The Rights of
Paine, largely self-educated,
comes to the colonies after meeting Benjamin Franklin in
Paine is writing for Pennsylvania Magazine, later became its editor and
begins working on Common Sense.
Without Thomas Paine's newsprint
'magazines' there might never have been an
Paine, a liberal thinker, opposes
slavery, abhors monarchy
and promotes republicanism - res-publica, the public affairs, or the public
Liberal thinkers of his time -
Samuel Adams and
Benjamin Franklin -
were skeptical of the institutions of
power that included the
"kingly oppressions" of monarchs, the Roman
Catholic church and chartered incorporations of that time represented by
the dominant predatory giant of the day - the
great part of that order which reigns among mankind is not the effect of
That order has its origin in
the principles of society and
the natural constitution of
That order existed prior
to government, and would continue to exist if the formality of government was
dependence and reciprocal interest which man has upon man, and
all the parts of civilized
community upon each other, create that
great chain of
connection which holds it together.
Common interest regulates
citizen's concerns, and forms their law; and
the laws which common usage ordains,
have a greater influence than the laws of government.
Society performs for itself almost
everything which is ascribed to government.
No one man is capable,
without the aid of society, of supplying his own wants, and
those wants, acting upon every individual, impel the whole into society,
as naturally as gravitation
has implanted in man a system of social affections, which,
necessary to his existence, are essential to his happiness.
instant formal government is abolished, society begins to act: a general
association takes place, and common interest produces common
In short, man is so naturally a creature of society that
it is almost impossible to put him out of it.
All the great laws of
society are natural
Those of trade and commerce, whether with regard to the
intercourse of individuals or of nations, are
laws of mutual and reciprocal
These laws are followed and obeyed, because it is the
interest of the parties so to do, and not on account of any formal laws their
governments may impose or interpose.
Governments, far from being always the cause
or means of order, are often the destruction of it.
One of the great
advantages of the American
Revolution has been, that it led to a discovery of the principles, and laid
open the imposition, of governments.
All the revolutions till then had
been worked within the atmosphere of a court, and never on the grand floor of a
The parties were always of the
class of courtiers; and whatever was
their rage for reformation, they carefully preserved the fraud of the
blinding the understanding of man,
and making him believe that government is some wonderful
Government is nothing more than a
national association added onto the principles of society.
Government, on the old system, is
an assumption of power, for
the aggrandizement of itself;
on the new, a delegation of power for
the common benefit of society.
The former supports itself by keeping up a
system of war; the latter promotes a
system of peace, as the true means of
enriching a nation.
one encourages national
prejudices; the other promotes
universal society, as the
means of universal commerce.
one measures its prosperity, by the
quantity of revenue it extorts;
the other proves its
excellence, by the small quantity of taxes it requires.
glanced at a few of the defects of the old hereditary systems of
government, let us
compare it with the new,
or representative system.
representative system of government is calculated to produce the wisest laws,
by collecting wisdom from where it can
That which is called
government is no more than some common center in which all the parts of society
A nation is not a
body, the figure of which is to be represented by the human body; but is
like a body contained within a circle,
having a common center, in which every radius meets; and that center is formed
The system of government now called the new,
representative government, is the most ancient in principle of all that have
existed, being founded on the
original, inherent rights of the
living human being.
the sword have suspended the exercise of those rights for many centuries
past, it serves better the purpose of distinction to call it the new, than
to claim the right of calling it the old.
The representative system
takes the culture for its basis;
experience, for its guide.
A truly representative system will parallel
the order and immutable
laws of nature.
representative system diffuses such a body of knowledge throughout a nation, on
the subject of government, as to
explode ignorance and
Government that does not act on the principle
of a Republic, the res-publica as its sole object, is
A republican form of government is no other than
government established and conducted for the interest of the public,
individually as well as collectively.
A republican form of government is
not necessarily connected with any particular form, but it most naturally
associates with the representative form.
In the representative system,
the reason for everything must
publicly appear (be transparent).
Every man is a proprietor in
government, and considers it a necessary part of his business to
Government concerns his interest, because it
affects his property and his rights.
A thinking man examines the
cost, and compares it with the advantages; and above all, he does not adopt the
slavish custom of following what in other governments are called
LEADERS." - Thomas Paine,
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