Thomas Paine (1737 – 1809) was an English pamphleteer, revolutionary, radical, classical liberal, inventor and intellectual. He lived and worked in Britain until the age of 37, when he migrated to the American colonies just in time to take part in the American Revolution.
Paine is sometimes known as “The Father of the American Revolution” for his writing advocating complete independence from royal rule—his pro-independence monograph pamphlet Common Sense was published anonymously on January 10, 1776 and spread quickly among literate colonists.
This is what Thomas Edison said about him:
I have always regarded Paine as one of the greatest of all Americans. Never have we had a sounder intelligence in this republic… It was my good fortune to encounter Thomas Paine’s works in my boyhood… it was, indeed, a revelation to me to read that great thinker’s views on political and theological subjects. Paine educated me then about many matters of which I had never before thought.
For some reason, North American attorneys get very anxious when Paine’s quotes are mentioned. I find it very useful to remind myself of the principles of natural justice that are the root source of all statutes
Here are a few of my favourite Paine quotes. I would encourage you think about them and to use them often.
When all other rights are taken away, the right of rebellion is made perfect.
An association of vice will reduce us more than the sword.
Pardon the affront for the sake of the truth it contains.
He who dares not offend cannot be honest.
It is easy to tell a lie, but it is difficult to support the lie after it is told.
To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.
He that picks your pocket always tries to make you look another way.
We ought not so much to ground our hopes on the reasonableness of the thing we ask, as on the reasonableness of the person of whom we ask it: who would expect discretion from a fool, candor from a tyrant, or justice from a villain?
The wretch who will write on any subject for bread, or in any service for pay, and he who will plead in any case for a fee, stands equally in rank with the prostitute who lets out her person.
An association of vice will reduce us more than the sword.
All the great services that are done in the world are performed by volunteer characters who accept no pay for them.
Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.
The nearer any disease approaches to a crisis, the nearer it is to a cure. Danger and deliverance make their advances together, and it is only the last push, in which one or the other takes the lead.
A fog is always favorable to a hunted enemy.
There is something in corruption, which, like a jaundiced eye, transfers the colour of itself to the object it looks upon, and sees everything stained and impure.
How easy it is to abuse truth and language, when men, by habitual wickedness, have learned to set justice at defiance.
Among ridiculous things nothing is more ridiculous than ridiculous rage.
Wealth is no proof of moral character; nor poverty of the want of it — On the contrary, wealth is often the presumptive evidence of dishonesty; and poverty the negative evidence of innocence.
How nearly is human cunning allied to folly! The animals to whom nature has given the faculty we call cunning, know always when to use it, and use it wisely; but when man descends to cunning, he blunders and betrays
It has been said of a thief that he had rather steal a purse than find one.
In a great affair, where the happiness of man is at stake, I love to work for nothing; and so fully am I under the influence of this principle, that I should lose the spirit, the pleasure, and the pride of it, were I conscious that I looked for reward.
My reward existed in the ambition to do good, and the independent happiness of my own mind.
The man who resorts to artifice and cunning, instead of standing on the firm and open ground of principle can easily be found out.
The principle and rule of arbitration ought to be constitutionally established. The honest sense of a country collected in convention will find out how to do this without the interference of lawyers, who may be hired to advocate any side of any cause; for the case is the practice of the bar is become a species of prostitution that ought to be controlled. It lives by encouraging the injustice it pretends to redress.
If I have any Enemies I am conscious of not having deserved them.
As to patience I have practiced it long — as long as it was honourable to do so, and when it goes beyond that point it becomes meanness.
It is not every man whose mind is strong enough to bear up against ingratitude.
While avarice and ambition have a place in the heart of man, the weak will become a prey to the strong.
There are men who have not virtue enough to be angry.
Falsehoods, if uncontradicted, might have passed for truths.
Principle, like truth, needs no contrivance.
Insolence is sure to provoke hatred, whether in a nation or an individual.
I have never yet made, and I hope I never shall make, it the least point of consideration, whether a thing is popular or unpopular, but whether it is right or wrong. That which is right will become popular, and that which is wrong will soon lose its temporary popularity, and sink into disgrace.
Even an ignorant man will not blunder in a true story — nor can an artful man keep a false story straight.
It seldom happens that the mind rests satisfied with the simple detection of error or imposition. Once put in motion, that motion soon becomes accelerated; where it had intended to stop, it discovers new reasons to proceed, and renews and continues the pursuit far beyond the limits it first prescribed to itself.
Investigation always serves to detect error, and to bring forth truth.
The boldness to do wrong at first, changes afterwards into cowardly craft, and at last into fear.
When men depart from an established principle they are compelled to resort to trick and subterfuge.
It is impossible to be a hypocrite and to be brave at the same instant.
To reason with despots is throwing reason away. The best of arguments is a vigorous preparation….
Mystery is the antagonist of truth. It is a fog of human invention, that obscures truth, and represents it in distortion. Truth never envelops itself in mystery, and the mystery in which it is at any time enveloped is the work of its antagonist, and never of itself.
Arrogance and meanness, though in appearance opposite, are vices of the same heart.
Eloquence may strike the ear, but the language of poverty strikes the heart; the first may charm like music, but the second alarms like a knell.
This is my creed of politics. If I have any where expressed myself overwarmly, ’tis from a fixed, immovable hatred I have, and ever had, to cruel men and cruel measures.
No character can stand, however fair, no reputation can survive, however honourable, if men unheard and in their absence are to be anonymously destroyed.
It is the nature of compassion to associate with misfortune.