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Natural Rights and Civil Rights as Taught by Thomas Paine

“Natural rights are those which always appertain to man in right of his existence. Of this kind are all the intellectual rights, or rights of the mind, and also all those rights of acting as an individual for his own comfort and happiness, which are not injurious to the rights of others.”

“Civil rights are those which appertain to man in right of his being a member of society. Every civil right has for its foundation some natural right pre-existing in the individual, but to which his individual power is not, in all cases, sufficiently competent. Of this kind are all those which relate to security and protection.”

And there you have it, two points beautifully illustrated by the incomparable Thomas Paine.

  • Amanda

    Are these found in “the Right’s of Man” ?

    • oneclimbs

      Yes, that’s correct.

  • Sarah

    It appears as though Thomas Paine was inspired to write about rights because of the Americans insisting that they had rights. Is the U.S. Constitution what made him want to write “The Rights of Man”? Although he wrote this document to defend the French Revolution, I can’t help wondering if the U.S. Constitution influenced him, but it might have just been the French Constitution.

    • oneclimbs

      Personally, I have no clue. I’m sure the environment as a whole made an impact seeing as how these things were being hotly debated at the time. I’m not sure how much it matters seeing that the principles being advocated were essentially the same in both places.