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Famine has been replaced
by abundance, and by the well-founded hope of a near and increasing
prosperity.

As for the defect in the Constitution, I am fully convinced that it will
be rectified constitutionally, and that this step is indispensable; for
so long as it continues it will inspire the hopes and furnish the means
of conspirators; and for the rest, it is regrettable that a Constitution
so wisely organized should err so much in its principle. This fault
exposes it to other dangers which will make themselves felt. Intriguing
candidates will go about among those who have not the means to pay the
direct tax and pay it for them, on condition of receiving their votes.
Let us maintain inviolably equality in the sacred right of suffrage:
public security can never have a basis more solid. Salut et Fraternité.

Your former colleague,

Thomas Paine.



AUTHOR'S ENGLISH PREFACE.

The following little Piece was written in the winter of 1795 and 96;
and, as I had not determined whether to publish it during the present
war, or to wait till the commencement of a peace, it has lain by me,
without alteration or addition, from the time it was written.

What has determined me to publish it now is, a sermon preached by
Watson, _Bishop of Llandaff_. Some of my Readers will recollect, that
this Bishop wrote a Book entitled _An Apology for the Bible_ in answer
to my _Second Part of the Age of Reason_. I procured a copy of his Book,
and he may depend upon hearing from me on that subject.

At the end of the Bishop's Book is a List of the Works he has written.
Among which is the sermon alluded to; it is entitled: "The Wisdom and
Goodness of God, in having made both Rich and Poor; with an Appendix,
containing Reflections on the Present State of England and France."

The error contained in this sermon determined me to publish my Agrarian
Justice. It is wrong to say God made _rich and poor_; he made only _male
and female_; and he gave them the earth for their inheritance. '...

Instead of preaching to encourage one part of mankind in insolence... it
would be better that Priests employed their time to render the general
condition of man less miserable than it is. Practical religion consists
in doing good: and the only way of serving God is, that of endeavouring
to make his creation happy. All preaching that has not this for its
object is nonsense and hypocracy.

1 The omissions are noted in the English edition of 1797.--
_Editor._.

To preserve the benefits of what is called civilized life, and to remedy
at the same time the evil which it has produced, ought to be considered
as one of the first objects of reformed legislation.

Whether that state that is proudly, perhaps erroneously, called
civilization, has most promoted or most injured the general happiness
of man, is a question that may be strongly contested. On one side,
the spectator is dazzled by splendid appearances; on the other, he is
shocked by extremes of wretchedness; both of which it has erected. The
most affluent and the most miserable of the human race are to be found
in the countries that are called civilized.

To understand what the state of society ought to be, it is necessary to
have some idea of the natural and primitive state of man; such as it is
at this day among the Indians of North America. There is not, in that
state, any of those spectacles of human misery which poverty and want
present to our eyes in all the towns and streets in Europe. Poverty,
therefore, is a thing created by that which is called civilized life. It
exists not in the natural state. On the other hand, the natural state is
without those advantages which flow from agriculture, arts, science, and
manufactures.

The life of an Indian is a continual holiday, compared with the poor of
Europe; and, on the other hand it appears to be abject when compared
to the rich. Civilization, therefore, or that which is so called, has
operated two ways: to make one part of society more affluent, and the
other more wretched, than would have been the lot of either in a natural
state.

It is always possible to go from the natural to the civilized state, but
it is never possible to go from the civilized to the natural state. The
reason is, that man in a natural state, subsisting by hunting, requires
ten times the quantity of land to range over to procure himself
sustenance, than would support him in a civilized state, where the
earth is cultivated. When, therefore, a country becomes populous by the
additional aids of cultivation, art, and science, there is a necessity
of preserving things in that state; because without it there cannot be
sustenance for more, perhaps, than a tenth part of its inhabitants. The
thing, therefore, now to be done is to remedy the evils and preserve the
benefits that have arisen to society by passing from the natural to that
which is called the civilized state.

In taking the matter upon this ground, the first principle of
civilization ought to have been, and ought still to be, that the
condition of every person born into the world, after a state of
civilization commences, ought not to be worse than if he had been born
before that period. But the fact is, that the condition of millions, in
every country in Europe, is far worse than if they had been born before
civilization began, or had been born among the Indians of North America
at the present day. I will shew how this fact has happened.

It is a position not to be controverted that the earth, in its natural
uncultivated state was, and ever would have continued to be, _the common
property of the human race_. In that state every man would have been
born to property. He would have been a joint life proprietor with the
rest in the property of the soil, and in all its natural productions,
vegetable and animal.

But the earth in its natural state, as before said, is capable of
supporting but a small number of inhabitants compared with what it
is capable of doing in a cultivated state. And as it is impossible to
separate the improvement made by cultivation from the earth itself, upon
which that improvement is made, the idea of landed property arose from
that inseparable connection; but it is nevertheless true, that it is
the value of the improvement only, and not the earth itself, that is
individual property. Every proprietor, therefore, of cultivated land,
owes to the community a _ground-rent_ (for I know of no better term
to express the idea) for the land which he holds; and it is from this
ground-rent that the fund proposed in this plan is to issue.

It is deducible, as well from the nature of the thing as from all the
histories transmitted to us, that the idea of landed property commenced
with cultivation, and that there was no such thing as landed property
before that time. It could not exist in the first state of man, that
of hunters. It did not exist in the second state, that of shepherds:
neither Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, nor Job, so far as the history of the
Bible may be credited in probable things, were owners of land. Their
property consisted, as is always enumerated, in flocks and herds, and
they travelled with them from place to place. The frequent contentions
at that time, about the use of a well in the dry country of Arabia,
where those people lived, also shew that there was no landed property.
It was not admitted that land could be claimed as property.

There could be no such thing as landed property originally. Man did not
make the earth, and, though he had a natural right to occupy it, he had
no right to locate as his property in perpetuity any part of it; neither
did the creator of the earth open a land-office, from whence the
first title-deeds should issue. Whence then, arose the idea of landed
property? I answer as before, that when cultivation began the idea of
landed property began with it, from the impossibility of separating the
improvement made by cultivation from the earth itself, upon which that
improvement was made. The value of the improvement so far exceeded the
value of the natural earth, at that time, as to absorb it; till, in the
end, the common right of all became confounded into the cultivated right
of the individual. But there are, nevertheless, distinct species of
rights, and will continue to be so long as the earth endures.

It is only by tracing things to their origin that we can gain rightful
ideas of them, and it is by gaining such ideas that we discover the
boundary that divides right from wrong, and teaches every man to know
his own. I have entitled this tract Agrarian Justice, to distinguish it
from Agrarian Law. Nothing could be more unjust than Agrarian Law in a
country improved by cultivation; for though every man, as an inhabitant
of the earth, is a joint proprietor of it in its natural state, it
does not follow that he is a joint proprietor of cultivated earth. The
additional value made by cultivation, after the system was admitted,
became the property of those who did it, or who inherited it from them,
or who purchased it. It had originally no owner. Whilst, therefore, I
advocate the right, and interest myself in the hard case of all
those who have been thrown out of their natural inheritance by the
introduction of the system of landed property, I equally defend the
right of the possessor to the part which is his.

Cultivation is at least one of the greatest natural improvements ever
made by human invention. It has given to created earth a tenfold value.
But the landed monopoly that began with it has produced the greatest
evil. It has dispossessed more than half the inhabitants of every nation
of their natural inheritance, without providing for them, as ought
to have been done, an indemnification for that loss, and has thereby
created a species of poverty and wretchedness that did not exist before.

In advocating the case of the persons thus dispossessed, it is a right,
and not a charity, that I am pleading for. But it is that kind of right
which, being neglected at first, could not be brought forward afterwards
till heaven had opened the way by a revolution in the system of
government.



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