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“Rights of man,”

The title of Thomas Paine's famous reply to Edmund Burke's Reflections on the French Revolution. It was issued in England, and had an immense sale. It was translated into French, and won for the author a seat in the French National Assembly. Thomas Jefferson, then Secretary of State, had come from France filled with the radical ideas of the French Revolutionists, and thought he saw, in the coolness of the President and others, a sign of decaying republicanism in America. The essays of Adams, entitled Discourses on Davila, disgusted him, and he believed that Adams, Hamilton, Jay, and others were plotting for the establishment of a monarchy in the United States. To thwart these fancied designs and to inculcate the doctrines of the French Revolution, Jefferson hastily printed in America, and circulated, Paine's Rights of man, which had just been received from England. It was originally dedicated “to the President of the United States.” It inculcated principles consonant with the feelings and opinions of the great body of the American people. The author sent fifty copies to Washington, who distributed them among his friends, but his official position admonished him to be prudently silent about the work, for it bore hard upon the British government. The American edition, issued from a Philadelphia press, contained a commendatory note from Mr. Jefferson, which had been privately written, and not intended for publication. In it he had aimed some severe observations against the author of the Discourses on Davila. This created much bitterness of feeling. Warm discussions arose. John Quincy Adams, son of the Vice-President, wrote a series of articles in reply to the Rights of man, over the signature of “Publico.” They were published in the Boston Centinel, and reprinted in pamphlet form, with the name of John Adams on the title-page, as it was supposed they were written by him. Several writers answered them. “A host of champions entered the arena immediately in your defence,” Jefferson wrote to Paine. See Ingersoll, Robert Green; Paine, Thomas.

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