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Thomas Paine's Rights of Man

1791

Thomas Paine's Rights of Man

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  • Intro

    Thomas Paine’s most famous work, The Rights of Man was published in 1791, two years after the French Revolution. In it he defended the values of the Revolution  - those of ‘Liberté, égalité, fraternité’ (the French for 'liberty, equality and brotherhood'). Paine explored the idea that government based on true justice should support not only mankind's natural rights (life, liberty, free speech, freedom of conscience) but also its civil rights (relating to security and protection).

     

    He highlighted the fact that only a fraction of the people who paid taxes were entitled to vote. Using detailed calculations, Paine showed how a tax system, including a form of income tax, could provide social welfare in support of those civil rights. Decades ahead of his time, he outlined a plan covering widespread education, child benefit, pensions for the elderly, poor relief and much more. The book sold tens of thousands of copies and became one of the most widely read books in the Western world at the time.

     

    Shelfmark: 523.f.19

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