Dissertation on First-Principles of Government

Thomas PAINE

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Item#: 113140 price:$2,900.00

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"THE RIGHT OF VOTING FOR REPRESENTATIVES IS THE PRIMARY RIGHT BY WHICH OTHER RIGHTS ARE PROTECTED. TO TAKE AWAY THIS RIGHT IS TO REDUCE A MAN TO SLAVERY": PAINE'S IMPORTANT DISSERTATION ON FIRST-PRINCIPLES, 1795

PAINE, Thomas. Dissertation on First-Principles of Government. Paris: Printed at the English Press… Third Year of the French Republic, [1795]. Slim octavo, later marbled wraps; pp. 32, (33), 34-40. $2900.

First edition in English of Paine's seminal 1795 dissertation on government, written to influence the National Convention during its struggle to create a new French constitution, Paine's urgent call for universal suffrage so that "democracy should be open to all men," featuring his speech delivered at the French National Convention in Paris on July 7, 1795, not present in all copies, where he urged its members to remember that denying "the people in a nation of their rights… is a most dangerous experiment."

Paine was a member of the National Convention during the French Revolution. In 1795, the National Convention "began to write yet another French constitution, this time to be rid of the one that had sustained the Reign of Terror… Paine wanted the Convention members to focus on allowing all men (though not women), no matter their class, to vote. The committee of eleven, which was reviewing the proposals, appeared however to be moving away from the principle of universal suffrage. Paine was convinced that democracy should be open to all men, and not merely those who paid taxes… In an effort to convince the Convention that voting should be universal, in July 1795, Paine printed his Dissertation on the First Principles of Government… Despite his own suffering at the hands of a mob gone wild, Paine's belief in the fundamental morality of democracy remained unshaken… On July 7, despite his frail health, Paine asked to speak before the Convention on these very principles" (Fruchtman, 332-3). Paine "tore away the mystery of government and felt that the 'meanest mind' could understand his simple basic principles of government. This dissertation was read on July 7, 1795, to the National Convention, while Paine was seated in the hall. The universal suffrage demanded in it was not adopted in the new constitution, nor was much attention given to his other suggestions" (Gimbel-Yale 95). Howes' first printing; Gimbel's State B, with "stands" on p. 25, line 9 crossed out and "all men" substituted in ink in margin (Gimbel-Paine:65). This copy with the "Speech of Thomas Paine, as Delivered in the Convention, July 7, 1795," often missing as it was only added to some early issues. ESTC T5825. Howes P19. Eberstadt 135:744. See Evans 29268; Goldsmith's 16488-9. Not in Sabin.

Text generally fresh with light scattered foxing. A near-fine copy of a pivotal Paine work.

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