RWN’s Favorite Quotes From Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense”

Thomas Paine was an enormously important figure in American history chiefly because of a pamphlet that he wrote called “Common Sense” which was released in early 1776 and is widely credited with whetting America’s appetite for revolution. Here are some of the best quotes from “Common Sense”…

“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.”

“(W)ere the impulses of conscience clear, uniform and irresistibly obeyed, man would need no other lawgiver; but that not being the case, he finds it necessary to surrender up a part of his property to furnish means for the protection of the rest; and this he is induced to do by the same prudence which in every other case advises him out of two evils to choose the least.”

“Men who look upon themselves born to reign, and others to obey, soon grow insolent; selected from the rest of mankind their minds are early poisoned by importance; and the world they act in differs so materially from the world at large, that they have but little opportunity of knowing its true interests, and when they succeed to the government are frequently the ignorant and unfit of any throughout the dominions.”

“Of more worth is one honest man to society, and in the sight of God, than all the crowned ruffians that ever lived.”

“Alas! We have been long led away by ancient prejudices, and made large sacrifices to superstition. We have boasted the protection of Great Britain, without considering, that her motive was interest not attachment; and that she did not protect us from our enemies on our account, but from her enemies on her own account, from those who had no quarrel with us on any other account, and who will always be our enemies on the same account.”

“This new world hath been the asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and religious liberty from every part of Europe. Hither they have fled, not from the tender embraces of the mother, but from the cruelty of the monster; and it is so far true that England, that same tyranny which drove the first emigrants from home, pursues their descendants still.”

“Though I would carefully avoid giving unnecessary offence, yet I am inclined to believe, that all those who espouse the doctrine of reconciliation, may be included within the following descriptions. Interested men, who are not to be trusted; weak men, who cannot see; prejudiced men, who will not see; and a certain set of moderate men, who think better of the European world than it deserves: and this last class, by an ill-judged deliberation, will be the cause of more calamities to this continent than all of the other three.”

“It is not in the power of Britain or Europe to conquer America, if she does not conquer herself by delay and timidity.”

“I have heard some men say, many of whom I believe spoke without thinking, that they dreaded an independence, fearing that it would produce civil wars. It is but seldom that our first thoughts are truly correct, and that is the case here; for there is ten times more to dread from a patched up connexion than from independence.”

“But where, say some, is the king of America? I’ll tell you, friend, he reigns above, and doth not make havoc of mankind like the royal brute of Britain.”

“To talk of friendship with those in whom our reason forbids us to have faith, and our affections, wounded through a thousand pores, instruct us to detest, is madness and folly.”

“Immediate necessity makes many things convenient, which if continued would grow into oppressions.”

“Expedience and right are different things.”

“A line of distinction should be drawn between English soldiers taken in battle and inhabitants of America taken in arms. The first are prisoners, but the latter traitors. The one forfeits his liberty, the other his head.”

Permalinks


Share this!

Enjoy reading? Share it with your friends!

Send this to a friend