Thomas Paine, who’s pen spurred the spirit of patriotic revolution for many of his contemporaries. His Common SenseRights of ManThe American Crisis and Age of Reason treatises have been an inspiration to those who have come after.

“We profess and proclaim it as our principle that every nation has at all times an inherent indefeasible right to constitute and establish such government for itself as best accords with its disposition, interest, and happiness.

Thomas Paine, Address and Declaration, August 20, 1791

“If we are asked, what government is? We hold it to be nothing more than a NATIONAL ASSOCIATION, and we hold that to be the best which secures to every man his rights, and promotes the greatest quantity of happiness with the least expense.

We live to improve, or we live in vain; and therefore we admir of no maxims of government or policy on the mere score of antiquity or other men’s authority, the old Whigs or the new.

We will exercise the reason with which we are endued, or we possess it unworthily. As reason is given at all times, it is for the prpose of being used at all times.

Thomas Paine, Address and Declaration, August 20, 1791

“I received some time ago a letter from the wife of one of the Georgia delegates in which she says, “Your friends on this side of the water cannot be reconciled to the idea of your abandoning America.”

I have never abandoned her in thought, word or deed; and I feel it incumbent upon me to give this assurance to the friends I have in that country and with whom I have always intended and am determined, if the possibility exsts, to close the scene of my life. Ot is there that I have made myself a home. It is there that I have given the services of my best days. America never saw me flinch from her cause in the most gloomy and perilous of her situation; and I know there are those in that country who will not flinch from me.”

When we contemplate the fall of Empires and the extinction of the nations of the Ancient World, we see but little to excite our regret than the mouldering ruins of pompous palaces, magnificent museums, lofty pyramids and walls and towers of the most costly workmanship; but when the Empire of America shall fall, the subject for contemplative sorrow will be infinitely greater than crumbling brass and marble can inspire. It will not then be said, here stood a temple of vast antiquity; here rose a babel of invisible height; or there was a palace of sumptuous extravagance; but here, Ah, painful thought! the noblest work of human wisdom, the grandest scene of human glory, the fair cause of Freedom rose and fell.

Thomas Paine , Letter to James Monroe from a Luxembourg prison, Sept 10, 1794

“When we speak of right, we ought always to unite with it the idea of duties: rights become duties by reciprocity. The right which I enjoy becomes my duty to guarantee it to another, and he to me; and those who violate the duty justly incure a forfeiture of the right.

But when the ignorance is gone, and the superstition with it; when the perceive the imposition that has been acted upon them; when they reflect that the cultivator and the manufacturer are the primary means of all the wealth that exists in the world, beyond what nature spontaneously produces; when they begin to feel their consequence by their usefulness, and their right as members of society, it is then no llonger possible to govern them as before. The fraud once detected cannot be re-acted. To attempt it is to provoke derision or invite destruction.


Thomas Paine , Dissertation on the First Principles of Government