Dissertation on the First Principles of Government


Category: Liberty & Human Dignity and Politics

By Thomas Paine

Published in 1795

Reference #1071

Second Edition. Written by English-born American political activist Thomas Paine, “Dissertation on First Principles of Government. To which is added, the Speech Alluding to it, and Delivered at the Tribune of the French Convention, July 7, 1795” was printed in 1795 in London and published in the same year as the first edition in Paris. It was read before the French National Convention on July 7, 1795, where Paine was a member and was in the hall at the time to offer some suggestions on writing a new French constitution. It included a proposal for universal suffrage, which would allow all men (women were not included), no matter their status, to vote.

Despite Paine’s plea, universal suffrage was not adopted in the new constitutions nor were any of his other suggestions. Also included in this volume is the “Speech of Thomas Paine, as delivered in the Convention July 7, 1795. Wherein he alludes to the preceding Work,” which was translated out of English to French and read before the National Convention. In the speech, Paine pointed out the contradictions between the principles of 1789 and the property requirements for voting in the proposed French Constitution of 1795. No one spoke in support of Paine and the Convention adopted the proposed Constitution on September 23, 1795. Paine never appeared in the Convention again after the reading of his speech.