Thomas Paine published *Agrarian Justice*

Agrarian Justice is considered to be Thomas Paine’s last great work before he passed away in 1809. He was born in England in 1737, spending time in America and France, and contributed ideas to mark the Age of Revolution. His most popular work, “Common Sense” was published in 1776, followed by other pamphlets, concluding with Agrarian Justice in 1797.

He argues that poverty is created by civilized life. If those who have wealth cause others to descend into poverty, Paine believes that this may be remedied by taxing inherited property, intended establish a national fund to benefit those who did not own land. While land may be cultivated and such improvements are considered to be owned, the natural land itself belongs to no one. And so, those who do not own property should not be sent into poverty because of this.

Paine proposes that from this national fund, a stipend be granted to young adults reaching the age of 21 to compensate for their lack of a natural inheritance. Furthermore, Paine introduces yearly social security for those upon reaching age 50 and above. He considers these grants and pensions to be rights rather than charity, hoping that by “organizing civilization upon such principles as to act like a system of pulleys that the whole weight of misery can be removed.”


Jones, Gareth Stedman. An End to Poverty? A Historical Debate. New York: Columbia University Press, 2004.

Paine, Thomas. Agrarian Justice. 1797.

Social Security Administration. “Thomas Paine.” Accessed January 10, 2016.

“Thomas Paine.” Published 2009.

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