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About the Author
Alan Taylor is Professor of History at the University of California at Davis. He is the author of several books, including William Cooper’s Town: Power and Persuasion on the Frontier of the Early American Republic, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for History and the Bancroft Prize for American History.
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Of the Origin and Design of Government in General. With Concise Remarks on the English Constitution
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 is a patron, the last a punisher.
Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamities are heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer. Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence; the palaces of kings are built on the ruins of the bowers of paradise. For were the impulses of conscience clear, uniform, and irresistibly obeyed, man would need no other lawgiver; but that not being the case, he finds it necessary to surrender up a part of his property to furnish means for the protection of the rest; and this he is induced to do by the same prudence which in every other case advises him out of two evils to choose the least.
Table of Contents
Background to the American Revolution, 1776
From staymaker to revolutionary: The life and career of Tom Paine The argument of Common Sense
Bourgeois radicalism - the ideology of Tom Paine Paine and the American bicentennial Notes to Editor's Introduction A Note on the Text Suggestions for Further Reading
Introduction Of the Origin and Design of Government in General Of Monarchy and Hereditary Succession Thoughts on the present State of American Affairs Of the present Ability of America, with some misellaneous Reflexions Appendix To the Representatives of the Religious Society of the People called Quakers