Slavery in America (1775)
American opposition to slavery began with the Quakers in the late 17th century, but abolitionism didn't congeal into a movement until master propagandist Tom Paine, himself the son of a Quaker, arrived in America and penned this uncompromising condemnation of the practice. Five weeks after its publication, he helped found the first anti-slavery society in America.
Occasional Letter On The Female Sex (1775)
Early feminism from "Common Sense," which shows that he had plenty of common sense before he became "Common Sense."
Common Sense (1776)
This is it--the spark that lit the fuse of the American Revolution. With these words, Paine took a wavering people, teetering on the brink of revolution, and encouraged them to embrace the project with enthusiasm. Praised, in similar fashion, by virtually every other important leader of the American Revolution, "Common Sense" became the first bestseller in the nation's history, and Paine donated every penny of the considerable fortune it made to the cause of seeing through the revoluton it ignited.
Of The Origin and Design of Government In General, With Concise Remarks on the English Constitution
Of Monarchy and Hereditary Succession
Thoughts on the Present State of American Affairs
Of the Present Ability of America, With Some Miscellaneous Reflections
The Rights of Man (1792)
"Would you believe it possible that in this country there should be high & important characters who need your lessons in republicanism, & who do not heed them? It is but too true that we have a sect preaching up & pouting after an English constitution of king, lords, & commons, & whose heads are itching for crowns, coronets & mitres. But our people, my good friend, are firm and unanimous in their principles of republicanism & there is no better proof of it than that they love what you write and read it with delight. The printers season every newspaper with extracts from your last, as they did before from your first part of the Rights of Man. They have both served here to separate the wheat from the chaff, and to prove that tho' the latter appears on the surface, it is on the surface only."
-- Thomas Jefferson to Paine, June 19, 1792
The Declaration of the Rights of Man and Commentary
The Age of Reason (1793-1795)
In recording his own Deistic religious sentiments, Paine gives his typically masterful voice to Enlightenment-era religious notions, creating, among other things, a classic of rationalist criticism of Christian orthodoxy.
The text used is that of Moncure Daniel Conway's edition of Paine's writings, including the notes of both the author and editor (here renumbered, and collected at the end of each chapter).
Chapter I - The Author's Profession Of Faith
Chapter II - Of Missions And Revelations
Chapter III - Concerning The Character of Jesus Christ, And His History
Chapter IV - Of The Bases Of Christianity
Chapter V - Examination In Detail Of The Preceding Bases
Chapter VI - Of The True Theology
Chapter VII - Examination Of The Old Testament
Chapter VIII - Of The New Testament
Chapter IX - In What The True Revelation Consists
Chapter X - Concerning God, And The Lights Cast On His Existence And Attributes By The Bible
Chapter XI - Of The Theology Of The Christians; And The True Theology
Chapter XII - The Effects Of Christianism On Education; Proposed Reforms
Chapter XIII - Comparison Of Christianism With The Religious Ideas Inspired By Nature
Chapter XIV - System Of The Universe
Chapter XV - Advantages Of The Existence Of Many Worlds In Each Solar System
Chapter XVI - Applications Of The Preceding To The System Of The Christians
Chapter XVII - Of The Means Employed In All Time, And Almost Universally, To Deceive The Peoples
Chapter I - The Old Testament
Chapter II - The New Testament
Chapter III - Conclusion
Paine continues his examination of the Rights of Man by considering the benefits and the evils inherent in any system of landed property, the matter that would continue to vex liberal advocacy of such a system to the present day. The extremes of wealth and poverty generated by such a system are, he holds, a violation of natural right, and in need of correction.
"...the earth, in its natural uncultivated state was, and ever would have continued to be, the common property of the human race; that in that state, every person would have been born to property; and that the system of landed property, by its inseparable connection with cultivation, and with what is called civilized life, has absorbed the property of all those whom it dispossessed, without providing, as ought to have been done, an indemnification for that loss."
Paine's solution (a system of social insurance), along with most of his supporting remarks, are sure to horrify the contemporary American "Libertarians" who try to adopt him as one of their intellectual forefathers.