"It has been thought a considerable advance towards establishing
the principles of Freedom, to say, that government is a compact
between those who govern and those that are governed:
but this cannot be true, because it is putting the effect before
the cause; for as man must have existed before governments existed,
there necessarily was a time when governments did not exist,
and consequently there could originally exist no governors
to form such a compact with. The fact therefore must be, that the
individuals themselves, each in his own personal and sovereign right,
entered into a compact with each other to produce a government:
and this is the only mode in which governments have a right to arise,
and the only principle on which they have a right to exist."
by:
Thomas Paine
(1737-1809) US Founding father, pamphleteer, author
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Reader comments about this quote:
 -- Ed Culver, Montgomery, AL      
 -- Anonymous, Reston, VA US      
 -- Jeff Woodrum, North Vernon, Indiana      
The nail has been hit squarely on its head!
 -- john-douglas, nassau     
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    Gen. 1:26-27 The Supreme Historic record details that man was created, & given "domminion" over ALL beasts, but NOT over other of mankind. T. Paine has rightly defined TRUE & GODLY Govt. An agreed upon "COMPACT", whether between a man & woman, or several humans.
     -- Christian Gaina, Alachua Fl.     
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    To say that government is a compact between those who govern and those that are governed is more a metaphorical fact than an actual reality. It is to mean that the government cannot act unless they are authorized by their subjects to act. In a way we can say that the relationship between the government and its subjects is in a form of a contract. But this fact is to be understood in a metaphorical sense, not an actual reality. In truth, men have existed before governments did.
     -- Ramon A. del Gallego, Manila     
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    Mr del Gallego has targeted the crux of the matter. Man came long before government. Technically and factually, government is an invention of man. That man has allowed this invention to control and rule him only highlights man's stupidity and his wannton departure from his God-given role in life. In short, we are ruled by bureauractic robots. What God-forsaking fools we be!
     -- john-douglas, nassau     
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    What a revolutionary concept!!
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    ahhh yes, the foundation of the American Republic.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    john-douglas only has half the story... for as government is an invention of humans, so too are religion and god inventions of humans... there is no "god-given role in life", only that which we humans have given to ourselves...
     -- Anonymous, Reston, VA US     
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    That's funny Reston, because the document that declares the independence of every individual in the country in which you live says that "When in the course of human [man's] events, (or rather, how you say, "that which we humans have given to ourselves") it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another"... In other words, when man's creation has become so tyrannical that you can no longer deal with it, and you need to break free of that bond-- The founder's realized that if they're going to break free of man's mess, their only option was to "assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them"... in other words, their only option was an appeal to the laws of nature in accordance to nature's God... They went on to say what they meant by this, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." That is to say, the founder's appealed to their Creator for the "rights" that only he could give them... And this is the premise on which our government was built, to protect these rights given to us by our "Creator". So, Reston, I actually find john-douglas' comment to be completely accurate and in-line with our American History and Heritage... Your beliefs may change America's future, but you cannot do anything to change the truth about her past... Some truths really are "self-evident", even if some don't accept them.
     -- Logan, Memphis, TN     
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     -- P.L.McGuire, Oakland, California, US      
    WOW Can I give Logan's comments 10 stars
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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     -- Tim Richardson, Molalla, Oregon      
    This guy is good.
     -- warren, olathe     
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    As ever, Tom is correct. The first thing to remember about our Constitution is that it represents the second American Revolution. Generally, this is not taught. The delegates assembled were authorized to amend the Articles of Confederation. Instead, they replaced them. They did not have that authority. Except as it was granted by the Declaration of Independence as that right to replace what does not work where governance is concerned. The people always retain that right. Ronald Reagan was fond of reminding other foreign leaders that “In America, the people rule.” It is we, the people, who have mostly given up that right in exchange for convenience and gifts from Uncle Sugar. It is interesting that the occasional efforts to call a nationwide convention to amend the Constitution – don’t go picky on the exact details, you know what I mean – is about the only way we the people can get Congress our representatives to make a big change that we want. It is the ultimate check and balance - the fear by our Congress-people that their cushy, corrupt, gravy train will come to an end. Fortunately, for them, the people don’t even know or understand this. A bang or a whimper will not be our end. It will be a Congressional Hearing on steroids in sports!
     -- J. B. Wulff, Bristol     
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    "The fact therefore must be, that the individuals themselves, each in his own personal and sovereign right,".......to govern himself,...."entered into a compact with each other to produce".....an administration of laws....."and this is the only mode in which".......administrations created by the self governed....."have a right to arise, and the only principle on which they have a right to exist."---- I have a real problem with the use of the word government to describe our Constitutions structure that created an administration and NOT a government. We the people are the governors and the administration is supposed to work for us to safeguard the principle of natural law that grants us the authority, power, and rights to self govern.
     -- Anon     
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     -- J Carlton, Calgary      
    Thomas Paine was one of our greatest Americans. It was interesting that religous fundamentalists of that time called him an Atheist which he certainly wasn't. He, like Jefferson and several of our Founders was a Deist.
     -- jim k, austin     
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    I agree but isn't this quote contradictory? a compact is a compact numbers are irrelevant. When we stepped out of the cave we made a compact with our fellow cave dwellers, then after a while we decided to appoint a leader that would speak on our behalf - where's the difference?
     -- RBESRQ     
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    RBESRQ, there was never a time when we just 'stepped out of the cave.' We are born helpless and dependent upon our mothers. As we grow older and learn how to hunt, farm and gather, we develop relationships with others. Sometimes we make commitments to each other for a mutual benefit. This 'right to contract' also implies the right to break the contract -- however, Natural Law tells us that there is no escape from the consequences of our actions, so there may be costs associated with the break up. So while making a compact with our fellow citizens for our mutual protection may oblige us to act in accordance with that agreement, we have the right to terminate it as well should any party of the contract be in breach. Every man for himself is better than every man for one man or a coterie of men. And when I walk out of my cave, I honor the agreements I have with others, and I am in natural competition with those with whom I have no agreement. If the goal is to have no more competition or to have every game rigged, then there is no freedom, only subservience to the one who lays claim to all of us or else. Will you stand with the mafiosa or with the honorable individual who refuses to be a slave?
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    Tom Paine is always right. And the fact that our government is and always has been us makes me wonder why so many castigate themselves all of the time. We are the government and the government is us. Once we stop thinking about it as something that is outside of ourselves the sooner we will become responsible about it.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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     -- Ric V., Fairfax, VA      
    Archer, that was metaphorically speaking and so we go on. So if your mother didn't want you in the first place who is there to protect you? Your world Archer is very black and white. I'm afraid life isn't that simple. Who has the right to define Natural Law? what is Natural Law - do you mean what is naturally right? Nature knows no law it is a law to itself. All the philosophies have different understandings of Natural Law. If Natuarl Law means happiness then I'm for it but alas we all have different values when it comes to happiness - one mans happiness is another mans misery. We use the term Natural Law as though we should all agree with its interpreters understanding. Archer, I like your comments, but I'm afraid this one got my goat. Sorry, have to go, nature is calling me - dinner in the sin city, Key West
     -- RBESRQ     
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    Robert, You, Archer, Waffler, and I have the right, and obligation to define Natural Law. Natural Law is that which irrevocably is. Gravity is a Natural Law and relating to it will always be the same until another Natural Law interfaces with it. Fiscal laws are Natural Law. Life, and property rights exist within Natural Law. Through an accurate examination of history, application of known sciences, and through some trial and errors mankind may discover what Natural Law is. By way of example: if you spend more than can possibly come in, you become bankrupt. Bankrupt is man's term for the naturally occurring phenomenon. If a society allows a deprivation of the nobility of life, such as murder, said society will denigrate until final desolation. The same with theft. Codes, ordinances, regulation, rules, statutes are tools of corporeal man to define Natural Law for the good and safety of the individual (thus the society at large). Man's tools - codes, statutes, etc. may be philosophically adventuresome in facilitating one individual's happiness, or another's misery, Natural Law does not. Calling man's tools, i.e. codes, ordinances, regulations, rules, statutes, etc. law, only causes confusion, chaos, and tyranny. Such tools are not law, only an ordering for administrative purposes. Finding the correct tool to define Natural Law is always by trial and error. The greater or finite the defining tool, accurate or inaccurate, the greater the freedom or despotism. For example: unlawful (contrary to Natural Law) but legal economic rules lead to financial chaos, depression, etc. The current economic events are a repeating occurrence, bringing about the same results as before. (was it planned? we do have history to tell us what the Natural Law results will be) I had a psychologist close family member that was in several State sponsored studies showing government involvement in creating a Stockholm Syndrome among the general populous. Many of the associated Doctors were seriously black listed (and worse) for trying to go public with their true results. The forgone conclusion, after testing, displays a Natural Law result. Man's codes, statutes, etc. do not have the material results or physical consequences of Natural Law unless they are in harmony therewith. A city counsel woman comes to mind. She was against setting up dear crossing signs because there was too much traffic in the area. She was afraid it would give the deer license to cross there more often. Natural law says the deer are going to cross where every they are going to cross and, its not dependent on corporeal man's legislation. If man sets up a large wall, Natural Law says the deer will find another place to cross. Natural Law has nothing to do with philosophy, wants, desires, feelings, or the like. Natural Law is that which is. Philosophy does not account for that which is; it only exists in the abstract (argumentative only). Natural Law does not mean happiness, nor does it define values, those are personal perspectives, philosophical in nature. Natural Law states that which is regardless of philosophy. It does not matter if we agree or disagree with Natural Law. It does not matter if Natural Law is found to be pleasurable or miserable by anyone (individually or in concert) )or thing, it is - what it is. Falling off a cliff or going bankrupt may be miserable but, it is - what it is. Murder, rape, or theft may be pleasurable, being contrary to Natural Law, but, it is - what it is. Natural Law has natural consequences, a true A equals B, if you will. Waffler finds Natural Law to be a miserable tyrant because he wants the despotism, slavery, and the socialistic theocracy of democracy to mean freedom and happiness. Waffler wants prosperity to be had by some other way than the fiscal laws as exist. Robert, does that help define Natural Law for you?
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    P.S. Editor, sorry for the length of all this, I wouldn't put it all down if I didn't think it wouldn't help in the future. Natural Law is the reason morals can not be legislated. Morality is subject to individual interpretation. We all may think that murder is immoral but it is the law (Natural Law) that is legislated. We all have different sexual orientations, a morality value call. What is the law that dictates the betterment or worsening of society. What you do in your /my bedroom is not a matter for a bedroom police as it is your / my morality. Sex by a minor or rape is a matter of law. We may all agree on that morality but its still a matter of law that is to be defined by code, ordinance, regulation, rule, statute, etc. We all may say slavery is immoral but how does the Natural Law define slavery. Waffler says one man can not morally own another man but it is freedom if the collective owns the individual. I believe morality dictates that when the individual's being or property (including actions or the fruits thereof) are mandated under threat or duress that is slavery. Society will progress or digress on the Natural Law concerning slavery, not what Waffler or I morally think it is. We need look to history, science, etc to determine the law. There are many factors in determining the law, such as intent, veracity, etc. all of which are attempts at most accurately defining the Natural law.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Never have I read such a more perfect description of how I believe since altering my personal paradigm just a couple of years ago. Perhaps readers of this are familiar with the Free State Project which is highly based on the principles articulated in this statement, or has evolved to become so based.
     -- Kurt Hoffman, Keene NH     
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    Waffler, you really didn't say this did you?---- "Waffler says one man can not morally own another man but it is freedom if the collective owns the individual." So YOU can't own me, but you and your buddy can. Or you can create any kind of government that says one citizen can't own another but the government can own everybody? Who has the freedom here Waffler? Who? Shame shame Waff, shame shame.
     -- Anon     
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    Anon I have asked you before what do you mean about this ownership thing or making each other do something. Is a requirement that you stop at red lights or a stop sign a sigh in your mind that others own you? What is it that you are saying, I don't get it, please explain?
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    If the Constitution with its' support of slavery, counting slaves as being worthy of having representative but not being able to vote. having The Governments that is THE SATES appoint Senators is Natural Law then the Declarations statements of "all men are created equal" and "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" is not Natural Law. Which is folk. Roberty is right who is going to dictate what is Nautal Law.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    Mike, just returned and didn't want you to think I hadn't read your reply - its good, but its late, and I'll get to it tomorrow. Thanks for you thoughtful response - Lechyd Da
     -- RBESRQ     
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    Waffler, it doesn't matter how many times you say the Constitution supported slavery, each time you say it, it is a lie. And, all of your nonsensical attempts at philosophy does not make a situation that can be answered or debated. Your questions and statements are even more non-answerable than what came first the Chicken or the egg or can God make a rock so big He can't move it? To start with, as I've said numerous times, the Constitution is not law, it only makes provisions on which the representatives can make codes, rules, statutes, etc. defining the Natural Law. I've explained how the States appointing Senators protects the Natural Law rights of the individual sovereign ad nauseam (government's specific structure is not an Natural Law issue - how it address Natural law is.) but you refuse to accept freedom, liberty, law, and justice. Waffler, for your red light example. All individuals have the right of free travel. Order is a natural component of Natural Law. So it follows, at Natural Law, the traffic light gives order to the free travel of individuals. When there is only one person at a traffic light, and there is no on coming traffic, the red light then lawfully impairs the stopped individual's right to proceed under a compelled compliance of threat and duress.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Waffler, as for the subject of voting, you have to forget what happened in history and then, pick and choose a very limited unrelated definition of a few select occurrences to forge a brand new meaning such as you have. By way of a very brief examination: The founders first would have those sovereigns that owned land be those who could vote. Many other issues, such as eminent domain, were based on that foundation. Also, women could not vote but were counted in the census. Being counted as a person and not being able to vote had nothing to do with slavery. The vote was merely to adjust certain administrations. Once the government took on the unconstitutional status of acting from itself (allodium's non acceptance and the source of eminent domain being usurped as example) what a vote was, and what it was for, its purpose, etc. were unalterably changed. Under the new concept, none were sovereign under any condition so all were then allowed to select the representative of their masters.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Waffler, Since you were the one who stated it is not morally right for someone to own another but it's freedom if the collective owns the individual you explain what you meant by that and then I'll answer your question.
     -- Anon     
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    Anon you have made statements about "I don't own you" etc. what do you mean by that. Does the fact that you stop at stop signs or red lights when you would personally just like to speed across town mean that someone owns you. Years ago it seems Mike of Norwalk scoffed at the idea of driving on the right side of the road, like why could he not drive on the left side if he desired too. Is it these seemignly petty or not so petty everyday facts of life that is bothering you making you feel that others are telling or making you do things and making you feel owned by others. I agree with you 100% that we are controlled or restricted in many ways. We can not drive or ride horseback across town through private property. You and Mike talk as poets. You know how many poems have you read that are seemingly meaninless but have some vague essence of bitching about something but you just cannot figure our what it is. I don't remember stating anythin about the collective owning the individual. I don't use the word collective as a rule. I do believe we live and move in a society from which we get benefits and rewards from mastering its' ways. When we leave "our society" and go to Rome for example we must change and "do as the Romans do". Does that mean in your world that on that occasion the Romans would own you! I am enjoying trying to understand you Anon. I have given up on Mike but do appreciate you repartee.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    Waffler, ownership is control pure and simple and one doesn't need a certificate of ownership to "own" somebody. Give me your money and I care not what rules you govern your life by because I'll buy the people that make the laws and force you to live the way I want you to live for my benefit so I can live in the splendor that I deserve for intelligently making you believe that it's for the good of all therefore good for you. I do it and will continue to do it at YOUR expense by YOUR labor as long as we both shall live. This is a frame of mind I despise not because I want to live in splendor (I have little needs and wants) but because it is the use of amassed power that destroys lives and the lives being destroyed in America today are directly the result of that mindset. I won't detail this as it has been detailed for you many many times and you see nothing morally wrong with that centralized power to control. You avoid this issue by relating to cars and horses and then feign agreement that based on the car and the horse we are controlled in many ways and then ask "what's wrong with that?" You go ahead and master the ways of this society that is full of corruption on high and I will continue to tear at with the truth that it is a tool of evil in this day. I have no desire to convert you as only you can do that so that is not why I do what I do. I do it out of love and respect for others as that is what the moral laws of nature demand of me and every other person on this earth to make a better life for everybody in general as in the general welfare the preamble says the reason for writing the Constitution. You can pervert that result of obeying natural laws to mean all the social programs you want but it does not change the demand of nature not to control your neigbor but their are inevitable and immutable consequences to pay as you and your like minded comrades will find out when society can't suffer those consequences any longer and are forced by nature to return to its' eternal principles of justice and its' eternally correct way of living life that attains peaceful coexistence if nature's laws are parcticed in all aspects of society on earth and not just in personal relationships. Nature is poetic Waffler and the day for poetic justice is fast approaching because the above mindset refuses to change and it is a fact that those of that mindset are bringing the wrath of nature upon themselves just as Americans are by allowing that mindset to run their society as they partake of the benefits of it as well when they can get them. Nature will not be denied as history has proven over and over again by the billions of lives lost for the sake of that mindset and the reawakening of the masses when finally pushed too far by demands that can't be met. Curse, rant, cajole, empathize, wheedle and promote that mindset to high heaven that it is the way it should and must be for the benefit of all mankind because nature is not listening exactly because that mindset does not listen to nature. Nothing petty here Waffler. This is serious sh#t.
     -- Anon     
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    WOW KOOL
     -- SARAHI, TEXAS     
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    I would like to know the proper punctuation for a particular Tom Paine quote: "We are got wrong. How can we get right?" Is this two sentences or maybe one? If it is two how is it punctuated. Parden my grammar ignorance.
     -- George Forss, Cambridge, New York     
  •  
    For all... you get what you settle for...and that is what we have now. Too many people are clueless about the world we live in. Some due to ignorance, some by choice, some just misinformed. Our nation was founded on sound principles, but as they say, power corrupts. There are people out here with deep concerns regarding the U.S. But there are a lot more people out here with no concern whatsoever... and they vote, too...
     -- Harper, Waco     
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    George, try this... http://books.google.com/books?id=2sS8qQBJBaoC&pg=PA87&lpg=PA87
     -- Harper, Waco     
  •  
    Here's some more context... from the Online Library of Liberty... The motion for a Convention alarmed the crown and proprietary dependants;1 but, to every man of reflexion, it had a cordial and restorative quality. The case is, first, we are got wrongSecondly, how shall we get right? Not by a House of Assembly; because they cannot sit as Judges, in a case, where their own existence under their present form and authority is to be judged of.
     -- Harper, Waco     
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    thomas paine was one of the best writers on freedom and expression.

    I have highest regards for him
     -- dr hamid ibrahim, kuala lumpur     
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    Wow Waffler, are you trying to justify the IRS and Government intervention into our lives by comparing them to the traffic code?
    Totally inane. One is required in order to save lives...the other is a parasite.
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
  •  
    Robert, to stay on the quote's 'compact' subject; the Constitution is neither an agreement, contract, or compact. The elements of such, at law arrangements do not exist (for example: there is no "consideration" and, future generations were not there to bind themselves). There is a difference between "law" and "order". Natural law is that which 'is' (gravity, science, fiscal action, etc. - see my comments above). It is up to man to discover that which 'is' by logic, reason, observation, etc. and then to use such tools as codes ordinances, regulations, rules, statutes, etc. in administrative efforts to bring about freedom, liberty, a protection of rights and order. Order is that which derives from law. For example (and maybe this will help Waffler) It is the individual sovereign's inalienable right to travel from point 'A' to point 'B'. And another's right to travel from 'B' to 'A'. If both traveled at the same time, both of their rights would be infringed. Order is established when the here stated tools are implemented, each sovereign traveling on the right or left of each other. If the law dictated that one travel on the left or the right, everyone in the UK or the US would be dead by now. The Constitution is an 'ORDERing' document which sets forth finite administrations of law.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    I think our government persons now appoint non-governmental agencies to make rules so the people have no ability to disagree nor recourse to fight, as with the EPA. Soon our representative form of government will be gone and we will have 'experts' deciding every part of our lives.
     -- abby     
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    Genius! Any creation (the government) must be humble before the Creator (the People).
     -- Elizabeth, Astoria, NY     
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    Common sense dictates logical reasoning.
     -- Ronw13, Yachats Or     
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