FACT CHECK: Did Thomas Paine Say This Quote About The Duty Of A ‘True Patriot’?

Trevor Schakohl | Legal Reporter

An image shared on Facebook claimed that English-American writer Thomas Paine once said, “The duty of a true Patriot is to protect his country from its government.”

Verdict: False

There is no evidence that Paine authored this saying. It may be a version of a quote by environmentalist writer Edward Abbey.

Fact Check:

This falsely-attributed quote has been circulating on the internet and elsewhere for years. In fact, Energy Secretary Rick Perry cited Paine as the source of the quote in a February 2015 speech.

However, there is no record of Paine ever writing or speaking these words; it appears nowhere in his collected works. The quote has come to the attention of the Thomas Paine National Historical Association, which includes it in a list of quotes “NOT from Thomas Paine” on its website.

According to etymologist Barry Popik, the quote may have originated with Abbey, an American environmentalist and anarchist author who passed away in 1989. “A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government,” he wrote in his 1989 work “A Voice Crying in the Wilderness.”

Trevor Schakohl

Legal Reporter
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