Rights of Man presents an impassioned defense of the Enlightenment principles of freedom and equality that Thomas Paine believed would soon sweep the world. He boldly claimed, "From a small spark, kindled in America, a flame has arisen, not to be extinguished. Without consuming... it winds its progress from nation to nation."
Though many more sophisticated thinkers argued for the same principles, and many people died in the attempt to realize them, no one was better able than Paine to articulate them in a way that fired the hopes and dreams of the common man and actually stirred him to revolutionary political action.
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"... there are times when silence is a poem." - John Fowles, the Magus ^(;,;)^
Thomas Paine is one of those writers who seemed to have been dropped by a deist God 200 years before the world was really ready for him. His energy, honesty and political bravery was intense. By his voice alone he helped transform the West. Common Sense, the Rights of Man, and finally the Age of Reason have all thrown the gauntlet down and caused people to either cheer him (Common Sense) or hiss his name (Age of Reason).
The Rights of Man was visionary in its call for intellectual republicanism and social justice. Paine was and is a prophetic voice for individual freedom and moral equality. He is my favorite founder to quote whenever I find myself in a debate where someone wants to lump the 'Founders' together in some giant Libertarian Christianity pudding. He was a true radical and a true American.
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