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Thomas Paine and "Common Sense"
Thomas Paine was born 275 years ago on January 29. He died in 1809 at 59 Grove Street in New York City, where a plaque marks his passing.
Paine’s writings, especially Common Sense, helped the American cause in the Revolution, and John Adams credited him with a crucial role in the winning of that war.
Paine was not shy in expressing his opinions, and his writings about religion made him unpopular. Here are some of his words from his most famous works:
"When we are planning for posterity, we ought to remember that virtue is not hereditary."
"It is of the utmost danger to society to make it (religion) a party in political disputes."
"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. 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. 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."
"If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace."
"I speak an open and disinterested language, dictated by no passion but that of humanity. To me, who have not only refused offers, because I thought them improper, but have declined rewards I might with reputation have accepted, it is no wonder that meanness and imposition appear disgustful. 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."
"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."
"It is only by the exercise of reason that man can discover God."
"The most detestable wickedness, the most horrid cruelties, and the greatest miseries, that have afflicted the human race have had their origin in this thing called revelation, or revealed religion."