views updated


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 .

Rights of Man

Updated About content Print Article Share Article