Skip to main content

Rights of Man


RIGHTS OF MAN, a defense of the French Revolution written by Thomas Paine in reply to Edmund Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790). The work appeared in two parts, the first in 1791 and the second in 1792. Its circulation was great, the number of copies sold in England alone being estimated at 1.5 million. Paine argued for natural rights, claiming that man "deposits his right in the common stock of society, and takes the arm of society, of which he is a part, in preference and in addition to his own. Society grants him nothing. Every man is a proprietor in society, and draws on the capital as a matter of right."


Fennessy, R. R. Burke, Paine, and the Rights of Man: A Difference of Political Opinion. La Hague: M. Nijhoff, 1963.

Fruchtman, Jr., Jack. Thomas Paine and the Religion of Nature. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993.

Philip, Mark. Paine. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989.

J. HarleyNichols/h. s.

See alsoBill of Rights ; "Give me Liberty or Give me Death!" ; Natural Rights ; Revolution, American: Political History .

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Rights of Man." Dictionary of American History. . 20 Jan. 2019 <>.

"Rights of Man." Dictionary of American History. . (January 20, 2019).

"Rights of Man." Dictionary of American History. . Retrieved January 20, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.