Today is “National Freethinker’s Day” — also known as Thomas Paine Day, as he was born on this date in 1737. Throughout his life, he wrote many influential books and pamphlets including The Age of Reason, The Rights of Man, and Common Sense. Each of these works brought public attention to key issues and helped establish the philosophical foundation for the American Revolution.
Paine’s writing inspired many people to strive for political, economic, and social advancement. He was also one of the first people to call for an end to slavery and universal human rights.
Freethinkers Day has been celebrated since the 1990s. Its purpose is to educate people about Paine’s work and the importance of freethinking, freedom and liberty.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes from Common Sense and The American Crisis:
Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness POSITIVELY by uniting our affections, the latter NEGATIVELY by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first a patron, the last a punisher.
O! ye that love mankind! Ye that dare oppose not only tyranny but the tyrant, stand forth! Every spot of the Old World is overrun with oppression. Freedom hath been hunted round the globe. Asia and Africa have long expelled her. Europe regards her like a stranger and England hath given her warning to depart. O! receive the fugitive and prepare in time an asylum for mankind.
It is of the utmost danger to society to make it (religion) a party in political disputes.
There is something exceedingly ridiculous in the composition of monarchy; it first excludes a man from the means of information, yet empowers him to act in cases where the highest judgment is required.
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.
I offer nothing more than simple facts, plain arguments, and common sense.
Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.
You can read more from Thomas Paine here.