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

In a sense, Thomas Paine’s greatest role in the foundation of the United States was as a propagandist. His pamphlets Common Sense and The American Crisis both stirred up fiery rebellious sentiment against British rule. Although he did not sign the Declaration of Independence, Paine was every bit a Founding Father. The British would most certainly have turned him into a windchime had the patriots not won the war.

Thomas Paine quotes reflect many of the ideas which the Founding Fathers presented in the Declaration of Independence. And while they acknowledged that a country’s government should not be changed will nilly, the Founding Fathers never treated the English monarchy as something deserving of reverence. Surely they all recalled what Paine wrote in Common Sense as they did so:

“[N]o man in his senses can say that their claim under William the Conqueror is a very honourable one. A French bastard landing with an armed Banditti and establishing himself king of England against the consent of the natives, is in plain terms a very paltry rascally original. It certainly hath no divinity in it.”

Yet not all of Paine’s beliefs were embraced during the early years of the Republic. His vehement opposition to slavery, for example, wasn’t very well received by certain plantation owners. The nasty letter he sent to George Washington when the president failed to intervene during his imprisonment in France didn’t help Paine endear himself to many of the other Founding Fathers, either. No one calls Big George a hypocrite.

In Paine’s writing, we see several libertarian ideals as well. His description of government as parasitic – a thing which serves only to choke innovation and progress – would fit perfectly into an endless John Galt monologue. Like Paine, libertarians recognize any government which overzealously punishes its citizenry as one which is only concerned with maintaining its authority. And Paine, who believed in only using reason to compel others to share his views, resonates with every libertarian who disavows violence. (That’s probably why there are no libertarian governments.)

Best Thomas Paine Quotes

“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
Thomas Paine Quote

“He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression.”
– Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine Quote

“Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigues of supporting it.”
– Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine Quote

“Whatever is my right as a man is also the right of another; and it becomes my duty to guarantee as well as to possess.”
– Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine Quote

“I have always strenuously supported the right of every man to his own opinion, however different that opinion might be to mine. He who denies to another this right, makes a slave of himself to his present opinion, because he precludes himself the right of changing it.”
– Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine Quote

“Society is produced by our wants, and government by wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher.”
– Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine Quote

“A body of men holding themselves accountable to nobody ought not to be trusted by anybody.”
– Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine Quote

“We still feel the greedy hand of government thrusting itself into every corner and crevice of industry, and grasping at the spoil of the multitude. Invention is continually exercised to furnish new pretenses for revenue and taxation. It watches prosperity as its prey and permits none to escape without a tribute.”
– Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine Quote

“Governments … pervert the abundance which civilized life produces… It affords to them pretenses for power and revenue, for which there would be neither occasion nor apology, if the circle of civilization were rendered complete.”
– Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine Quote

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

Thomas Paine Quote

“I become irritated at the attempt to govern mankind by force and fraud, as if they were all knaves and fools.”
– Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine Quote
“For all men being originally equals, no one by birth could have the right to set up his own family in perpetual preference to all others forever, and tho’ himself might deserve some decent degree of honours of his cotemporaries, yet his descendants might be far too unworthy to inherit them.”
Thomas Paine Quote

“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

Thomas Paine Quote

“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

Thomas Paine Quote

“What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.”
– Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine Quote

“If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace.”
– Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine Quote

“The real man smiles in trouble, gathers strength from distress, and grows brave by reflection.”
– Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine Quote

“Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”
– Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine Quote

“Let them call me a rebel and welcome. I feel no concern from it. But should I suffer the misery of devils, were I to make a whore of my soul.”
– Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine Quote

“Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving; it consists in professing to believe what he does not believe.”
– Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine Quote

“…taxes are not raised to carry on wars, but that wars are raised to carry on taxes”
– Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine Quote

“Small islands, not capable of protecting themselves, are the proper objects for kingdoms to take under their care; but there is something absurd, in supposing a continent to be perpetually governed by an island.”
– Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine Quote

“Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence; the palaces of kings are built on the ruins of the bowers of paradise.”
– Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine Quote

“When men yield up the privilege of thinking, the last shadow of liberty quits the horizon.”
– Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine Quote

“The most formidable weapon against errors of every kind is reason. I have never used any other, and I trust I never shall.”
– Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine Quote

“An army of principles can penetrate where an army of soldiers cannot.”
– Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine Quote

Virtually anything Thomas Paine ever wrote could be copied and pasted into a collection of Thomas Paine quotes. And it is fortunate that he wrote Common Sense and The American Crisis in the 18th century. Had he done so today, he would likely have gotten his name punched into every watchlist the U.S. government compiles.