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Thomas Paine Quotes That May Cause You to Question Your Philosophy

These Thomas Paine quotes highlight his thoughts on peace and war, intelligence, virtues, and much more.

Thomas Paine is most famous for writing “Common Sense”, which would help fuel the American Revolution.

Many of his writings made their way into the Declaration of Independence.

Common Sense was written as a way to rally the colonists into seeking independence and not just tax relief.

The “call to action” pamphlet was written clearly and used persuasive language as a way to mobilize the American man into action.

Paine believed that the colonies needed to find a way to leave the rule of England and that creating a democratic republic was in the nations best interest.  

Below is our collection of inspirational, wise, and thought-provoking Thomas Paine quotes and sayings, collected from a variety of sources over the years.

We also have a collection of famous Alexander the Great quotes that will inspire you to do the impossible.

Thomas Paine quotes about peace and trouble

1. “I prefer peace. But if trouble must come, let it come in my time, so that my children can live in peace.” ―  Thomas Paine

2. “The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.” ―  Thomas Paine

3. “I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.” ―  Thomas Paine

4. “Those who want to reap the benefits of this great nation must bear the fatigue of supporting it.” ―  Thomas Paine

5. “Arms discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property… Horrid mischief would ensue were the law-abiding deprived of the use of them.” ―  Thomas Paine

6. “It is necessary to the happiness of man that he be mentally faithful to himself. Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving, it consists in professing to believe what he does not believe.” ―  Thomas Paine

7. “But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks, and all it wants is the liberty of appearing.” ―  Thomas Paine

8. “It is not a field of a few acres of ground, but a cause, that we are defending, and whether we defeat the enemy in one battle, or by degrees, the consequences will be the same.” ― Thomas Paine

9. “These are the times that try men’s souls.” ―  Thomas Paine

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

11. “He who is the author of a war lets loose the whole contagion of hell and opens a vein that bleeds a nation to death.” ―  Thomas Paine

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Thomas Paine quotes about government and religion

12. “Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.” ―  Thomas Paine

13. “The whole religious complexion of the modern world is due to the absence from Jerusalem of a lunatic asylum.” ―  Thomas Paine

14. “He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.” ―  Thomas Paine

15. “I believe in the equality of man; and I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavoring to make our fellow-creatures happy.” ―  Thomas Paine

16. “Persecution is not an original feature in any religion, but it is always the strongly marked feature of all religions established by law.” ―  Thomas Paine

17. “The Vatican is a dagger in the heart of Italy.” ―  Thomas Paine

18. “The World is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.” ― Thomas Paine

19. “Society in every state is a blessing, but government, even in its best stage, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one.” ―  Thomas Paine

20. “Belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man.” ―  Thomas Paine

21. “To establish any mode to abolish war, however advantageous it might be to Nations, would be to take from such Government the most lucrative of its branches.” ―  Thomas Paine

22. “Of all the tyrannies that affect mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst.” ―  Thomas Paine

23. “It is not a God, just and good, but a devil, under the name of God, that the Bible describes.” ― Thomas Paine

24. “Any system of religion that has anything in it that shocks the mind of a child, cannot be true.” ―  Thomas Paine

25. “That God cannot lie, is no advantage to your argument, because it is no proof that priests can not, or that the Bible does not.” ―  Thomas Paine

26. “Is it not a species of blasphemy to call the New Testament revealed religion when we see in it such contradictions and absurdities.” ―  Thomas Paine

27. “There are matters in the Bible, said to be done by the express commandment of God, that are shocking to humanity and to every idea we have of moral justice.” ―  Thomas Paine

28. “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.” ―  Thomas Paine

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Thomas Paine quotes about knowledge, principles, and ignorance

29. “Reason obeys itself, and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it.” ―  Thomas Paine

30. “The most formidable weapon against errors of every kind is reason.” ―  Thomas Paine

31. “One good schoolmaster is of more use than a hundred priests.” ―  Thomas Paine

32. “Time makes more converts than reason.” ―  Thomas Paine

33. “There are two distinct classes of what are called thoughts: those that we produce in ourselves by reflection and the act of thinking and those that bolt into the mind of their own accord.” ―  Thomas Paine

34. “It is the direction and not the magnitude which is to be taken into consideration.” ―  Thomas Paine

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

36. “My mind is my own church.” ―  Thomas Paine

37. “‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.” ―  Thomas Paine

38. “Every science has for its basis a system of principles as fixed and unalterable as those by which the universe is regulated and governed. Man cannot make principles; he can only discover them.” ―  Thomas Paine

39. “Every science has for its basis a system of principles as fixed and unalterable as those by which the universe is regulated and governed. Man cannot make principles; he can only discover them.” ―  Thomas Paine

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Thomas Paine quotes about rightness, virtues, and value

40. “What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value.” ―  Thomas Paine

41. “A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right.” ― Thomas Paine

42. “When we are planning for posterity, we ought to remember that virtue is not hereditary.” ― Thomas Paine

43. “Virtues are acquired through endeavor, Which rests wholly upon yourself. So, to praise others for their virtues Can but encourage one’s own efforts.” ―  Thomas Paine

44. “Moderation in temper is always a virtue, but moderation in principle is always a vice.” ― Thomas Paine

45. “The abilities of man must fall short on one side or the other, like too scanty a blanket when you are abed. If you pull it up on your shoulders, your feet are left bare; if you thrust it down to your feet, your shoulders are uncovered.” ―  Thomas Paine

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46. “Human nature is not of itself vicious.” ―  Thomas Paine

47. “It is an affront to treat falsehood with complaisance.” ―  Thomas Paine

48. “It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry.” ―  Thomas Paine

49. “Suspicion is the companion of mean souls and the bane of all good society.” ―  Thomas Paine

50. “He that rebels against reason is a real rebel, but he that in defense of reason rebels against tyranny has a better title to Defender of the Faith, than George the Third.” ―  Thomas Paine

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More Thomas Paine quotes and sayings

51. “From the errors of other nations, let us learn wisdom.” – Thomas Paine

52. “It is important that we should never lose sight of this distinction. We must not confuse the peoples with their governments…” – Thomas Paine

53. “I offer nothing more than simple facts, plain arguments, and common sense.” – Thomas Paine

54. “The more men have to lose, the less willing are they to venture.” – Thomas Paine

55. “The most effective process is that of improving the condition of man by means of his interest.” – Thomas Paine

56. “A government which cannot preserve the peace, is no government at all.” – Thomas Paine

57. “It is not in numbers, but in unity, that our great strength lies.” – Thomas Paine

58. “Whatever the form or constitution of government may be, it ought to have no other object than general happiness.” – Thomas Paine

59. “Teach governments humanity. It is their sanguinary punishments that corrupt mankind.” – Thomas Paine

60. “There never yet was any truth or principle so irresistibly obvious, that all men believed it at once.” – Thomas Paine

What did you learn from these Thomas Paine quotes?

It’s clear that the founding fathers of our country found inspiration in the works of Thomas Paine.

I wonder what our country would like today, had he not shared his views with the masses and encouraged a form of enlightened thinking.

When asked if he had wanted to change his thoughts on religion before dying he said: “I have no wish to believe on that subject,” right before taking his last breath.

It was so important to him that people did not make false accounts of any death bed confessions that he refused to be alone.

What do you think he would think of America and England today?

Do you have an inspiring Thomas Paine quote that you would like to add to the mix?

You can drop it in the comment section below.

Danielle Dahl, Lead Contributor
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  1. Roger Vipond

    October 12, 2020 at 3:00 PM

    As an archetypal Brit, I am instinctively wary of any and all “self-help” mantras, but …

    They can all be discarded if you simply absorb Thomas Paine’s insights, as you have very helpfully displayed them here.

    Thank you. Roger.

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