishes best when it is free, and it is weak policy to attempt to fetter it.
There is something in the cause and consequence of America that has drawn on her the attention of all mankind. The world has seen her brave. Her love of liberty; her ardour in supporting it; the justice of her claims, and the constancy of her fortitude…
Man is not the enemy of man, but through the medium of a false system of government.
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. If such a case could be proved, it would equally prove, that those who govern are not fit to govern them, for they are a part of the same national mass.
When any necessity or occasion has pointed out the convenience of addressing the public, I have never made it a consideration whether the subject was popular or unpopular, but whether it was right or wrong; for that which is right will become popular, and that which is wrong, though by mistake it may obtain the cry or fashion of the day, will soon lose the power of delusion, and sink into disesteem.
…America need never be ashamed to tell her birth, nor relate the stages by which she rose to empire.
Man has no property in man … for whatever appertains to the nature of man, cannot be annihilated by man.
Natural rights are those which appertain to man in right of his existence. Of this kind are all the intellectual rights of the mind, and also all those rights of acting as an individual for his own comfort and happiness, which are not injurious to the natural rights of others.
I become irritated at the attempt to govern mankind by force and fraud, as if they were all knaves and fools, and can scarcely avoid disgust at those who are thus imposed upon.
The fact therefore must be, that the individuals themselves, each in his own personal and sovereign right, entered into a compact with each other to produce a government: and this is the only mode in which governments have a right to arise, and the only principle on which they have a right to exist.
It can only be by blinding the understanding of man, and making him believe that government is some wonderful mysterious thing, that excessive revenues are obtained. Monarchy is well calculated to ensure this end. It is the popery of government; a thing kept up to amuse the ignorant, and quiet them into paying taxes.
The ragged relic and the antiquated precedent, the monk and the monarch, will molder together.
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