28+ quotes from Rights of Man by Thomas Paine

Quotes from Rights of Man

Thomas Paine ·  229 pages

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“Independence is my happiness, and I view things as they are, without regard to place or person; my country is the world, and my religion is to do good.”
― Thomas Paine, quote from Rights of Man


“Whatever is my right as a man is also the right of another; and it becomes my duty to guarantee as well as to possess.”
― Thomas Paine, quote from Rights of Man


“When it can be said by any country in the world, my poor are happy, neither ignorance nor distress is to be found among them, my jails are empty of prisoners, my streets of beggars, the aged are not in want, the taxes are not oppressive, the rational world is my friend because I am the friend of happiness. When these things can be said, then may that country boast its constitution and government. Independence is my happiness, the world is my country and my religion is to do good.”
― Thomas Paine, quote from Rights of Man


“When it shall be said in any country in the world my poor are happy; neither ignorance nor distress is to be found among them; my jails are empty of prisoners, my streets of beggars; the aged are not in want; the taxes are not oppressive; the rational world is my friend, because I am a friend of its happiness: When these things can be said, there may that country boast its Constitution and its Government”
― Thomas Paine, quote from Rights of Man


“...taxes are not raised to carry on wars, but that wars are raised to carry on taxes”
― Thomas Paine, quote from Rights of Man


“That there are men in all countries who get their living by war, and by keeping up the quarrels of nations, is as shocking as it is true; but when those who are concerned in the government of a country, make it their study to sow discord and cultivate predjudices between nations, it becomes the more unpardonable.”
― Thomas Paine, quote from Rights of Man


“But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing.”
― Thomas Paine, quote from Rights of Man


“The World is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.”
― Thomas Paine, quote from Rights of Man


“If men will permit themselves to think, as rational beings ought to think, nothing can appear more ridiculous and absurd, exclusive of all moral reflections, than to be at the expence of building navies, filling them with men, and then hauling them into the ocean, to try which can sink each other fastester. Peace, which costs nothing, is attended with infintely more advantage than any victory with all its expence. But this, though it best answers the purpose of Nations, does not that of Court Governments, whose habited policy is pretence for taxation, places, and offices.”
― Thomas Paine, quote from Rights of Man


“There exists in man a mass of sense lying in a dormant state, and which, unless something excites it to action, will descend with him, in that condition,to the grave.”
― Thomas Paine, quote from Rights of Man


“If there is a country in the world where concord, according to common calculation, would be least expected, it is America. Made up as it is of people from different nations, accustomed to different forms and habits of government, speaking different languages, and more different in their modes of worship, it would appear that the union of such a people was impracticable; but by the simple operation of constructing government on the principles of society and the rights of man, every difficulty retires, and all the parts are brought into cordial unison. There the poor are not oppressed, the rich are not privileged. Industry is not mortified by the splendid extravagance of a court rioting at its expense. Their taxes are few, because their government is just: and as there is nothing to render them wretched, there is nothing to engender riots and tumults.”
― Thomas Paine, quote from Rights of Man


“Reason obeys itselt; and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it.”
― Thomas Paine, quote from Rights of Man


“But any war is harvest to such Governments, however ruinous it may be to a nation. It serves to keep up deceitful expectations, which prevent a people looking into the defects and abuses of Government. It is the "lo here!" and the "lo there!" that amuses and cheats the multitude.”
― Thomas Paine, quote from Rights of Man


“It is not because a part of the government is elective, that makes it less a despotism, if the persons so elected possess afterwards, as a parliament, unlimited powers. Election, in this case, becomes separated from representation, and the candidates are candidates for despotism.”
― Thomas Paine, quote from Rights of Man


“What are the present governments of Europe, but a scene of iniquity and oppression? What is that of England? Do not its own inhabitants say, It is a market where every man has his price, and where corruption is common traffic, at the expense of a deluded people? No wonder, then, that the French Revolution is traduced.”
― Thomas Paine, quote from Rights of Man


“There never did, there never will, and there never can, exist a Parliament, or any description of men, or any generation of men, in any country, possessed of the right or the power of binding and controlling posterity to the “end of time,” or of commanding forever how the world shall be governed, or who shall govern it; and therefore all such clauses, acts or declarations by which the makers of them attempt to do what they have neither the right nor the power to do, nor the power to execute, are in themselves null and void. Every age and generation must be as free to act for itself in all cases as the age and generations which preceded it. The vanity and presumption of governing beyond the grave is the most ridiculous and insolent of all tyrannies. Man has no property in man; neither has any generation a property in the generations which are to follow. The Parliament or the people of 1688, or of any other period, had no more right to dispose of the people of the present day, or to bind or to control them in any shape whatever, than the parliament or the people of the present day have to dispose of, bind or control those who are to live a hundred or a thousand years hence. Every generation is, and must be, competent to all the purposes which its occasions require. It is the living, and not the dead, that are to be accommodated. When man ceases to be, his power and his wants cease with him; and having no longer any participation in the concerns of this world, he has no longer any authority in directing who shall be its governors, or how its government shall be organized, or how administered.”
― Thomas Paine, quote from Rights of Man


“In stating these matters, I speak an open and disinterested language, dictated by no passion but that of humanity. To me, who have not only refused offers, because I thought them improper, but have declined rewards I might with reputation have accepted, it is no wonder that meanness and imposition appear disgustful. Independence is my happiness, and I view things as they are, without regard to place or person; my country is the world, and my religion is to do good.”
― Thomas Paine, quote from Rights of Man


“… why do men continue to practice in themselves, the absurdities they despise in others?

Thomas Paine, The rights of man: being an answer to Mr Burke’s attack on the French Revolution (2nd edn, Philadelphia, 1791), p. 41.”
― Thomas Paine, quote from Rights of Man


“Every child born in the world must be considered as deriving its existence from God. The world is this new to him as it was to the first that existed, and his natural right in it is of the same kind.”
― Thomas Paine, quote from Rights of Man


“It is painful to behold a man employing his talents to corrupt himself. Nature has been kinder to Mr. Burke than he is to her. 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.”
― Thomas Paine, quote from Rights of Man


“Ignorance is of a peculiar nature: once dispelled, it is impossible to re-establish it. It is not originally a thing of itself, but is only the absence of knowledge; and though man may be kept ignorant, he cannot be made ignorant.”
― Thomas Paine, quote from Rights of Man


“To reason with governments, as they have existed for ages, is to argue with brutes. It is only from the nations themselves that reforms can be expected.”
― Thomas Paine, quote from Rights of Man


“The defects of every government and constitution both as to principle and form, must, on a parity of reasoning, be as open to discussion as the defects of a law, and it is a duty which every man owes to society to point them out.”
― Thomas Paine, quote from Rights of Man


“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.”
― Thomas Paine, quote from Rights of Man


“I will conclude this work with stating in what light religion appears to me.
If we suppose a large family of children, who, on any particular day, or particular circumstance, made it a custom to present to their parents some token of their affection and gratitude, each of them would make a different offering, and most probably in a different manner. Some would pay their congratulations in themes of verse and prose, by some little devices, as their genius dictated, or according to what they thought would please; and, perhaps, the least of all, not able to do any of those things, would ramble into the garden, or the field, and gather what it thought the prettiest flower it could find, though, perhaps, it might be but a simple weed. The parent would be more gratified by such a variety, than if the whole of them had acted on a concerted plan, and each had made exactly the same offering. This would have the cold appearance of contrivance, or the harsh one of control. But of all unwelcome things, nothing could more afflict the parent than to know, that the whole of them had afterwards gotten together by the ears, boys and girls, fighting, scratching, reviling, and abusing each other about which was the best or the worst present.
Why may we not suppose, that the great Father of all is pleased with variety of devotion; and that the greatest offence we can act, is that by which we seek to torment and render each other miserable? For my own part, I am fully satisfied that what I am now doing, with an endeavour to conciliate mankind, to render their condition happy, to unite nations that have hitherto been enemies, and to extirpate the horrid practice of war, and break the chains of slavery and oppression is acceptable in his sight, and being the best service I can perform, I act it cheerfully.
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…
As to what are called national religions, we may, with as much propriety, talk of national Gods. It is either political craft or the remains of the Pagan system, when every nation had its separate and particular deity…”
― Thomas Paine, quote from Rights of Man


“If those to whom power is delegated do well, they will be respected: if not, they will be despised; and with regard to those to whom no power is delegated, but who assume it, the rational world can know nothing of them.”
― Thomas Paine, quote from Rights of Man


“Man did not enter into society to become worse than he was before, nor to have fewer rights than he had before, but to have those rights better secured.”
― Thomas Paine, quote from Rights of Man


“No man is prejudiced in favour of a thing, knowing it to be wrong. He is attached to it on the belief of its being right; and when he sees it is not so, the prejudice will be gone. We have but a defective idea of what prejudice is. It might be said, that until men think for themselves the whole is prejudice, and not opinion; for that only is opinion which is the result of reason and reflection.”
― Thomas Paine, quote from Rights of Man


About the author

Thomas Paine
Born place: in Thetford, Norfolk, England
Born date February 9, 1737
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