Rights of Man, Common Sense, and Other Political Writings

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Oxford University Press, UK, Jan 19, 1995 - Literary Collections - 538 pages
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Thomas Paine was the first international revolutionary. His Common Sense was the most widely read pamphlet of the American Revolution, while his Rights of Man sent out a clarion call for revolution throughout the world. This collection brings together Paine's most powerful political writings in the first fully annotated edition of these works. - ;`An army of principles will penetrate where an army of soldiers cannot . . . it will march on the horizon of the world and it will conquer.' Thomas Paine was the first international revolutionary. His Common Sense (1776) was the most widely read pamphlet of the American Revolution; his Rights of Man (1791-2) was the most famous defence of the French Revolution and sent out a clarion call for revolution throughout the world. He paid the price for his principles: he was outlawed in Britain, narrowly escaped execution in France, and was villified as an atheist and a Jacobin on his return to America. Paine loathed the unnatural inequalities fostered by the hereditary and monarchical systems. He believed that government must be by and for the people and must limit itself to the protection of their natural rights. But he was not a libertarian: from a commitment to natural rights he generated one of the first blueprints for a welfare state, combining a liberal order of civil rights with egalitarian constraints. This collection brings together Paine's most powerful political writings from the American and French revolutions in the first fully annotated edition of these works. -
 

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User Review  - ulfhjorr - LibraryThing

One of the premier writers during the revolutionary crisis. Paine's Common Sense alone is worth buying this volume, but to have a collection of his other writings as well is a great bonus. Read full review

Contents

COMMON SENSE
1
AMERICAN CRISIS I
61
AMERICAN CRISIS XIII
72
LETTER TO JEFFERSON
79
RIGHTS OF MAN
83
RIGHTS OF MAN Part the Second
199
INTRODUCTION
210
CHAPTER I Of Society and Civilization
214
CHAPTER IV Of Constitutions
238
CHAPTER V Ways and Means of reforming the political Condition of Europe interspersed with Miscellaneous Observations
263
Appendix
327
LETTER ADDRESSED TO THE ADDRESSERS ON THE LATE PROCLAMATION
333
DISSERTATION ON THE FIRST PRINCIPLES OF GOVERNMENT
385
AGRARIAN JUSTICE
409
Abbreviations
435
Index
497

CHAPTER II Of the Origin of the present old Governments
220
CHAPTER III Of the new and old Systems of Government
223

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About the author (1995)

Born to parents with Quaker leanings, Thomas Paine grew up amid modest circumstances in the rural environs of Thetford, England. As the recipient of what he termed "a good moral education and a tolerable stock of useful learning," little in Paine's early years seemed to suggest that he would one day rise to a stunning defense of American independence in such passionate and compelling works as Common Sense (1776) and The American Crisis essays (1776-83). Paine's early years were characterized by a constant struggle to remain financially solvent while pursuing a number of nonintellectual activities. Nevertheless, the young Paine read such Enlightenment theorists as Isaac Newton and John Locke and remained dedicated to the idea that education was a lifelong commitment. From 1753 to 1759, Paine worked alternately as a sailor, a staymaker, and a customs officer. Between 1759 and 1772, he married twice. His first wife died within a year of their marriage, and Paine separated amicably from his second wife after a shop they operated together went bankrupt. While these circumstances seemed gloomy, Paine fortuitously made the acquaintance of Benjamin Franklin in London in 1773. Impressed by Paine's self-education, Franklin encouraged the young man to venture to America where he might prosper. Arriving in Philadelphia in 1774, Paine quickly found himself energized by the volatile nature of Revolutionary politics. Working as an editor of Pennsylvania Magazine, Paine found a forum for his passionate radical views. In the years that followed, Paine became increasingly committed to American independence, and to his conviction that the elitist and corrupt government that had ruled over him in England had little business extending its corrosive colonial power to the States. Moved by these beliefs, Paine published Common Sense (1776), a test that proved invaluable in unifying American sentiment against British rule. Later, after joining the fray as a soldier, Paine penned the familiar lines in "The American Crisis": "These are the times that try men's souls." Fifteen years later, Paine wrote his other famous work, Rights of Man (1791). Drawing on his eclectic experiences as a laborer, an international radical politician, and a revolutionary soldier, Paine asserted his Lockeian belief that since God created humans in "one degree only," then rights should be equal for every individual.

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