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Rights of Man (Dover Thrift Editions) Paperback – May 14, 1999

4.6 out of 5 stars 67 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

One of the most influential writers and reformers of his age, Thomas Paine successfully publicized the issues of his time in pamphlets that clearly and persuasively argued for political independence and social reform. Written in the language of common speech, Rights Rights of Man, his greatest and most widely read work, is considered a classic statement of faith in democracy and egalitarianism.
The first part of this document, dedicated to George Washington, appeared in 1791. Defending the early events of the French Revolution, it spoke on behalf of democracy, equality, and a new European order. Part Two, which appeared the following year, is perhaps Paine's finest example of political pamphleteering and an exemplary work that supported social security for workers, public employment for those in need of work, abolition of laws limiting wages, and other social reforms.

About the Author

English-born Thomas Paine left behind hearth and home for adventures on the high seas at nineteen. Upon returning to shore, he became a tax officer, and it was this job that inspired him to write The Case of the Officers of Excise in 1772. Paine then immigrated to Philadelphia, and in 1776 he published Common Sense, a defense of American independence from England. After returning to Europe, Paine wrote his famous Rights of Man as a response to criticism of the French Revolution. He was subsequently labeled as an outlaw, leading him to flee to France where he joined the National Convention. However, in 1793 Paine was imprisoned, and during this time he wrote the first part of The Age of Reason, an anti-church text which would go on to be his most famous work. After his release, Paine returned to America where he passed away in 1809.

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Product Details

  • Series: Dover Thrift Editions
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications; Not Known edition (May 14, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486408930
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486408934
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,835 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The Rights of Man is a riposte to Edmund Burke's criticism of the French Revolution. Its message is the superiority of reason, in the form of Republican government armed with the Declaration of the Rights of Man, over despotism which holds populations in ignorance. With the American and French revolutions fresh in his mind, Paine was writing in a world on the threshold of freedom and that comes through in his forceful and forthright style. That said, and most important for the reader to appreciate, much of what he has to say still applies today. Paine in scathing in his critique of hereditary monarchy and privilege. He says "the idea of hereditary legislation is.......as absurd as an hereditary mathematician, or an hereditary wise man." He rejects the notion of government laws being justified by tradition and therefore irrevocable. His argument against Burke's defence of the 1688 revolution in England is perhaps the best in the book. Paine argues that the only thing that is truly hereditary is the Rights of Man : "The Rights of men in society, are neither devisable, nor transferrable, nor annihilable, but descendable only." The book is a superb polemic when both understood in its historical context and applied to world politics today. His arguments for reform of the House of Lords strike a particularly pertinent note. He expresses liberal doctrines that many people take for granted but in our own genocidal times Paine reminds us that many of the topics that impassioned him should continue to impassion everyone with an interest in humanity. The style of the writing may put off a few as many themes disappear and reappear throughout the book instead of being dealt with in a coherant whole. The fact that it was written in two parts and that he is one of the greatest pamphleteers of modern times should compensate for this minor irritation.
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Format: Paperback
Thomas Paine's "Rights of Man" is truly a classic defense of self government and reprsentative republicanism. Paine copmletely demolishes Edmund Burke's defense of aristocracy and monarchy as outmoded and absurd institiutions. Paine shows the immorality of monarchy and the plunder that it commits on it's own people through high taxes,unjust property laws,and priveleges for the nobility. Paine shows the virtues a representative system has over the monarchial form. He denounces aristocracy and monarchy as "frauds" and based upon tyranny. The first review by Will Murphy critsizing Paine as a sort of statist is way off the mark. Paine did recommend many ideals of the welfare state. It must be remembered he was speaking to an age where a large wealthy aristocracy ruled alongside the monarch, living in luxury off the high taxes drained from the middle, lower and working classes. Paine was one of the formost defenders of freethought in religion,speech, and ideas.To imply Paine was a sort of 18th century fascist is utterly absurd and ahistorical. Paine was not an enemy of property, just an enemy of aristocracy,who in his day did not obtain property by hard work. Usually property rights in monarchial nations were written to favor the wealthy and powerful, and grant them priveleges at the expense of the populace. Paine completely destroys the ideal that a chosen few were meant or ordained by God to rule. If you love freedom, you can't go wrong with the "Rights of Man".
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Format: Paperback
"Rights of Man" (1791-92) is Thomas Paine's famous response to Edmund Burke's "Reflections on the Revolution of France" (1790). Although it helps have read Burke's essay, a general background is sufficient to understand and appreciate Paine's basic and groundbreaking arguments.
Paine and Burke were originally allies; Burke not only supported self-rule for the American colonies, he also supported the emancipation of the House of Commons from monarchical control and the independence of both Ireland and India. Many of his allies, then, were bewildered by his fervent opposition to the French Revolution; Burke drew the line between territorial autonomy from a distant or aloof government and the total overthrow of existing monarchies and institutions. For Burke, humankind's real enemies were drastic change and "unsocial, uncivil, unconnected chaos," and he proved himself a staunch defender of the status quo, of precedent, and of gradual reform.
Jerry Muller, in his recent--and superb--book "The Mind and the Market" asserts that Burke's denunciation of the French revolution is "the single most influential work of conservative thought published from his day to ours." (This, of course, depends on what one means by "conservative.") Yet Muller and likeminded historians inevitably cherry-pick Burke's more attractive economic and philosophical arguments and foreground Burke's critique, in Muller's words, "of the revolutionary mentality that attempts to create entirely new structures on the basis of rational, abstract principles." (Muller doesn't even mention Paine, much less the example of the United States.) Such a focus inevitably sidesteps Burke's brief for the supremacy of European monarchical institutions and of the landed aristocracy. And that's where Paine comes in.
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Format: Paperback
Paine wrote RoM while in France, during the early years of the revolution, in response to an antirevolutionary pamphlet from his previous friend Burke. There is lots of polemics going on, and the crux of the matter is that Burke makes light of The Declaration of the Rights of Man, which was adopted by the French National Assembly in August 1789, after the storm of the Bastille. The Declaration, written by Lafayette with some input by Jefferson, is a brief and concise document. It became the preamble of the constitution of 1791.
Here a shortened version.
1. Men are born and remain free and equal in rights. Social distinctions may be founded only upon the general good.
2. The aim of all political association is the preservation of the ... rights of man. These rights are liberty, property, security, and resistance to oppression.
3. The principle of all sovereignty resides essentially in the nation. ...
4. Liberty consists in the freedom to do everything which injures no one else; ... These limits can only be determined by law.
5. Law can only prohibit such actions as are hurtful to society. Nothing may be prevented which is not forbidden by law, and no one may be forced to do anything not provided for by law.
6. Law is the expression of the general will. Every citizen has a right to participate personally, or through his representative, in its foundation. It must be the same for all, whether it protects or punishes. ...
7. No person shall be accused, arrested, or imprisoned except in the cases and according to the forms prescribed by law. ...
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