Quotations by Paine, Thomas


An avidity to punish is always dangerous to liberty. It leads men to stretch, to misinterpret, and to misapply even the best of laws. 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.

Thomas Paine (1737-1809) American political philosopher and writer
“Dissertation on the First Principles of Government” (Jul. 1795)

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It is never to be expected in a revolution that every man is to change his opinion at the same moment. There never yet was any truth or any principle so irresistibly obvious that all men believed it at once.

Thomas Paine (1737-1809) American political philosopher and writer
“Dissertation on the First Principles of Government” (Jul. 1795)

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Those words, “temperate and moderate,” are words either of political cowardice, or of cunning, or seduction. 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 a species of vice.

Thomas Paine (1737-1809) American political philosopher and writer
“Letter Addressed to the Addressers on the Late Proclamation” (1791)

In The Writings of Thomas Paine, ed. Moncure Daniel Conway (1894). Vol. 3.
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Those words, “temperate and moderate,” are words either of political cowardice, or of cunning, or seduction. 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 a species of lie.

Thomas Paine (1737-1809) American political philosopher and writer
“Letter addressed to the addressers on the late proclamation” (1792)
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Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.

Thomas Paine (1737-1809) American political philosopher and writer
“The American Crisis,” #1 (1776)
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Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigues of supporting it.

Thomas Paine (1737-1809) American political philosopher and writer
“The Crisis” #4 (11 Sep 1777)
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Better fare hard with good men than feast it with bad.

Thomas Paine (1737-1809) American political philosopher and writer
(Attributed)
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Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour; a long habit of not thinking a thing WRONG, gives it a superficial appearance of being RIGHT, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason.

Thomas Paine (1737-1809) American political philosopher and writer
Common Sense (14 Feb 1776)

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When we are planning for posterity, we ought to remember that virtue is not hereditary.

Thomas Paine (1737-1809) American political philosopher and writer
Common Sense (14 Feb 1776)

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We have it in our power to begin the world over again.

Thomas Paine (1737-1809) American political philosopher and writer
Common Sense (14 Feb 1776)
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The more men have to lose, the less willing they are to venture.

Thomas Paine (1737-1809) American political philosopher and writer
Common Sense, “Of the Present Ability of America” (14 Feb 1776)
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Suspicion is the companion of mean souls, and the bane of all good society.

Thomas Paine (1737-1809) American political philosopher and writer
Common Sense, “Of the Present Ability of America” (1776)
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The necessity of establishing some form of government [is] to supply the defect of moral virtue.

Thomas Paine (1737-1809) American political philosopher and writer
Common Sense, “On the Origin and Design of Government in General” (14 Feb 1776)

Full text.

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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.

Thomas Paine (1737-1809) American political philosopher and writer
Common Sense, “On the Origin and Design of Government in General” (14 Feb 1776)
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When opinions are free, either in matters of government or religion, truth will finally and powerfully prevail.

Thomas Paine (1737-1809) American political philosopher and writer
The Age of Reason, Closing Words (1796)
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I believe in one God, and no more; and I hope for happiness beyond this life.

I believe in the equality of man; and I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavouring to make our fellow-creatures happy.

But, lest it should be supposed that I believe many other things in addition to these, I shall, in the progress of this work, declare the things I do not believe, and my reasons for not believing them.

I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish Church, by the Roman Church, by the Greek Church, by the Turkish Church, by the Protestant Church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church.

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.

Thomas Paine (1737-1809) American political philosopher and writer
The Age of Reason, Part 1 (1792)
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The sublime and the ridiculous are often so nearly related, that it is difficult to class them separately. One step above the sublime, makes the ridiculous; and one step above the ridiculous, makes the sublime again.

Thomas Paine (1737-1809) American political philosopher and writer
The Age of Reason, Part 2 (1794)
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These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.

Thomas Paine (1737-1809) American political philosopher and writer
The American Crisis (23 Dec 1776)

Written after Washington retreated from New Jersey.
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If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace.

Thomas Paine (1737-1809) American political philosopher and writer
The American Crisis #1 (19 Dec. 1776)

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Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.

Thomas Paine (1737-1809) American political philosopher and writer
The American Crisis #4 (1777)
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To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead, or endeavoring to convert an atheist by scripture.

Thomas Paine (1737-1809) American political philosopher and writer
The American Crisis #5, “To General Sir William Howe”
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Character is much easier kept than recovered.

Thomas Paine (1737-1809) American political philosopher and writer
The American Crisis, #13 (19 Apr 1783)
    (Source)
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Every religion is good that teaches man to be good.

Thomas Paine (1737-1809) American political philosopher and writer
The Rights of Man (1791)
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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 (1737-1809) American political philosopher and writer
The Rights of Man (1791)
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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.

Thomas Paine (1737-1809) American political philosopher and writer
The Rights of Man (1791)
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Man cannot … make circumstances for his purpose, but he always has it in his power to improve them when they occur.

Thomas Paine (1737-1809) American political philosopher and writer
The Rights of Man, ch. 1 (1791)
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Such is the irresistible nature of truth that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing.

Thomas Paine (1737-1809) American political philosopher and writer
The Rights of Man, Introduction (1791)
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