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Writer Thomas Paine is arrested in France

Writer Thomas Paine is arrested in France

Thomas Paine is arrested in France for treason. Though the charges against him were never detailed, he had been tried in absentia on December 26 and convicted. Before moving to France, Paine was an instrumental figure in the American Revolution as the author of Common Sense, writings used by George Washington to inspire the American troops. Paine moved to Paris to become involved with the French Revolution, but the chaotic political climate turned against him, and he was arrested and jailed for crimes against the country.

When he first arrived in Paris, Paine was heartily welcomed and granted honorary citizenship by leaders of the revolution who enjoyed his antiroyalty book The Rights of Man. However, before long, he ran afoul of his new hosts. Paine was strictly opposed to the death penalty under all circumstances and he vocally opposed the French revolutionaries who were sending hundreds to the guillotine. He also began writing a provocative new book, The Age of Reason, which promoted the controversial notion that God did not influence the actions of people and that science and rationality would prevail over religion and superstition. Although Paine realized that sentiment was turning against him in the autumn of 1793, he remained in France because he believed he was helping the people.

After he was arrested, Paine was taken to Luxembourg Prison. The jail was formerly a palace and unlike any other detainment center in the world. He was treated to a large room with two windows and was locked inside only at night. His meals were catered from outside, and servants were permitted, though Paine did not take advantage of that particular luxury. While in prison, he continued to work on The Age of Reason.

Paine’s imprisonment in France caused a general uproar in America and future President James Monroe used all of his diplomatic connections to get Paine released in November 1794. Ironically, it wasn’t long before Paine came to be despised in the United States, as well. After The Age of Reason was published, he was called an anti-Christ, and his reputation was ruined. Thomas Paine died a poor man in 1809 in New York.

Thomas Paine Citizen Of The World History Essay

Thomas Paine was born in England and granted honorary citizenship in both America and France for his contributions to the countries’ development. All three of these countries at one time or another wanted nothing to do with him, wanted him imprisoned or even wanted him dead. This was because a countries affiliation with him was based more on when it was convenient or politically accommodating. Thomas Paine was not really a citizen of any of these countries, but truly he was, as he put it, "A citizen of the world", driven by his urge to inspire all humanity to be based on reason, freedom and equality regardless of the borders or political systems that surrounded him (Solinger 609).

Thomas Paine spent his first 37 years in England, the country he was born in, with relatively little significance. At the age of 36 he was working as an excise officer for the English government. While serving in this position he wrote a proposal to parliament for an increase in compensation for himself and his fellow workers. This was the first notable instance of him taking a stand to demand what he believed was fair. His request led him to being discharged from his position and he soon found himself penniless. Shortly after this he had the good fortune of meeting and making a very strong impression on Benjamin Franklin who convinced him that America would be a better fit for him and his beliefs. So, with a letter of introduction from Franklin, Paine took the trip across the Atlantic to start a new life in Philadelphia and this is where his story truly begins (Nash).

Once Paine arrived in America he took a job serving as an editor for the Pennsylvania Magazine which had a fundamental basis of encouraging the colonists to resist British policies and dominance over them. In this time, many of Paine’s beliefs were being solidified and brought to public debate. He argued against slavery, dominance of one country over another, ignoring the poor and discrimination of any given faith or financial background. He believed society should be governed by the people who make it up and supported by logic, reason, and equality (Jendrysik 142-143). This is where Paine started to truly find his revolutionary voice and the popularity of the magazine led Paine to write his first of many historical pamphlets called Common Sense (Nash).

In Common Sense, Paine began to really find his audience and displayed an uncanny ability to inspire his readers to share his view. He was naturally driven to unmask and expel those in positions of power who attained them without what he considered legitimate merit (Solinger 602). He portrayed the British authorities as men who contradicted their own laws of behaviors and argued that obedience to such men was unnatural and a disservice to future generations (Solinger 602). Common Sense became widely read by the colonists and helped to inspire the Americans to enter into a war with their mother country.

After inspiring Americans to rise up and revolt against the British, the war looked as if it was going to end very quickly with the British simply dominating the American troops and American military failures at almost every turn. With American troops on the verge of defeat, yet to claim even one victory and emotionally drained, Thomas Paine wrote The Crisis, the first of many pamphlets under that title. It opened up with the line "These are the times that try men’s souls." This pamphlet served to further justify the reasons and importance of the revolution and inspired the troops to fight on and many other colonists to enlist. It is said that General George Washington had it read to all of his men just before crossing the Delaware and claiming the first, and maybe the most important, victory for the Americans. It was at this point that the momentum of the war began to shift (Gallagher 87). While maybe the inspiration to the troops may have been enough, Paine was not just a pamphleteer writing for others to fight a war he felt was necessary, he himself enlisted to fight for the cause.

Paine went on to write several more Crisis papers, continuing to feed the moral of the troops and donated the profits of the pamphlet sales to fund the effort. When the revolution was finally won by America, Paine was seen as a hero and many states recognized him with pensions and gifts (Nash).

Aside from inspiring the troops, Paine also participated in the debates around the construction of a new government. He believed that every man should be given a right to vote because exclusions were precarious and while some individuals may not have the ability to vote, the ability to revolt cannot be taken away so easily. He believed the elected officials of the new government should be restricted to serve short terms to combat the possibility of corruption. He believed in a system of checks and balances and that representative government was the only way the people of the represented nation retained any freedom or natural rights (Kittle 17).

After the war in America was won Paine returned to England where he turned his focus off from politics and instead to science. In this time he worked on inventions such as a crane, smokeless candles, an engine operated by gun powder and maybe what he is most noted for, a single span iron bridge which was recognized an approved by the French Academy (Clark 141). He was relatively quiet in this time in terms of his writings but his belief remained firm. Then, with the rise of the French Revolution, Paine was once again inspired to write after Edmund Burke wrote a paper trying to encourage the French citizens to end it and maintain the monarchy. In response to Burke, Paine wrote another of his most famous works, Rights of Man, further asserting that no man was preordained to rule over another and that monarchies are the result of corrupted men in history (Nash). To sum up the ideas of Rights of Man, Mark Jendrysik, author of Tom Paine:Utopian? puts it, "Social Order cannot be maintained unless the conditions of poverty and oppression under which most people live are ended." Paine wrote Rights of Man while still living in England and the ideas it provided inspired many in England to put these revolutionary concepts into petitions to Parliament. This resulted not in the petitions being considered but instead the English government released a royal declaration accusing these people of sedition and giving royal consent to anyone who wanted to attack people of these beliefs (Andrews 7). It also led to Paine himself being charged with seditious libel and he fled to France where the very same work earned him honorary citizenship (Nash).

In August 1792 the monarchy of France was suspended and the Legistlative Assembly was replaced with a National Convention. Paine was elected to be a part of this convention, aligning himself with the Girondin political group. In the following months he was one of 9 people to help draft France’s new constitution and argued that the former king, Louis XVI, be given a fair trial. Paine believed the king was guilty of tyranny but he also believed that he deserved the right to defend his innocence. He also argued that, upon conviction, the king should not be put to death, but instead be banished to America to live out his years in the young country he did help to set free. He was able to convince just under half the majority of the convention and his position was defeated. Louis the XVI was later beheaded (Andrews 8). The defeat of this motion not only cost the former king his life, but it marked a shift in power of the fiercely divided and corrupted convention and the Girondins were soon expelled from it and many were even imprisoned and beheaded. Paine would have been among those who were immediately imprisoned had it not been for a warning he received on his way to the legislation that day. Having dodged the initial series of imprisonments in the era known as the "Reign of Terror" Paine returned to his home on the French countryside where he spent the next several months drinking and writing the first part of his next extremely controversial work The Age of Reason (Nash) (Andrews 9). Paine claimed he was inspired to write The Age of Reason as a result of the French Revolution getting off track from its "Just and humane principles" (McWilliams 460). In this collection of works Paine claimed that all organized religion, most specifically Christianity, was "human inventions to enslave man and monopolize power and profit." He essentially claimed Christianity was an invention born in hell. He asserted that he was not an atheist as he had been deemed, but a deist. He referred to Deism as "a pure and simple faith which makes religion a private matter between the individual and his creator and which involves no organization, no church buildings, and no expense." He believed in God, just not organized religion or that one man was more suited to interpret the will of the Creator more than another. He believed the proof of the creator was in the laws of science, that science did not disprove his existence, but did just the opposite. With the publication of this work, Paine had sufficiently enraged most of the Americans who once championed him as a hero (Kittlle 18 - 20)(Nash).

Shortly after writing the first part of The Age of Reason Paine was arrested in France and imprisoned in Luxemburg prison where he spent 11 months awaiting his fate at the guillotine. In this time he grew bitter that America, most particularly George Washington, did not demand his immediate release. He wrote several bitter letters to America’s first president, one of them saying "And as to you, sir, treacherous in private friendship (for so you have been to me and in the day of danger) and a hypocrite in public life, the world will be puzzled to decide whether you are an APOSTATE or an IMPOSTOR – whether you have abandoned good principles, or whether you ever had any." He later published these letters and, teaming them up with his anti-organized religion beliefs, he had effectively ended any popularity he had with Americans (Andrews 10).

Eventually the power shifted again in France and James Monroe, the American Ambassador there, was able to secure his release. Less than 8 months later, in July 1795, Paine was once again involved in French politics serving as an advisor to the new group in power, The Directory (Andrews, 9 -10). In this time he also wrote his second part of The Age of Reason where he responded to the backlash he had received for the first part. He searched the bible for evidence of its reliability regarding its historical content and moral standing and claimed it did not have any. He inferred that the stories contained in it were absurd, indecent and cruel and that priests had turned religion into a trade. He further sustained his claim by citing the contradiction of the church selling prayers and pardons to free souls from man’s invention of purgatory (Kittle 118-119).

Paine’s next major literary work was Agrarian Justice where he curbed back his direct bashing of religion and instead made his arguments for conditions that would improve society as a whole. He laid out his own blueprint for a fair and just society with reasonable arguments that made it seem not so much as the idea of a dreamer, but as a reasonable plan for the wellbeing of mankind (Jendrysik 142). He argued for the end of slavery, the outlawing of dueling and a cease to the death penalty calling it all inhumane (Clark 141). In Agrarian Justice he also argued that poverty was unnatural and within the reach of mankind to solve. He said that private property passed from one generation to the next cheated a majority of people born of this earth of their natural inheritance (Jendrysik 151). He went on to say that in the beginning of time (the creation by God) there existed a pool of resources not intended to be controlled by any select group of individuals, referring to the world as the common property of its inhabitants and that poverty was born in individuals controlling the land and limiting the natural resources to the public in general (Lamb 492-493). Because Paine also believed that there was no way to return to a state of nature, where property ownership did not exist, he made the case that in compensation for the masses natural born disposition every individual who reached the age of twenty one should receive Fifteen pounds. In Agrarian Justice he also made the case that an old age pension should exist, where every individual age 50 and older should receive ten pounds a year to survive off of. This could be said to be the initial argument for Social Security, well over 100 years before it existed (Jendrysik 152).

In 1802 Paine returned to America where he was given less than a positive reception. He was now more despised in America due to his verbal attacks on George Washington and his anti-Christian views. As a frustrated man, abandoned and despised by nearly everyone he aspired to help and encourage, Paine died in 1809. His funeral was a dismal scene of just a few close friends and two African Americans who recognized and appreciated one of the few founding fathers who fought to abolish slavery in the new great nation. Having been raised as a Quaker, Paine’s dying wish was to be buried on Quaker grounds. This request was refused (Nash).

Thomas Paine spent a lifetime building a case and presenting a plan for a better world. As he put it, he was a citizen of that world. His affiliations truly lied with what he felt was best for mankind and society as a whole. He was not an American, an Englishman, a Frenchman, a Christian or an Atheist. He was Thomas Paine, a man whose beliefs transcended any particular category or border. He argued for the rights of all men and set out to dissect and destroy any system that implied that any one man is better than any other. He built arguments for the abolition of slavery, better universal education, an old age pension and taxes on property to fight against poverty(Clark 141). Paine envisioned a world democracy where any human born of this earth was provided the rights and opportunities to contribute to our collective existence (Kittle 21). He firmly believed that men always had the capacity to impact and influence the environment they were in. Social progress and equality is an inevitable development in the timeline of mankind, the only variable is the speed of which equality is achieved and tyranny is dispelled (Jendrysik 141). While Thomas Paine may have died an unpopular man, two hunded years later he is celebrated and his ideas are still present in political debates all around the world (Nash).

Encyclopedia of Trivia

Thomas Paine was born on February 9, 1737 in a cottage in Thetford, a town in Norfolk, England.

Statue in Thetford, Norfolk, England, Paine's birthplace

His parents were Joseph and Frances Pain. Joseph was a Quaker staymaker (corset maker) and Frances an Anglican. A sister, Elizabeth, died in infancy.

Thomas grew up around farmers and other uneducated people. He attended Thetford Grammar School (1744󈞝), at a time when there was no compulsory education, leaving school at the age of 13 to work for his father.

Thomas spent his teenage years as an apprentice corset maker.

At 19, Paine became a privateer, serving for a short time during which he fought the French in the Seven Years War.

Paine returned to England in April 1759 and he set up a corset shop in Sandwich, Kent.

In July 1761, Paine returned to Thetford where he worked as a supernumerary officer. In December 1762, he became an excise officer in Grantham, Lincolnshire he was transferred one and a half years later to Alford also in Lincolnshire where his salary was 㿞 a year.

On August 27, 1765, Paine was discharged from his post for claiming to have inspected goods when in fact he had only seen the documentation.

On July 3, 1766, Paine wrote a letter to the board of excise asking to be reinstated, and the next day the board granted his request to be filled upon vacancy. While waiting for an opening, Paine worked as a staymaker in Diss, Norfolk, and later as a teacher of English at an academy in Goodman's Fields, Whitechapel.

Around this time, Paine applied to become an ordained minister of the Church of England, and according to some accounts preached in Moorfields.

On May 15, 1767, Paine was appointed to a position in Grampound, Cornwall. He later was asked to leave to await another vacancy, and spent a short time as a teacher of English in Kensington, London.

Paine was appointed on February 19, 1768 as an excise officer in Lewes in East Sussex. He lived there above the tobacco and snuff shop of Samuel and Ester Ollive and in 1770 he set up a tobacco business with Ester and her daughter Elizabeth following Samuel's death.

Thomas Paine's house in Lewes

In 1772 Paine wrote a pamphlet, The Case of the Officers of Excise, asking parliament for a pay rise and working conditions as the way to end corruption in the service. It was his first political work.

In 1774 Paine was fired from his job with the excise service for being absent from his post without permission, after distributing his pamphlet in London. By then his tobacco business had also failed.

Paine emigrated to the American colonies in 1774 to escape his creditors. He sailed for America carrying letters of introduction from Benjamin Franklin who'd recommended him for the "genius in his eyes."

In America, Paine was appointed war correspondent and co-editor of the Pennsylvania magazine in January 1775. He remained in that position for at least half of its nineteen-month run.

Paine was a soldier and political adviser during the American Revolution. During the Revolution Paine's pamphlets inspiring the Americans in their battles against the British army sold huge amounts. However he refused to accept the profits from his writings and after the revolution he was destitute.
Congress refused his plea for assistance but the states of New York and Pennsylvania granted him money.

On September 9, 1776, the Continental Congress formally declared the name of the new nation to be the “United States” of America. It has been suggested that it was Thomas Paine who had proposed the name United States of America. However, in his popular book, Common Sense, Paine had used "United Colonies," "American States," and "Free and Independent States of America" but he never used the final form.

Paine was rewarded with the post of Secretary of the Committee of Foreign Affairs in 1777 for his part in the American Revolution.

Paine was also an inventor, receiving a patent in Europe in the mid-1790s for the single span iron bridge. It was the first long bridge that could cross a river without a supporting prop in the middle.
He also developed a smokeless candle, and worked with John Fitch on the early development of steam engines.

During the 1790s, Paine became deeply involved in the French Revolution. He wrote Rights of Man (1791), in part a defense of the Revolution against its critics and helped to draft the 1793 French Constitution.

Oil painting by Laurent Dabos, circa 1791

Paine was branded a blasphemer in England for his The Rights of Man and his effigy was burnt in towns across his home country.

During a visit to England, unknown to Thomas Paine, a warrant was out for his arrest for treason because of the controversy over Rights Of Man. While in a publisher's shop, William Blake warned him not to go to his home so he fled to France. Twenty minutes after Paine left the warrant arrived for his arrest.

Paine was an enthusiastic supporter of the French Revolution, and despite being a foreigner was elected to the National Convention. He opposed the execution of Louis XVI and advocated the French monarch be exiled to America instead. His humanitarian stance bought him into conflict with the increasingly out-of-control revolutionary leaders. Paine was imprisoned during the 1793 French "terror" for arguing for the life of Louis XVI.

Paine escaped beheading by chance. A guard walked through the prison placing a chalk mark on the doors of the condemned prisoners. He placed one on Paine's door — but because a doctor was treating Paine at that moment, the cell door was open. When the doctor left, the door was swung closed, so that the chalk mark faced into the cell. Later, when the condemned prisoners were rounded up for execution, Paine was spared because there was no apparent chalk mark on his cell door.

After ten months in prison he was released after the fall of Robespierre.

Thomas Paine's Common Sense pamphlet written in 1775󈞸 advocated independence from Great Britain to people in the Thirteen Colonies. It was published anonymously on January 10, 1776, at the beginning of the American Revolution, and was the first publication to voice a policy of separation.

In Common Sense, Paine argued for America's independence from Britain and for the establishment of a free republic. The publication of the pamphlet encouraged many who were unsure about declaring independence to speak out in favor of declaring independence from Britain.

Common Sense, published in 1776

Common Sense was sold and distributed widely and read aloud at taverns and meeting places. In proportion to the population of the colonies at that time (2.5 million), it had the largest sale and circulation of any book published in American history.

Common Sense was a document so powerful that the Revolution became inevitable. General George Washington recognized the difference, and in his calm way said that "matters never could be the same again.”

Paine published The American Crisis pamphlet series to inspire the Americans in their battles against the British army, during the American Revolution. A series of 16 pamphlets, they began with the famous words "these are the times that try mens' souls."

An image of the first page from the first edition of The American Crisis
The first of the pamphlets were published in the Pennsylvania Journal on December 19, 1776. It was released during a time when the Revolution was still viewed as an unsteady prospect. Its opening sentence, "These are the times that try mens' souls," was adopted as the watchword of the movement to Trenton.

The American Crisis was a great influence on General George Washington. He ordered them to be read to every corporal's guard in the army.

The first pamphlet was read aloud to the Continental Army on December 23, 1776, three days before the Battle of Trenton, in an attempt to bolster morale and resistance among patriots, as well as shame neutrals and loyalists toward the cause.

By 1791 Thomas Paine was living in exile in revolutionary France. He published there The Rights of Man, in which he outlined his political philosophy. It was written in response to the prominent English politician Edmund Burke, who had penned a scathing rebuke of the people’s movement leading to the French Revolution.

Costing just sixpence, The Rights Of Man sold thousands of copies and was especially a huge hit with the lower classes in England, outselling the Bible in its day.

By 1793 Thomas Paine was in prison in France for arguing for the life of King Louis XVI. Convinced he would soon be dead, the incarcerated political writer penned a rationalist treatise, The Age Of Reason, which was an assault on organised religion.

Inspired by Swift and Defoe, The Age Of Reason was written in a populist style from the point of view of a Quaker who did not believe on organised religion. Originally distributed as unbound pamphlets, The Age Of Reason was published in three parts Barlow published the first English edition of in 1794 in London, selling it for a mere three pence. The other two parts were published in 1795 and 1807.

The Age Of Reason was a best-seller in the United States, where it caused a short-lived deistic revival. The young Napoleon Bonaparte slept with a copy of it under his pillow.

Several early copies of The Age of Reason

Shortly before his death in 1790, Benjamin Franklin had seen an early manuscript. He advised Thomas Paine not to publish The Age Of Reason stating "If men are so wicked with religion, what would they be if without it."

During his time in Sandwich and Margate in the late 1750s and early 1760s, Paine was a Methodist Lay Preacher.

Politically aware, Paine first became involved in civic matters in Lewes in the late 1760s, with Samuel Ollive introducing him into the Society of Twelve, a group of town elites who met twice a year to discuss town issues. Paine also participated in the Vestry an influential church group that collected taxes and tithes and distributed them to the poor.

By the time The Rights of Man was published in 1791, Paine was a militant deist and a freethinker. He claimed "My country is the world and my religion is to do good."

In his deistic work, The Age Of Reason, Paine criticized conventional Christianity and argued that the Bible is not the Word of God.

Thomas Paine married Mary Lambert. on September 27, 1759. She was an 'Orphan of Sandwich', meaning she had no money or relatives to provide for her. Her father had been an excise officer.

Paine's corset shop business in Sandwich collapsed soon after their marriage. Mary became pregnant, and after they moved to Margate, the following year, she went into early labor, in which she and their child died.

Paine and Elizabeth weren't getting along and on June 4, 1774 Thomas formally separated from his wife and moved to London. He had with him 㿙 from his separation settlement.

In September 1774, Commissioner of the Excise George Lewis Scott introduced Paine to Benjamin Franklin, who suggested emigration to British colonial America, and gave him a letter of recommendation. Paine left England in October 1774, arriving in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on November 30.

In 1784 Paine was given a farm near New Rochelle, New York for his part in the course of independence. The estate, totaling about 300 acres (1.2 km2), had been confiscated from its owners by the state of New York due to their Tory activities.

Thomas Paine cottage, one of a number of buildings on the farm, was his final home on the south side of what is now Paine Avenue.

Paine had flashing black eyes, an aquiline nose and a ruddy complexion. He was small and wiry.

Portrait by Auguste Millière (1880)

Paine remained in France until 1802 living in Paris with French bookseller and revolutionary Nicholas Bonneville and his wife Marguerite Brazier.

In 1802, Paine left for the United States with Marguerite Brazier and her three sons, on an invitation from Thomas Jefferson. An outcast and in ill health, he wandered from place to place until his death.

Paine died at 59 Grove Street in Greenwich Village, in New York City on June 8, 1809. At the time of his death, most U.S. newspapers reprinted the obituary notice from the New York Citizen, which read in part: "He had lived long, did some good and much harm."

Brazier took care of Paine at the end of his life and buried him after his death on June 8, 1809. Only six mourners attended his funeral.

In his will, Paine left the bulk of his estate to Marguerite, including 100 acres (40.5 ha) of his farm so she could maintain and educate her sons.

In 1814, the fall of Napoleon finally allowed Bonneville to rejoin his wife in the United States where he remained for four years before returning to Paris to open a bookshop.

The agrarian radical William Cobbett secretly exhumed Paine's bones a decade after his squalid death, shipping them in a box to Liverpool, only to lose them in transit. They were last seen in a curio shop in London's Bedford Square in the 1830s.

Making sense of Thomas Paine (1737–1809)

‘These are the times that try men’s souls’, George Washington declared to his troops as they gathered in darkness on the banks of the Delaware River before the crucial American victory at the Battle of Trenton (1776) in the Revolutionary War. Washington was quoting the opening lines from the first of Thomas Paine’s great pamphlet series The American Crisis, published just one week earlier. Paine wrote thirteen pamphlets in the series throughout the eight years of the war between the American colonies and the Kingdom of Great Britain, in which he documented the developments of the struggle, ridiculed the British and, to incalculable effect, entreated Americans to always be aware of what was at stake: ‘What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly. ’Tis dearness only that gives everything its value.’
The influence of Paine’s pamphlets on the successful outcome of the American struggle for independence cannot be overstated. ‘Washington’s sword would have been wielded in vain had it not been for the pen of Paine’, said James Monroe. But it is also true to say that there might not have been a War of Independence without Paine’s influence. Self-determination on issues such as taxation, not independence, was the goal of the Patriots. On 14 February 1776 the publication of Paine’s Common Sense changed the aspiration. In this, without question the most influential pamphlet of the American Revolution, Paine wrote about the design of government he excoriated monarchy and hereditary succession he condemned British rule and espoused American independence.

French Revolution
Paine was in London in July 1789 when the Bastille was stormed. He travelled to Paris in November of that year. In January 1790 he corresponded with Edmund Burke regarding the French Revolution, and the following month Burke gave a speech to parliament denouncing the Revolution. The following November Burke published his Reflections on the Revolution in France. Initially Burke was not opposed to the Revolution, writing in August 1789 about ‘England gazing with astonishment at a French struggle for Liberty and not knowing whether to blame or to applaud!’. But when a mob marched on Versailles that October to compel the king to return to Paris, Burke turned. He considered France a ‘country undone’, where ‘the elements which compose human society seem all to be dissolved, and a world of monsters to be produced in the place of it’. He considered that the revolution had ‘subverted monarchy, but not recover’d freedom’. Burke posited that social stability could only be achieved if an élite and wise group, whose wisdom is hereditary, governed.
In February 1791 Paine published Rights of Man: Being an answer to Mr Burke’s attack on the French Revolution, in which he described Burke’s Reflections as ‘darkness attempting to illuminate light’ and rebutted Burke’s assertions, stating that government was a contrivance of man and that hereditary rights to govern cannot compose a government because wisdom to govern cannot be inherited. The following year Paine published Rights of Man, Part the Second, Combining Principal and Practice, containing discussion on possible formats for a successful republic and proposals for programmes of education, pensions and other reliefs for the poor, and a system of taxation based on income to fund it. In October 1792 the Irish revolutionary Lord Edward Fitzgerald lodged with Paine, who voiced his support for a French-funded insurrection in Ireland. (More editions of Paine’s Rights of Man were published in Ireland than anywhere else in the English-speaking world.)

In his inaugural speech in January 2009 President Barak Obama quoted Paine: ‘Let it be told to the future world that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive, that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet it’. (Getty Images)

In December 1793 Paine was arrested and imprisoned in the former Luxembourg Palace. Shortly before his arrest he began work on The Age of Reason Being an Investigation of True and of Fabulous Theology, published in January 1794, in which he outlined his thoughts on religion. He wrote: ‘I believe in one God, and no more and I hope for happiness beyond this life. I believe in the equality of man, and I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavouring to make our fellow creatures happy.’ In this work, and in The Age of Reason, Part the Second (1795), Paine treated the Bible literally and applied reason and common sense to its content, debunking it with a cool logic. He argued that to be devout within the established religions one must make a sacrifice of the greatest gift from God, the gift of reason.
After James Monroe secured his release in November 1794, Paine remained in Paris until his return to America in 1802. During those years he wrote numerous pamphlets, including Dissertation on First Principals of Government (1795), in which he espoused universal male suffrage, abolished by the new French constitution The Decline and Fall of the English System of Finance (1796), which predicted that war with France would cause the Bank of England to collapse and Agrarian Justice (1797), in which he argued that all land was in the common ownership of humankind but that to better cultivate it property ownership was necessary. He proposed that those privileged enough to own land owed a debt to those who did not and suggested a property tax to assist the un-propertied poor. That same year Paine met Theobald Wolfe Tone and James Napper Tandy and encouraged their plans to surprise the English by landing a French army in Ireland.

Criticisms of Washington
In July 1796 Paine wrote an open letter to President Washington, accusing him of treachery and criticising his performance in the Revolutionary War. On his return to America Paine continued to attack Washington and John Adams. He received a letter from Samuel Adams, who described Age of Reason as a ‘defence of infidelity’, echoing the opinion of many. His attacks on Washington no doubt had a cooling effect on the affections many Americans had held for him. In the years following 1802 Paine contributed articles to various publications. In his final years he moved from lodging to poorer lodging. He died on 8 June 1809, his funeral attended by only a handful of people.
Paine’s works continued to influence thinkers and writers in his time and beyond. His influence is clear in the original Declaration of the United Irishmen, which alludes to the rights of man, common sense and common interests, and government originating from the people. Some suggest that Paine penned some or all of the American Declaration of Independence, and in the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights Paine’s philosophies loom large.
Speaking in 1805, John Adams stated: ‘I know not whether any man in the world has had more influence on its inhabitants or affairs for the last thirty years than Tom Paine’. Today it can be argued that no man has had more influence on the development of mankind’s understanding of individual rights, governance or freedom of expression for the last 200 years than Tom Paine. HI

Peadar Browne is a legal executive in a criminal law firm.

C. Hitchens, Thomas Paine’s Rights of Man: a biography (London, 2006).

H. J. Kaye, Thomas Paine and the promise of America (New York, 2005).

Preparedness Notes for Monday — December 28, 2020

December 28, 1793 is the day that Thomas Paine was arrested in France for treason. The charges against him were never fully detailed, but he was tried in absentia on December 26 and convicted. Best known as the author of Common Sense, he moved to Paris to be part of the French revolution. Initially welcomed, the tide soon turned against him, because he was opposed to the death penalty and the French revolutionaries were sending hundreds to the guillotine.

Today, another product review by the industrious Pat Cascio. There are currently 17 more reviews in the queue, from Pat. It is our great pleasure to employ him as our Field Gear Editor. He’s now in his late 60s, and we’ll keep renewing his contract as long as he willing to continue writing. I believe that we can all benefit from his many years of experience. – JWR


One book I have always enjoyed and actually was able to acquire as a first edition was an 1817 compilation of 10 of his writings. Outside of a few original letters and papers from other founders, this was a prize of note. Sadly, like many of the fine things I have owned, it was sold following my disability. I still retain every one of his works, he was a brilliant mind and a truly good person.

California senator kamala harris

As of December 28th 8:15am, kamala harris did not resign her senate position.

Interesting, indeed… We have been watching this too. Is it simply because she is not sure she’ll be “installed” as the Vice President, or is she preserving some other forms of legal protections?

Which is the better lot, to give it all up, or to have it all taken away?

When Jesus died, he didn’t even have the clothes on his back anymore. Just a loincloth and a crown.

When your time here on earth is done, what do you plan on taking with you?

Now you know what is truly important in life, and what is just a burden in a bag over our shoulder for as long as we breathe.

Here’s an interview well worth hearing (or at least reading the translation). Ukrainian authorities are not amused by what they say are criminal activities involving Biden family members and Burisma. They are further not intimidated by threats of sanctions coming from the United States which should, frankly, want the truth.

Free PDF download of Dr. Alton’s Survival Medicine Handbook.

As you may see, I have a useful depth of knowledge about radio, yet I have not limited myself to only that field. The most important experts on the future battlefield will be radio men, and medics. And these persons will be rare examples. As I am an old crippled up man, I will use my brain instead of my trigger finger.

To maximize our potential we must first break free of the intellectual constructs of modern society. Become autodidacts like our forefathers. My grandfather only had a 6th grade education, yet taught him self and rose to the top of then, the largest corporation in the world. This is when the business of American was business, and the spirit of pioneers still existed. Sadly we have become a nation of specialists, and a society that only recognizes those with issued credentials, and shuns those who think for themselves and learn on their own. We have become ants when we should be multi-skilled human beings.

The coming kinetic part of the war will require us to stretch ourselves and become our own experts. We will not be able to rely on experts including those doctors supported by the wonders of modern medicine. Even medical doctors will have to leave their specialty behind, and become general practitioners, and without the aid of high tech medical testd, and equipment. We must all strive to become self reliant.

At some point modern medicine of any kind will not be available, therefore we who have the most knowledge will become the last resort, the available expert for our friends and family. Just know that you can do it, because you can. Again, without the aid of doctors, I have for decades kept me self out of a doctors office, and the hospital many many times by treating myself using the same manuals as do doctors. I have also successfully treated my pets and livestock. However, I do not recommend avoiding modern medicine. If you have it, please use it. The point is, that we can learn and improve ourselves to the best of our abilities, and rise the occasion saving lives with simple first aid, and basic nursing skills. We can also support the patient with OTC (over the counter) drugs, and fish antibiotics. I may publish a list in the future, but get the books and get your own list in a paper back form with the instructions of how to use them.

This is written specifically for the survivalist in mind, and is full of tips and tricks that most doctors would not dare to risk sharing.

Here is a free PDF download of Dr. Alton’s Survival Medicine Handbook, and buy it on Amazon or directly from Dr. Alton. https://www.pdfdrive.com/the-survival-medicine-handbook-e33669901.html

I have exchanged many emails with him. He and his wife, Nurse Amy, are exceptional persons, and are very willing to help. You may also purchase medical gear and supplies from their store.


Thomas Paine was born on January 29, 1736 (NS February 9, 1737), [Note 1] the son of Joseph Pain, a tenant farmer and stay-maker, [7] and Frances ( née Cocke) Pain, in Thetford, Norfolk, England. Joseph was a Quaker and Frances an Anglican. [8] Despite claims that Thomas changed the spelling of his family name upon his emigration to America in 1774, [1] he was using "Paine" in 1769, while still in Lewes, Sussex. [9]

He attended Thetford Grammar School (1744–1749), at a time when there was no compulsory education. [10] At the age of 13, he was apprenticed to his father. [11] [12] Following his apprenticeship, aged 19, Paine enlisted and briefly served as a privateer, [13] before returning to Britain in 1759. There, he became a master staymaker, establishing a shop in Sandwich, Kent. [14]

On September 27, 1759, Paine married Mary Lambert. His business collapsed soon after. Mary became pregnant and, after they moved to Margate, she went into early labour, in which she and their child died. [15]

In July 1761, Paine returned to Thetford to work as a supernumerary officer. In December 1762, he became an Excise Officer in Grantham, Lincolnshire in August 1764, he was transferred to Alford, also in Lincolnshire, at a salary of £50 per annum. On August 27, 1765, he was dismissed as an Excise Officer for "claiming to have inspected goods he did not inspect". On July 31, 1766, he requested his reinstatement from the Board of Excise, which they granted the next day, upon vacancy. While awaiting that, he worked as a stay-maker. [16]

In 1767, he was appointed to a position in Grampound, Cornwall. Later he asked to leave this post to await a vacancy, and he became a schoolteacher in London. [ citation needed ]

On February 19, 1768, he was appointed to Lewes in Sussex, a town with a tradition of opposition to the monarchy and pro-republican sentiments since the revolutionary decades of the 17th century. [17] Here he lived above the 15th-century Bull House, the tobacco shop of Samuel Ollive and Esther Ollive. [18]

Paine first became involved in civic matters when he was based in Lewes. He appears in the Town Book as a member of the Court Leet, the governing body for the town. He was also a member of the parish vestry, an influential local Anglican church group whose responsibilities for parish business would include collecting taxes and tithes to distribute among the poor. On March 26, 1771, at age 34, Paine married Elizabeth Ollive, the daughter of his recently deceased landlord, whose business as a grocer and tobacconist he then entered into. [19]

From 1772 to 1773, Paine joined excise officers asking Parliament for better pay and working conditions, publishing, in summer of 1772, The Case of the Officers of Excise, a 12-page article, and his first political work, spending the London winter distributing the 4,000 copies printed to the Parliament and others. In spring 1774, he was again dismissed from the excise service for being absent from his post without permission his tobacco shop failed, too. On April 14, to avoid debtors' prison, he sold his household possessions to pay debts. On June 4, 1774, he formally separated from his wife Elizabeth and moved to London, where, in September, mathematician, Fellow of the Royal Society, and Commissioner of the Excise George Lewis Scott introduced him to Benjamin Franklin, [20] who suggested emigration to British colonial America, and gave him a letter of recommendation. In October, Paine emigrated to the American colonies, arriving in Philadelphia on November 30, 1774. [21]

In Pennsylvania Magazine Edit

Paine barely survived the transatlantic voyage. The ship's water supplies were bad and typhoid fever killed five passengers. On arriving at Philadelphia, he was too sick to disembark. Benjamin Franklin's physician, there to welcome Paine to America, had him carried off ship Paine took six weeks to recover. He became a citizen of Pennsylvania "by taking the oath of allegiance at a very early period". [22] In March 1775, he became editor of the Pennsylvania Magazine, a position he conducted with considerable ability. [23]

Before Paine's arrival in America, sixteen magazines had been founded in the colonies and ultimately failed, each featuring substantial content and reprints from England. In late 1774, Philadelphia printer Robert Aitken announced his plan to create what he called an "American Magazine" with content derived from the colonies. [23] Paine contributed two pieces to the magazine's inaugural issue dated January 1775, and Aitken hired Paine as the Magazine's editor one month later. Under Paine's leadership, the magazine's readership rapidly expanded, achieving a greater circulation in the colonies than any American magazine up until that point. [23] While Aiken had conceived of the magazine as nonpolitical, Paine brought a strong political perspective to its content, writing in its first issue that "every heart and hand seem to be engaged in the interesting struggle for American Liberty." [23]

Paine wrote in the Pennsylvania Magazine that such a publication should become a "nursery of genius" for a nation that had "now outgrown the state of infancy," exercising and educating American minds, and shaping American morality. [23] On March 8, 1775, the Pennsylvania Magazine published an unsigned abolitionist essay titled African Slavery in America. [24] The essay is often attributed to Paine on the basis of a letter by Benjamin Rush, recalling Paine's claim of authorship to the essay. [24] The essay attacked slavery as an "execrable commerce" and "outrage against Humanity and Justice." [24]

Consciously appealing to a broader and more working class audience, Paine also used the magazine to discuss worker rights to production. This shift in the conceptualization of politics has been described as a part of "the 'modernization' of political consciousness," and the mobilization of ever greater sections of society into political life. [23] [25]

Common Sense (1776) Edit

Paine has a claim to the title The Father of the American Revolution, [26] [27] which rests on his pamphlets, especially Common Sense, which crystallized sentiment for independence in 1776. It was published in Philadelphia on January 10, 1776, and signed anonymously "by an Englishman". It became an immediate success, quickly spreading 100,000 copies in three months to the two million residents of the 13 colonies. During the course of the American Revolution, a total of about 500,000 copies were sold, including unauthorized editions. [4] [28] Paine's original title for the pamphlet was Plain Truth, but Paine's friend, pro-independence advocate Benjamin Rush, suggested Common Sense instead. [29]

The pamphlet came into circulation in January 1776, after the Revolution had started. It was passed around and often read aloud in taverns, contributing significantly to spreading the idea of republicanism, bolstering enthusiasm for separation from Britain, and encouraging recruitment for the Continental Army. Paine provided a new and convincing argument for independence by advocating a complete break with history. Common Sense is oriented to the future in a way that compels the reader to make an immediate choice. It offers a solution for Americans disgusted with and alarmed at the threat of tyranny. [30]

Paine's attack on monarchy in Common Sense is essentially an attack on George III. Whereas colonial resentments were originally directed primarily against the king's ministers and Parliament, Paine laid the responsibility firmly at the king's door. Common Sense was the most widely read pamphlet of the American Revolution. It was a clarion call for unity against the corrupt British court, so as to realize America's providential role in providing an asylum for liberty. Written in a direct and lively style, it denounced the decaying despotisms of Europe and pilloried hereditary monarchy as an absurdity. At a time when many still hoped for reconciliation with Britain, Common Sense demonstrated to many the inevitability of separation. [31]

Paine was not on the whole expressing original ideas in Common Sense, but rather employing rhetoric as a means to arouse resentment of the Crown. To achieve these ends, he pioneered a style of political writing suited to the democratic society he envisioned, with Common Sense serving as a primary example. Part of Paine's work was to render complex ideas intelligible to average readers of the day, with clear, concise writing unlike the formal, learned style favored by many of Paine's contemporaries. [32] Scholars have put forward various explanations to account for its success, including the historic moment, Paine's easy-to-understand style, his democratic ethos, and his use of psychology and ideology. [33]

Common Sense was immensely popular in disseminating to a very wide audience ideas that were already in common use among the elite who comprised Congress and the leadership cadre of the emerging nation, who rarely cited Paine's arguments in their public calls for independence. [34] The pamphlet probably had little direct influence on the Continental Congress' decision to issue a Declaration of Independence, since that body was more concerned with how declaring independence would affect the war effort. [35] One distinctive idea in Common Sense is Paine's beliefs regarding the peaceful nature of republics his views were an early and strong conception of what scholars would come to call the democratic peace theory. [36]

Loyalists vigorously attacked Common Sense one attack, titled Plain Truth (1776), by Marylander James Chalmers, said Paine was a political quack [37] and warned that without monarchy, the government would "degenerate into democracy". [38] Even some American revolutionaries objected to Common Sense late in life John Adams called it a "crapulous mass". Adams disagreed with the type of radical democracy promoted by Paine (that men who did not own property should still be allowed to vote and hold public office) and published Thoughts on Government in 1776 to advocate a more conservative approach to republicanism. [39]

Sophia Rosenfeld argues that Paine was highly innovative in his use of the commonplace notion of "common sense". He synthesized various philosophical and political uses of the term in a way that permanently impacted American political thought. He used two ideas from Scottish Common Sense Realism: that ordinary people can indeed make sound judgments on major political issues, and that there exists a body of popular wisdom that is readily apparent to anyone. Paine also used a notion of "common sense" favored by philosophes in the Continental Enlightenment. They held that common sense could refute the claims of traditional institutions. Thus, Paine used "common sense" as a weapon to de-legitimize the monarchy and overturn prevailing conventional wisdom. Rosenfeld concludes that the phenomenal appeal of his pamphlet resulted from his synthesis of popular and elite elements in the independence movement. [40]

According to historian Robert Middlekauff, Common Sense became immensely popular mainly because Paine appealed to widespread convictions. Monarchy, he said, was preposterous and it had a heathenish origin. It was an institution of the devil. Paine pointed to the Old Testament, where almost all kings had seduced the Israelites to worship idols instead of God. Paine also denounced aristocracy, which together with monarchy were "two ancient tyrannies." They violated the laws of nature, human reason, and the "universal order of things," which began with God. That was, Middlekauff says, exactly what most Americans wanted to hear. He calls the Revolutionary generation "the children of the twice-born". [41] because in their childhood they had experienced the Great Awakening, which, for the first time, had tied Americans together, transcending denominational and ethnic boundaries and giving them a sense of patriotism. [42] [43]

Possible involvement in drafting the United States Declaration of Independence Edit

While there is no historical record of Paine's involvement in drafting the Declaration of Independence, some scholars of Early American History have suspected Thomas Paine's involvement over the past two centuries. As noted by the Thomas Paine National Historical Association, multiple authors have hypothesized and written on the subject, including Moody (1872), Van der Weyde (1911), Lewis (1947), and more recently, Smith & Rickards (2007 [44]

In 2018, the Thomas Paine National Historical Association introduced an early draft of the Declaration that contained evidence of Paine's involvement based on an inscription of "T.P." on the back of the document. During the early deliberations of the Committee of Five members chosen by Congress to draft the Declaration of Independence, John Adams made a hastily written manuscript copy of the original draft of the Declaration of Independence on June 24, 1776, known as the Sherman Copy. Adams made this copy shortly before preparing another neater, fair copy that is held in the Adams Family Papers collection at the Massachusetts Historical Society. The Sherman copy of The Declaration of Independence is one of several working drafts of the Declaration, made for Roger Sherman's review and approval before the Committee of Five submitted a finalized draft to Congress. The Sherman Copy of the Declaration of Independence contains an inscription on the back of the document that states: "A beginning perhaps-Original with Jefferson-Copied from Original with T.P.'s permission." According to the Thomas Paine National Historical Association, the individual referenced as "T.P." in the inscription appears to be Thomas Paine. [44]

The degree to which Paine was involved in formulating the text of the Declaration is unclear, as the original draft referenced in the Sherman Copy inscription is presumed lost or destroyed. However, John Adams' request for permission of "T.P." to copy the original draft may suggest that Paine had a role either assisting Jefferson with organizing ideas within the Declaration, or contributing to the text of the original draft itself.

The American Crisis (1776) Edit

In late 1776, Paine published The American Crisis pamphlet series to inspire the Americans in their battles against the British army. He juxtaposed the conflict between the good American devoted to civic virtue and the selfish provincial man. [45] To inspire his soldiers, General George Washington had The American Crisis, first Crisis pamphlet, read aloud to them. [46] It begins:

These are the times that try men's souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like Hell, is not easily conquered yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.

Foreign affairs Edit

In 1777, Paine became secretary of the Congressional Committee on Foreign Affairs. The following year, he alluded to secret negotiation underway with France in his pamphlets. His enemies denounced his indiscretions. There was scandal together with Paine's conflict with Robert Morris and Silas Deane it led to Paine's expulsion from the Committee in 1779. [47]

However, in 1781, he accompanied John Laurens on his mission to France. Eventually, after much pleading from Paine, New York State recognized his political services by presenting him with an estate at New Rochelle, New York and Paine received money from Pennsylvania and from Congress at Washington's suggestion. During the Revolutionary War, Paine served as an aide-de-camp to the important general, Nathanael Greene. [48]

Silas Deane Affair Edit

In what may have been an error, and perhaps even contributed to his resignation as the secretary to the Committee of Foreign Affairs, Paine was openly critical of Silas Deane, an American diplomat who had been appointed in March 1776 by the Congress to travel to France in secret. Deane's goal was to influence the French government to finance the colonists in their fight for independence. Paine largely saw Deane as a war profiteer who had little respect for principle, having been under the employ of Robert Morris, one of the primary financiers of the American Revolution and working with Pierre Beaumarchais, a French royal agent sent to the colonies by King Louis to investigate the Anglo-American conflict. Paine uncovered the financial connection between Morris, who was Superintendent for Finance of the Continental Congress, and Deane. [49] Paine labeled Deane as unpatriotic, and demanded that there be a public investigation into Morris' financing of the Revolution, as he had contracted with his own company for around $500,000. [ citation needed ]

Wealthy men, such as Robert Morris, John Jay and powerful merchant bankers, were leaders of the Continental Congress and defended holding public positions while at the same time profiting off their own personal financial dealings with governments. [49] Amongst Paine's criticisms, he had written in the Pennsylvania Packet that France had " prefaced [their] alliance by an early and generous friendship," referring to aid that had been provided to American colonies prior to the recognition of the Franco-American treaties. This was alleged to be effectively an embarrassment to France, which potentially could have jeopardized the alliance. John Jay, the President of the Congress, who had been a fervent supporter of Deane, immediately spoke out against Paine's comments. The controversy eventually became public, and Paine was then denounced as unpatriotic for criticizing an American revolutionary. He was even physically assaulted twice in the street by Deane supporters. This much-added stress took a large toll on Paine, who was generally of a sensitive character and he resigned as secretary to the Committee of Foreign Affairs in 1779. [50] Paine left the Committee without even having enough money to buy food for himself. [51]

Much later, when Paine returned from his mission to France, Deane's corruption had become more widely acknowledged. Many, including Robert Morris, apologized to Paine and Paine's reputation in Philadelphia was restored. [52]

"Public Good" Edit

In 1780, Paine published a pamphlet entitled "Public Good," in which he made the case that territories west of the 13 colonies that had been part of the British Empire belonged after the Declaration of Independence to the American government, and did not belong to any of the 13 states or to any individual speculators. A royal charter of 1609 had granted to the Virginia Company land stretching to the Pacific Ocean. A small group of wealthy Virginia land speculators, including the Washington, Lee, and Randolph families, had taken advantage of this royal charter to survey and to claim title to huge swaths of land, including much land west of the 13 colonies. In "Public Good," Paine argued that these lands belonged to the American government as represented by the Continental Congress. This angered many of Paine's wealthy Virginia friends, including Richard Henry Lee of the powerful Lee family, who had been Paine's closest ally in Congress, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, all of whom had claimed to huge wild tracts that Paine was advocating should be government owned. The view that Paine had advocated eventually prevailed when the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 was passed.

The animosity Paine felt as a result of the publication of "Public Good" fueled his decision to embark with Lieutenant Colonel John Laurens on a mission to travel to Paris to obtain funding for the American war effort. [53]

Funding the Revolution Edit

Paine accompanied Col. John Laurens to France and is credited with initiating the mission. [54] It landed in France in March 1781 and returned to America in August with 2.5 million livres in silver, as part of a "present" of 6 million and a loan of 10 million. The meetings with the French king were most likely conducted in the company and under the influence of Benjamin Franklin. Upon returning to the United States with this highly welcomed cargo, Thomas Paine and probably Col. Laurens, "positively objected" that General Washington should propose that Congress remunerate him for his services, for fear of setting "a bad precedent and an improper mode". Paine made influential acquaintances in Paris and helped organize the Bank of North America to raise money to supply the army. [55] In 1785, he was given $3,000 by the U.S. Congress in recognition of his service to the nation. [56]

Henry Laurens (father of Col. John Laurens) had been the ambassador to the Netherlands, but he was captured by the British on his return trip there. When he was later exchanged for the prisoner Lord Cornwallis in late 1781, Paine proceeded to the Netherlands to continue the loan negotiations. There remains some question as to the relationship of Henry Laurens and Thomas Paine to Robert Morris as the Superintendent of Finance and his business associate Thomas Willing who became the first president of the Bank of North America in January 1782. They had accused Morris of profiteering in 1779 and Willing had voted against the Declaration of Independence. Although Morris did much to restore his reputation in 1780 and 1781, the credit for obtaining these critical loans to "organize" the Bank of North America for approval by Congress in December 1781 should go to Henry or John Laurens and Thomas Paine more than to Robert Morris. [57]

Paine bought his only house in 1783 on the corner of Farnsworth Avenue and Church Streets in Bordentown City, New Jersey and he lived in it periodically until his death in 1809. This is the only place in the world where Paine purchased real estate. [58] In 1785, Paine was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society. [59]

In 1787, a bridge of Paine's design was built across the Schuylkill River at Philadelphia. At this time his work on single-arch iron bridges led him back to Paris, France. [60] Because Paine had few friends when arriving in France aside from Lafayette and Jefferson, he continued to correspond heavily with Benjamin Franklin, a long time friend and mentor. Franklin provided letters of introduction for Paine to use to gain associates and contacts in France. [61]

Later that year, Paine returned to London from Paris. He then released a pamphlet on August 20 called Prospects on the Rubicon: or, an investigation into the Causes and Consequences of the Politics to be Agitated at the Meeting of Parliament. Tensions between England and France were increasing, and this pamphlet urged the British Ministry to reconsider the consequences of war with France. Paine sought to turn the public opinion against the war to create better relations between the countries, avoid the taxes of war upon the citizens, and not engage in a war he believed would ruin both nations. [62]

Back in London by 1787, Paine would become engrossed in the French Revolution that began two years later, and decided to travel to France in 1790. Meanwhile, conservative intellectual Edmund Burke launched a counterrevolutionary blast against the French Revolution, entitled Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790), which strongly appealed to the landed class, and sold 30,000 copies. Paine set out to refute it in his Rights of Man (1791). He wrote it not as a quick pamphlet, but as a long, abstract political tract of 90,000 words which tore apart monarchies and traditional social institutions. On January 31, 1791, he gave the manuscript to publisher Joseph Johnson. A visit by government agents dissuaded Johnson, so Paine gave the book to publisher J. S. Jordan, then went to Paris, per William Blake's advice. He charged three good friends, William Godwin, Thomas Brand Hollis, and Thomas Holcroft, with handling publication details. The book appeared on March 13, 1791, and sold nearly a million copies. It was "eagerly read by reformers, Protestant dissenters, democrats, London craftsmen, and the skilled factory-hands of the new industrial north". [63]

Undeterred by the government campaign to discredit him, Paine issued his Rights of Man, Part the Second, Combining Principle and Practice in February 1792. It detailed a representative government with enumerated social programs to remedy the numbing poverty of commoners through progressive tax measures. Radically reduced in price to ensure unprecedented circulation, it was sensational in its impact and gave birth to reform societies. An indictment for seditious libel followed, for both publisher and author, while government agents followed Paine and instigated mobs, hate meetings, and burnings in effigy. A fierce pamphlet war also resulted, in which Paine was defended and assailed in dozens of works. [64] The authorities aimed, with ultimate success, to chase Paine out of Great Britain. He was then tried in absentia and found guilty, although never executed. The French translation of Rights of Man, Part II was published in April 1792. The translator, François Lanthenas, eliminated the dedication to Lafayette, as he believed Paine thought too highly of Lafayette, who was seen as a royalist sympathizer at the time. [65]

In summer of 1792, he answered the sedition and libel charges thus: "If, to expose the fraud and imposition of monarchy . to promote universal peace, civilization, and commerce, and to break the chains of political superstition, and raise degraded man to his proper rank if these things be libellous . let the name of libeller be engraved on my tomb." [66]

Paine was an enthusiastic supporter of the French Revolution, and was granted honorary French citizenship alongside prominent contemporaries such as Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and others. Paine's honorary citizenship was in recognition of the publishing of his Rights of Man, Part II and the sensation it created within France. [67] Despite his inability to speak French, he was elected to the National Convention, representing the district of Pas-de-Calais. [68]

Several weeks after his election to the National Convention, Paine was selected as one of nine deputies to be part of the Convention's Constitutional Committee, who were charged to draft a suitable constitution for the French Republic. [69] He subsequentially participated in the Constitutional Committee in drafting the Girondin constitutional project. He voted for the French Republic, but argued against the execution of Louis XVI, saying the monarch should instead be exiled to the United States: firstly, because of the way royalist France had come to the aid of the American Revolution and secondly, because of a moral objection to capital punishment in general and to revenge killings in particular. [70] However, Paine's speech in defense of Louis XVI was interrupted by Jean-Paul Marat, who claimed that as a Quaker, Paine's religious beliefs ran counter to inflicting capital punishment and thus he should be ineligible to vote. Marat interrupted a second time, stating that the translator was deceiving the convention by distorting the meanings of Paine's words, prompting Paine to provide a copy of the speech as proof that he was being correctly translated. [71]

Regarded as an ally of the Girondins, he was seen with increasing disfavor by the Montagnards, who were now in power and in particular by Maximilien Robespierre. A decree was passed at the end of 1793 excluding foreigners from their places in the Convention (Anacharsis Cloots was also deprived of his place). Paine was arrested and imprisoned in December 1793. [72]

Paine wrote the second part of Rights of Man on a desk in Thomas 'Clio' Rickman's house, with whom he was staying in 1792 before he fled to France. This desk is currently on display in the People's History Museum in Manchester. [73]

Paine was arrested in France on December 28, 1793. Joel Barlow was unsuccessful in securing Paine's release by circulating a petition among American residents in Paris. [74] Sixteen American citizens were allowed to plead for Paine's release to the Convention, yet President Marc-Guillaume Alexis Vadier of the Committee of General Security refused to acknowledge Paine's American citizenship, stating he was an Englishman and a citizen of a country at war with France. [75]

Paine himself protested and claimed that he was a citizen of the U.S., which was an ally of Revolutionary France, rather than of Great Britain, which was by that time at war with France. However, Gouverneur Morris, the American minister to France, did not press his claim, and Paine later wrote that Morris had connived at his imprisonment. Paine narrowly escaped execution. A chalk mark was supposed to be left by the gaoler on the door of a cell to denote that the prisoner inside was due to be removed for execution. In Paine's case, the mark had accidentally been made on the inside of his door rather than the outside this was due to the fact that the door of Paine's cell had been left open whilst the gaoler was making his rounds that day, since Paine had been receiving official visitors. But for this quirk of fate, Paine would have been executed the following morning. He kept his head and survived the few vital days needed to be spared by the fall of Robespierre on 9 Thermidor (July 27, 1794). [76]

Paine was released in November 1794 largely because of the work of the new American Minister to France, James Monroe, [77] who successfully argued the case for Paine's American citizenship. [78] In July 1795, he was re-admitted into the Convention, as were other surviving Girondins. Paine was one of only three députés to oppose the adoption of the new 1795 constitution because it eliminated universal suffrage, which had been proclaimed by the Montagnard Constitution of 1793. [79]

In 1796, a bridge he designed was erected over the mouth of the Wear River at Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, England. [80] This bridge, the Sunderland arch, was after the same design as his Schuylkill River Bridge in Philadelphia and it became the prototype for many subsequent voussoir arches made in iron and steel. [81] [82]

In addition to receiving a British patent for the single-span iron bridge, Paine developed a smokeless candle [83] and worked with inventor John Fitch in developing steam engines.

In 1797, Paine lived in Paris with Nicholas Bonneville and his wife. As well as Bonneville's other controversial guests, Paine aroused the suspicions of authorities. Bonneville hid the Royalist Antoine Joseph Barruel-Beauvert at his home. Beauvert had been outlawed following the coup of 18 Fructidor on September 4, 1797. Paine believed that the United States under President John Adams had betrayed revolutionary France. [84] Bonneville was then briefly jailed and his presses were confiscated, which meant financial ruin. [ citation needed ]

In 1800, still under police surveillance, Bonneville took refuge with his father in Evreux. Paine stayed on with him, helping Bonneville with the burden of translating the "Covenant Sea". The same year, Paine purportedly had a meeting with Napoleon. Napoleon claimed he slept with a copy of Rights of Man under his pillow and went so far as to say to Paine that "a statue of gold should be erected to you in every city in the universe". [85] Paine discussed with Napoleon how best to invade England. In December 1797, he wrote two essays, one of which was pointedly named Observations on the Construction and Operation of Navies with a Plan for an Invasion of England and the Final Overthrow of the English Government, [86] in which he promoted the idea to finance 1,000 gunboats to carry a French invading army across the English Channel. In 1804, Paine returned to the subject, writing To the People of England on the Invasion of England advocating the idea. [84] However, upon noting Napoleon's progress towards dictatorship, he condemned him as "the completest charlatan that ever existed". [87] Paine remained in France until 1802, returning to the United States only at President Jefferson's invitation. [88]

Criticism of George Washington Edit

Upset that U.S. President George Washington, a friend since the Revolutionary War, did nothing during Paine's imprisonment in France, Paine believed Washington had betrayed him and conspired with Robespierre. While staying with Monroe, Paine planned to send Washington a letter of grievance on the president's birthday. Monroe stopped the letter from being sent, and after Paine's criticism of the Jay Treaty, which was supported by Washington, Monroe suggested that Paine live elsewhere. [89]

Paine then sent a stinging letter to George Washington, in which he described him as an incompetent commander and a vain and ungrateful person. Having received no response, Paine contacted his longtime publisher Benjamin Bache, the Jeffersonian democrat, to publish his Letter to George Washington of 1796 in which he derided Washington's reputation by describing him as a treacherous man who was unworthy of his fame as a military and political hero. Paine wrote that "the world will be puzzled to decide whether you are an apostate or an impostor whether you have abandoned good principles or whether you ever had any". [90] He declared that without France's aid Washington could not have succeeded in the American Revolution and had "but little share in the glory of the final event". He also commented on Washington's character, saying that Washington had no sympathetic feelings and was a hypocrite. [91]

In 1802 or 1803, Paine left France for the United States, also paying the passage for Bonneville's wife Marguerite Brazier and the couple's three sons, Benjamin, Louis and Thomas Bonneville, to whom Paine was godfather. Paine returned to the United States in the early stages of the Second Great Awakening and a time of great political partisanship. The Age of Reason gave ample excuse for the religiously devout to dislike him, while the Federalists attacked him for his ideas of government stated in Common Sense, for his association with the French Revolution, and for his friendship with President Jefferson. Also still fresh in the minds of the public was his Letter to Washington, published six years before his return. This was compounded when his right to vote was denied in New Rochelle on the grounds that Gouverneur Morris did not recognize him as an American and Washington had not aided him. [92]

Brazier took care of Paine at the end of his life and buried him after his death. In his will, Paine left the bulk of his estate to Marguerite, including 100 acres (40.5 ha) of his farm so she could maintain and educate Benjamin and his brother Thomas. In 1814, the fall of Napoleon finally allowed Bonneville to rejoin his wife in the United States where he remained for four years before returning to Paris to open a bookshop. [ citation needed ]

On the morning of June 8, 1809, Paine died, aged 72, at 59 Grove Street in Greenwich Village, New York City. [93] Although the original building is no longer there, the present building has a plaque noting that Paine died at this location. [94]

After his death, Paine's body was brought to New Rochelle, but the Quakers would not allow it to be buried in their graveyard as per his last will, so his remains were buried under a walnut tree on his farm. In 1819, English agrarian radical journalist William Cobbett, who in 1793 had published a hostile continuation [95] of Francis Oldys (George Chalmer)'s The Life of Thomas Paine, [96] dug up his bones and transported them back to England with the intention to give Paine a heroic reburial on his native soil, but this never came to pass. The bones were still among Cobbett's effects when he died over fifteen years later, but were later lost. There is no confirmed story about what happened to them after that, although various people have claimed throughout the years to own parts of Paine's remains, such as his skull and right hand. [97] [98] [99]

At the time of his death, most American newspapers reprinted the obituary notice from the New York Evening Post that was in turn quoting from The American Citizen, [100] which read in part: "He had lived long, did some good, and much harm". Only six mourners came to his funeral, two of whom were black, most likely freedmen. Many years later the writer and orator Robert G. Ingersoll wrote:

Thomas Paine had passed the legendary limit of life. One by one most of his old friends and acquaintances had deserted him. Maligned on every side, execrated, shunned and abhorred – his virtues denounced as vices – his services forgotten – his character blackened, he preserved the poise and balance of his soul. He was a victim of the people, but his convictions remained unshaken. He was still a soldier in the army of freedom, and still tried to enlighten and civilize those who were impatiently waiting for his death. Even those who loved their enemies hated him, their friend – the friend of the whole world – with all their hearts. On the 8th of June 1809, death came – Death, almost his only friend. At his funeral no pomp, no pageantry, no civic procession, no military display. In a carriage, a woman and her son who had lived on the bounty of the dead – on horseback, a Quaker, the humanity of whose heart dominated the creed of his head – and, following on foot, two negroes filled with gratitude – constituted the funeral cortege of Thomas Paine. [101]

Biographer Eric Foner identifies a utopian thread in Paine's thought, writing: "Through this new language he communicated a new vision—a utopian image of an egalitarian, republican society". [102]

Paine's utopianism combined civic republicanism, belief in the inevitability of scientific and social progress and commitment to free markets and liberty generally. The multiple sources of Paine's political theory all pointed to a society based on the common good and individualism. Paine expressed a redemptive futurism or political messianism. [103] Writing that his generation "would appear to the future as the Adam of a new world", Paine exemplified British utopianism. [104]

Later, his encounters with the Indigenous peoples of the Americas made a deep impression. The ability of the Iroquois to live in harmony with nature while achieving a democratic decision-making process helped him refine his thinking on how to organize society. [105]

Slavery Edit

On March 8, 1775, one month after Paine became the editor of The Pennsylvania Magazine, the magazine published an anonymous article titled "African Slavery in America," the first prominent piece in the colonies proposing the emancipation of African-American slaves and the abolition of slavery. [106]

Paine is often credited with writing the piece, [106] on the basis of later testimony by Benjamin Rush, cosigner of the Declaration of Independence. [24] Citing a lack of further evidence of Paine's authorship, however, scholars Foner and Alfred Owen Aldridge no longer consider it to be one of his works. By contrast, journalist John Nichols writes that Paine's "fervent objections to slavery" led to his exclusion from power during the early years of the Republic. [107]

State funded social programs Edit

In his Rights of Man, Part Second, Paine advocated a comprehensive program of state support for the population to ensure the welfare of society, including state subsidy for poor people, state-financed universal public education, and state-sponsored prenatal care and postnatal care, including state subsidies to families at childbirth. Recognizing that a person's "labor ought to be over" before old age, Paine also called for a state pension to all workers starting at age 50, which would be doubled at age 60. [108]

Agrarian Justice Edit

His last pamphlet, Agrarian Justice, published in the winter of 1795, opposed agrarian law and agrarian monopoly and further developed his ideas in the Rights of Man about how land ownership separated the majority of people from their rightful, natural inheritance and means of independent survival. The U.S. Social Security Administration recognizes Agrarian Justice as the first American proposal for an old-age pension and basic income or citizen's dividend. Per Agrarian Justice:

In advocating the case of the persons thus dispossessed, it is a right, and not a charity . [Government must] create a national fund, out of which there shall be paid to every person, when arrived at the age of twenty-one years, the sum of fifteen pounds sterling, as a compensation in part, for the loss of his or her natural inheritance, by the introduction of the system of landed property. And also, the sum of ten pounds per annum, during life, to every person now living, of the age of fifty years, and to all others as they shall arrive at that age.

In 2011, £10 and £15 would be worth about £800 and £1,200 ($1,200 and $2,000) when adjusted for inflation. [109]

Lamb argues that Paine's analysis of property rights marks a distinct contribution to political theory. His theory of property defends a libertarian concern with private ownership that shows an egalitarian commitment. Paine's new justification of property sets him apart from previous theorists such as Hugo Grotius, Samuel von Pufendorf and John Locke. Lamb says it demonstrates Paine's commitment to foundational liberal values of individual freedom and moral equality. [110] In response to Paine's "Agrarian Justice", Thomas Spence wrote "The Rights of Infants" wherein Spence argues that Paine's plan was not beneficial to impoverished people because landlords would just keep raising land prices, further enriching themselves rather than giving the commonwealth an equal chance. [111]

Before his arrest and imprisonment in France, knowing that he would probably be arrested and executed, following in the tradition of early eighteenth-century British deism Paine wrote the first part of The Age of Reason, an assault on organized "revealed" religion combining a compilation of the many inconsistencies he found in the Bible. [ citation needed ] Paine's religious views as expressed in "The Age of Reason" caused quite a stir in religious society, effectively splitting the religious groups into two major factions: those who wanted church disestablishment, and the Christians who wanted Christianity to continue having a strong social influence. [112]

About his own religious beliefs, Paine wrote in The Age of Reason:

I believe in one God, and no more and I hope for happiness beyond this life.

I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church. All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.

Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and tortuous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we call it the word of a demon than the word of God. It is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind and, for my part, I sincerely detest it, as I detest everything that is cruel. [113]

Though there is no evidence Paine himself was a Freemason, [114] upon his return to America from France he penned "An Essay on the Origin of Free-Masonry" (1803–1805) about Freemasonry being derived from the religion of the ancient Druids. [114] Marguerite de Bonneville published the essay in 1810 after Paine's death, but she chose to omit certain passages from it that were critical of Christianity, most of which were restored in an 1818 printing. [114] In the essay, Paine stated that "the christian religion is a parody on the worship of the Sun, in which they put a man whom they call Christ, in the place of the Sun, and pay him the same adoration which was originally paid to the Sun." [114] Paine also had a negative attitude toward Judaism. [115] While never describing himself as a deist, he called deism "the only true religion":

The opinions I have advanced . are the effect of the most clear and long-established conviction that the Bible and the Testament are impositions upon the world, that the fall of man, the account of Jesus Christ being the Son of God, and of his dying to appease the wrath of God, and of salvation, by that strange means, are all fabulous inventions, dishonorable to the wisdom and power of the Almighty that the only true religion is Deism, by which I then meant, and mean now, the belief of one God, and an imitation of his moral character, or the practice of what are called moral virtues – and that it was upon this only (so far as religion is concerned) that I rested all my hopes of happiness hereafter. So say I now – and so help me God. [57]

In a fundamental sense, we are today all Paine's children. It was not the British defeat at Yorktown, but Paine and the new American conception of political society he did so much to popularize in Europe that turned the world upside down. [116]

Harvey J. Kaye wrote that through Paine, through his pamphlets and catchphrases such as "The sun never shined on a cause of greater worth," "We have it in our power to begin the world over again," and "These are the times that try men's souls" did more than move Americans to declare their independence:

[H]e also imbued the nation they were founding with democratic impulse and aspiration and exceptional – indeed, world-historic – purpose and promise. For 230 years Americans have drawn ideas, inspiration, and encouragement from Paine and his work. [117]

John Stevenson argues that in the early 1790s, numerous radical political societies were formed throughout England and Wales in which Paine's writings provided "a boost to the self-confidence of those seeking to participate in politics for the first time." [118] In its immediate effects, Gary Kates argues, "Paine's vision unified Philadelphia merchants, British artisans, French peasants, Dutch reformers, and radical intellectuals from Boston to Berlin in one great movement." [119]

His writings in the long term inspired philosophic and working-class radicals in Britain and United States. Liberals, libertarians, left-libertarians, feminists, democratic socialists, social democrats, anarchists, free thinkers and progressives often claim him as an intellectual ancestor. Paine's critique of institutionalized religion and advocacy of rational thinking influenced many British freethinkers in the 19th and 20th centuries, such as William Cobbett, George Holyoake, Charles Bradlaugh, Christopher Hitchens and Bertrand Russell. [120]

The quote "Lead, follow, or get out of the way" is widely but incorrectly attributed to Paine. It can be found nowhere in his published works. [121]

Abraham Lincoln Edit

In 1835, when he was 26 years old, Abraham Lincoln wrote a defense of Paine's deism. [122] A political associate, Samuel Hill, burned the manuscript to save Lincoln's political career. [123] Historian Roy Basler, the editor of Lincoln's papers, said Paine had a strong influence on Lincoln's style:

No other writer of the eighteenth century, with the exception of Jefferson, parallels more closely the temper or gist of Lincoln's later thought. In style, Paine above all others affords the variety of eloquence which, chastened and adapted to Lincoln's own mood, is revealed in Lincoln's formal writings. [124]

Thomas Edison Edit

I have always regarded Paine as one of the greatest of all Americans. Never have we had a sounder intelligence in this republic. It was my good fortune to encounter Thomas Paine's works in my boyhood. it was, indeed, a revelation to me to read that great thinker's views on political and theological subjects. Paine educated me, then, about many matters of which I had never before thought. I remember, very vividly, the flash of enlightenment that shone from Paine's writings, and I recall thinking, at that time, 'What a pity these works are not today the schoolbooks for all children!' My interest in Paine was not satisfied by my first reading of his works. I went back to them time and again, just as I have done since my boyhood days. [125]

South America Edit

In 1811, Venezuelan translator Manuel Garcia de Sena published a book in Philadelphia that consisted mostly of Spanish translations of several of Paine's most important works. [126] The book also included translations of the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the U.S. Constitution and the constitutions of five U.S. states. [126]

It subsequently circulated widely in South America and through it Uruguayan national hero José Gervasio Artigas became familiar with and embraced Paine's ideas. In turn, many of Artigas's writings drew directly from Paine's, including the Instructions of 1813, which Uruguayans consider to be one of their country's most important constitutional documents, and was one of the earliest writings to articulate a principled basis for an identity independent of Buenos Aires. [126]

Memorials Edit

The first and longest-standing memorial to Paine is the carved and inscribed 12-foot marble column in New Rochelle, New York, organized and funded by publisher, educator and reformer Gilbert Vale (1791–1866) and raised in 1839 by the American sculptor and architect John Frazee, the Thomas Paine Monument (see image below). [127]

New Rochelle is also the original site of Thomas Paine's Cottage, which along with a 320-acre (130 ha) farm were presented to Paine in 1784 by act of the New York State Legislature for his services in the American Revolution. [128] The same site is the home of the Thomas Paine Memorial Museum. [129]

In the 20th century, Joseph Lewis, longtime president of the Freethinkers of America and an ardent Paine admirer, was instrumental in having larger-than-life-sized statues of Paine erected in each of the three countries with which the revolutionary writer was associated. The first, created by Mount Rushmore sculptor Gutzon Borglum, was erected in Paris just before World War II began but not formally dedicated until 1948. It depicts Paine standing before the French National Convention to plead for the life of King Louis XVI. The second, sculpted in 1950 by Georg J. Lober, was erected near Paine's one time home in Morristown, New Jersey. It shows a seated Paine using a drum-head as a makeshift table. The third, sculpted by Sir Charles Wheeler, President of the Royal Academy, was erected in 1964 in Paine's birthplace, Thetford, England. With a quill pen in his right hand and an inverted copy of The Rights of Man in his left, it occupies a prominent spot on King Street. Thomas Paine was ranked No. 34 in the 100 Greatest Britons 2002 extensive Nationwide poll conducted by the BBC. [130]

Paine was also the writer of Rights of Man. He wrote it to fight against the critics who disagreed with French Revolution. In 1792, a writ of arrest was issued for him since the government was afraid that his works would influence the people to overthrow the government.

Facts about Thomas Paine 6: reaching France

Paine reached for France in September since he did not want to be captured. The surprising fact was that he made it to the French National Convention by election though he could not speak French.

Writer Thomas Paine is arrested in France - HISTORY

Thomas Paine was an English-born American political activist, philosopher, political theorist, and revolutionary. He authored the two most influential pamphlets at the start of the American Revolution and inspired the patriots in 1776 to declare independence from Great Britain. His ideas reflected Enlightenment-era ideals of transnational human rights. Historian Saul K. Padover described him as “a corsetmaker by trade, a journalist by profession, and a propagandist by inclination”.

Born in Thetford in the English county of Norfolk, Paine migrated to the British American colonies in 1774 with the help of Benjamin Franklin, arriving just in time to participate in the American Revolution. Virtually every rebel read (or listened to a reading of) his powerful pamphlet Common Sense (1776), proportionally the all-time best-selling American title, which catalysed the rebellious demand for independence from Great Britain. His The American Crisis (1776–1783) was a pro-revolutionary pamphlet series. Common Sense was so influential that John Adams said: “Without the pen of the author of Common Sense, the sword of Washington would have been raised in vain”. Paine lived in France for most of the 1790s, becoming deeply involved in the French Revolution. He wrote Rights of Man (1791), in part a defense of the French Revolution against its critics. His attacks on Anglo-Irish conservative writer Edmund Burke led to a trial and conviction in absentia in England in 1792 for the crime of seditious libel.

The British government of William Pitt the Younger, worried by the possibility that the French Revolution might spread to England, had begun suppressing works that espoused radical philosophies. Paine’s work, which advocated the right of the people to overthrow their government, was duly targeted, with a writ for his arrest issued in early 1792. Paine fled to France in September where, despite not being able to speak French, he was quickly elected to the French National Convention. The Girondists regarded him as an ally. Consequently, the Montagnards, especially Maximilien Robespierre, regarded him as an enemy.


French Revolution Edit

After involving itself in the Seven Years' War and the American Revolutionary War, France found itself financially ruined. [1] Attempts to pass an economic plan to alleviate that in the Estates-General of 1789 led instead to the Third Estate forming the National Assembly. [2] Succeeded, in turn, by the National Constituent Assembly and the Legislative Assembly, the various legislative bodies succeeded in rendering the monarchy constitutional, limited by democratic institutions. [3] Attempts to remove the monarch entirely, although thwarted on 20 June 1792, led to the effective overthrow of Louis XVI on 10 August. [4] On 21 October, France was formally declared a republic. [5]

Britain was initially sympathetic to the revolutionaries of France, but the sympathy dissolved with the execution of Louis XVI and was replaced by hostility and a growing schism within the Whigs. While the Foxite branch argued for the Revolution as a source of general liberty, the administration of William Pitt became increasingly repressive, fearing the spread of Jacobinism to the United Kingdom and the overthrow of the government. [6] The split was reflected in the behaviour of the people. While some joined societies dedicated to parliamentary reform, others formed mobs under the banner of "Church and King" and attacked the homes of liberals and those who sympathised with the French Revolution, including that of Joseph Priestley. [7] The Association for Preserving Liberty and Property against Republicans and Levellers was formed and served as "an organised body of private agents engaged in ferreting out sedition wherever it raised its inky head". [8]

Paine and the Rights of Man Edit

Thomas Paine was a noted writer and political theorist whose work had influenced and helped drive the American Revolution. Having returned to England, he decided to write a book, Rights of Man, addressing the arguments of Edmund Burke, a prominent conservative strongly fearful of the French Revolution. The first part was published in 1791 and attracted no attention from Pitt's administration. [9] The second, published on 16 February 1792, advocated, amongst other things, the right of the people to replace their government if they thought it appropriate. [10] The work was an immediate success, selling a million-and-a-half copies, [9] generated public support for various reform movements. [11] It also brought Paine to the attention of the government and made him a subject to its crackdown. While Paine was visiting an aunt in Kent, Pitt had a writ issued against J.S. Jordan, Paine's publisher, [12] prosecuting him for seditious libel, a crime based on the concept that the executive was beyond reproach, which made it illegal to criticise the government. [13] Paine returned to London and began to campaign for Jordan, finding him a lawyer and agreeing to pay his legal fees. Jordan, however, most likely frightened for his life, pleaded guilty and turned his files over to the court. With that additional evidence, a writ was issued for Paine on 21 May, charging him with the same crime. [12] His trial date was set for 8 June, and later rescheduled for 18 December. [14]

Paine left England before he could be tried since he had been elected a member of the National Convention in France, tasked with writing a new constitution. [15] He departed England on 13 September, never to return, [16] but he further infuriated the government remotely by republishing the Rights of Man and writing Letter Addressed to the Addressors of the Late Proclamation in which he defended his actions and beliefs against those who had chosen to side with the government. [17] Paine was instead represented in absentia by Thomas Erskine, a famous lawyer and orator who served as Attorney General to the Prince of Wales. [18] As the trial date approached, both Erskine and Paine were targeted by vicious personal attacks. Paine's writ was followed by hundreds of loyal addresses, many of which targeted him, the burning of an effigy in Exeter and the banning of the sale of any of his books in Chester. [19] Pamphlets slandering him were widely published, and both Paine and Erskine had their personal lives dug into. [20]

The trial was finally held on 18 December 1792 in front of the Court of King's Bench. Lord Kenyon presided, with Erskine representing the defence, and the government represented by Archibald Macdonald, John Scott and Spencer Perceval. [21] Macdonald opened for the prosecution, expressing outrage at the publication of the Rights of Man and his concern that it would be made available to so many members of the public who were unfamiliar with political philosophy. [22] He also read excerpts from a letter that Paine had written to him after his arrival in Paris, which contained "everything with which to inflame a jury". [23] He then presented various witnesses, starting with Thomas Haynes, to testify that the works had indeed been published, and following with Thomas Chapman, who had printed the first part of the Rights of Man. Chapman testified that he had intended to print the second part until he came upon a passage that "appeared of a dangerous tendency" [24] and that, after an argument with a drunken Paine, he then returned the book. [25]

Erskine offered no evidence, admitting that Paine had written both the Rights of Man and the letter to Macdonald and instead chose to begin speaking. He opened with a statement against those who had pressured him to refuse Paine's case and stated, in a "brilliant exposition of the principles involved", [26] that:

I will for ever, at all hazards, assert the dignity, independence and integrity of the English Bar, without which impartial justice, the most valuable part of the English Constitution, can have no existence. From the moment that any advocate can be permitted to say that he will, or will not, stand between the Crown and the subject arraigned in the court where he daily sits to practise, from that moment the liberties of England are at an end. If the advocate refuses to defend, from what he may think of the charge or of the defence, he assumes the character of the Judge nay, he assumes it before the hour of judgment and in proportion to his rank and reputation, puts the heavy influence of, perhaps, a mistaken opinion into the scales against the accused, in whose favour the benevolent principle of English law makes all presumptions. [27]

He then moved on to addressing the freedom of the press and the limits on it, arguing that freedom of speech was necessary to identify the flaws in the structure of the government and the constitution, even if the author was mistaken about the flaws. As long as a writer intended only to enlighten others, prohibiting their speech would serve only to undermine the government by harming the opportunities to improve it. While Macdonald had argued that the book was problematic because it was circulated amongst all classes of society, Erskine argued that this was not the test of whether the Rights of Man was seditious. Instead, the test was whether Paine had exclusively dealt with what he believed to be in the best interests of England, its government and its people. While Paine's opinions ran counter to the existing system of government, Erskine argued that "opinion is free and. conduct alone is amenable to the law". [28] For a libel claim to succeed, the Libel Act 1792 required the prosecution to show the publication was motivated by malice. Since Paine had intended only to help mankind, and this was a pure motive, he could not be guilty. [29]

Despite the speech, the jury found Paine guilty before Macdonald replied to Erskine's argument. [30]

Although it failed to sway the jury, Erskine's speech was given a rapturous response. After he left the court, he was confronted by a mob that cheered him and shouted, "Damn Tom Paine, but Erskine for ever, and the Liberty of the Press the King, the Constitution, and Erskine for ever". [20] The crowd proceeded to unhitch the horses from his carriage and carry the carriage (with him inside) to his lodgings at Serjeant's Inn. [20] Over 30 transcripts or reports of the trial were printed, all of which contained Erskine's speech, and many editions emphasised Erskine's name and the theme of his speech on the title pages, using it to sell copies. Other reactions were less positive William Godwin wrote a letter to Erskine shortly after the trial arguing that his statement that individuals were free to publish works attacking or criticising the Constitution "had a considerable share in prosecuting the verdict of guilty". [31] Paine himself found Erskine's speech and conduct during the trial disappointing, expecting him to do more to defend the principles in the Rights of Man than he had. [32]

Pitt's administration took the guilty verdict in Paine's trial as a sign that further prosecutions for sedition were possible and so began many. In the 17 months following the trial, 11 publishers of the Rights of Man were prosecuted, receiving prison sentences of up to four years. [33] They acted as a prelude to the 1794 Treason Trials in which a dozen reformers were indicted for allegedly conspiring to bring about a revolution. [34] Erskine played a prominent role in defending many of them, including Thomas Hardy, John Horne Tooke and John Thelwall, [35] all three of whom were acquitted. [36]

Thomas Paine: From Pirate to Revolutionary

Depending on whether you reckon by the Julian calendar or the Gregorian calendar, Thomas Paine was born late in January or early in February of 1737, in Thetford, England, a small town about eighty-five miles north-northeast of London. His father, Joseph Paine, was a corset maker and a Quaker. His mother, Frances, was the daughter of a local attorney and a member of the Church of England.

Young Thomas attended the Thetford Grammar School until he was twelve years old then he went to work as an apprentice to his father, learning the corset-making trade, which he quickly learned to loathe. Within a couple of years, he had begun running away from home, searching frantically for some way to escape corset making.

At sixteen, in 1753, he brought it off. He shipped out on a privateer — a private warship authorized by the English government to attack and loot commercial vessels sailing under the flag of any nation with whom England was legally at war. England was then at war with France in North America in the conflict Americans know as the French and Indian War, which would evolve in a couple of years into the Seven Years' War, a truly worldwide war that included battles in such far-flung places as Europe, Africa, India, South America, and the Philippines as well as North America.

All the major European powers of the period participated in the Seven Years' War. More than a million people lost their lives in it. And the map of the world underwent major changes as a result. Canada passed from France to England. Florida passed from Spain to England.

But when Thomas Paine signed on as a crewman on a privateer in 1753, all this was in the future. For the next few years, he and his fellow crewmen concentrated on robbing whatever French commercial vessels they could locate. And they seem to have done pretty well for themselves. The costs of commissioning privateers were borne by private investors, who hoped to make a profit from the value of the goods seized by their crewmembers. Politicians liked them, too. They argued that privateering was less destructive and wasteful than conventional warfare, since the privateer's goal was to capture ships rather than sink them. Also, and more to the point, privateering was a way of mobilizing armed ships and sailors without spending public money or commissioning naval officers.

Craig Nelson, author of the 2006 book Thomas Paine: Enlightenment, Revolution, and the Birth of Modern Nations, told WNYC interviewer Leonard Lopate in 2007 that Thomas Paine's brief career as a privateer was a definite financial success.

When Paine was a young man, he made a lot of money during the Seven Years' War working as a pirate. And he took two years off and really educated himself in the ideas of the Enlightenment, primarily the theories of Isaac Newton. And this self-education (which also Benjamin Franklin and George Washington did) is really what made him a figure of his time. He was able to impress very successful, very famous men — starting with Franklin, most importantly.

Dabbling in Ideas

In the early years, he failed at everything he tried. Paine's meeting with Franklin was still some years in the future, however. For now, he had his education to get on with. He moved to London and spent his two years hanging around bookshops and discussing ideas with the often rather widely read and knowledgeable types he met in such places — something that became a lifelong habit for him. In 1759, at the age of twenty-two, he married a servant girl.

By then, his two years as a full-time student behind him, he had gone back to corset making. It was work he knew. It enabled him to pay the bills. But he didn't like it any better than he had as a teenager. After his wife and their infant child both died less than a year after his marriage, he began struggling once more to put corset making behind him. He tried working as a cobbler, a cabinetmaker, a schoolteacher. He failed at everything he tried.

He wasn't as expert a worker in leather or wood as he was at making corsets, much as he hated it. And since his work wasn't so expert in those trades, his inability to get along with people raised further problems for him. As Harvard historian Jill Lepore put it recently in an article on Paine in the New Yorker, “Even at his best, Paine was rough and unpolished.” He was plainspoken, direct, tactless, blunt. People might put up with that from a man whose work was of the very highest quality. But they wouldn't put up with it from a man whose work was only average. Nor were headmasters and fellow teachers too keen on it. As Craig Nelson put it in that 2007 interview on WNYC,

He made a lot of people mad. He was something of a hard-nosed kind of guy, when it came to philosophical purity, so he made a lot of enemies.

Paine was plainspoken, tactless, blunt, but he was also insightful, even brilliant. And so it was that in 1762, at twenty-five, Paine turned to thievery once again, this time as a tax collector for the English government. To his credit, he hated that occupation at least as much as he hated sewing whale bones into corsets, and fortunately an opportunity to escape another despised line of work soon presented itself. He was living in London, in a boardinghouse operated by an elderly tobacconist who owned and managed his own tobacco shop. The tobacconist, whose health was not good, died. Paine married the man's daughter and took over the tobacco shop. But his new career was short-lived. He lost the shop and had to go back to tax collecting and corset making.

Coming to America

By the summer of 1774, he had had enough. He was thirty-seven years old and poor as the proverbial church mouse. He had been forced to sell almost everything he owned to pay his debts. He and his second wife had split up and gone their separate ways. He had no prospects but more corset making and more tax collecting. Willing to try almost anything else, he presented himself to Benjamin Franklin, who was living in London at that time as a sort of lobbyist or diplomat seeking to influence English policies that affected the colony of Pennsylvania. Paine talked with the sixty-eight-year-old Franklin and made a major impression on him. As I say, Paine was plainspoken, tactless, blunt, but he was also insightful, even brilliant. He asked Franklin for a letter of recommendation to someone in the American colonies who might provide him with work of some sort. Then he packed up what few possessions he could still call his own and boarded a ship for America.

The voyage over did not go well. According to Jill Lepore, Paine had “sickened with typhus during the journey.” He

arrived in Philadelphia in December, 1774, so weak that he had to be carried off the ship. What saved his life was a letter found in his pocket: “The bearer Mr Thomas Pain is very well recommended to me as an ingenious worthy young man.” It was signed by Benjamin Franklin. It was better than a bag of gold.

Paine recovered his health with the aid of a Philadelphia doctor who was a friend of Franklin's. With the aid of his letter from Franklin, he also found work, mostly as a schoolteacher and as a freelance writer for local magazines and newspapers. And he quickly slipped into his old habit of hanging around bookshops. It was in this way that he met Robert Aitken, a Scot who had come to Philadelphia five years before and set up as a bookseller and bookbinder. In 1774, the year of Paine's arrival on the scene, Aitken had added a print shop to his establishment.

Life as Editor

Eventually, he would produce the first English-language bible printed in the colonies. For now, however, in 1774, he had decided he wanted to establish a new magazine, which he would call the Pennsylvania Magazine. He hired Thomas Paine as editor.

Under Paine's editorship, the new magazine quickly earned a remarkable degree of influence in the colonies, and Paine himself was able to meet and befriend such men as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Rush, John Randolph, and Samuel Adams, with all of whom he seems to have talked at length. The more he talked and listened, the more convinced he became that the American colonists needed to act swiftly and decisively, lest the opportunity for full independence from England pass them by.

He quit the Pennsylvania Magazine after less than a year as editor to write a pamphlet he hoped would make his case as persuasively as it could be made. It was published in January 1776 under the title Common Sense. It was a huge success. It sold like hotcakes, in both its original edition and in pirated editions issued by printers throughout the colonies. “By April of 1776,” according to Howard Fast,

almost every adult in the thirteen colonies had read or had read to him some part of the booklet. In December of 1775, only wild-eyed radicals called for independence six months later only the most conservative elements — and few they were — of the American popular front stood out against independence. In that six-month period, the country united itself, tightened itself, and set its face solidly against the enemy, the loose alliance of thirteen far-flung colonies becoming a solid coalition. And by testimony of many, not a little of this was due to the slim book Tom Paine wrote.

Paine was, Fast wrote, “catapulted overnight … to a position as foremost protagonist of the rebel cause.”

By the end of the year, Paine had become, as Jill Lepore puts it, the first “embedded journalist” in American history. You might also describe him as the first syndicated columnist. He was following General Washington's ragtag Continental Army, which had dwindled, in the mere year and a half of its existence, from twenty thousand enthusiastic soldiers to what Fast calls “a few hundred beaten and hopeless men.” And Paine got to know those men very well. “He lived with the men,” Fast writes, “marched with them, spoke with them, pleaded with them.”

The idea was that he would work up his experiences with the Continental army in a series of articles, “The American Crisis,” which would appear simultaneously in major newspapers throughout the colonies. Although, according to Fast, “Paine never admitted how bad things were,” he saw very clearly indeed just how bad they really were. He knew, from bitter personal experience, that, as Fast puts it, “December of 1776 seemed close to the end.” And so it was that in December of '76, camped in New Jersey with Washington and his troops, Paine wrote the first of his syndicated columns about the war, the first of his so-called “Crisis Papers,” the one that begins, famously,

These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.

A few paragraphs on, Paine stressed his firm opposition to any initiation of force against the English by the American colonists, even as part of an effort to win the independence he himself so fervently supported. “Not all the treasures of the world,” he wrote,

could have induced me to support an offensive war, for I think it murder but if a thief breaks into my house, burns and destroys my property, and kills or threatens to kill me, or those that are in it, and to 'bind me in all cases whatsoever' to his absolute will, am I to suffer it? What signifies it to me, whether he who does it is a king or a common man my countryman or not my countryman whether it be done by an individual villain, or an army of them? If we reason to the root of things we shall find no difference neither can any just cause be assigned why we should punish in the one case and pardon in the other. Let them call me rebel and welcome, I feel no concern from it but I should suffer the misery of devils, were I to make a whore of my soul by swearing allegiance to one whose character is that of a sottish, stupid, stubborn, worthless, brutish man.

Howard Fast reports that “Washington read this essay” and “was tremendously moved and ordered it to be read aloud to the assembled brigades.” Thereafter, it appeared in the newspapers. Then it was independently printed in dozens of editions in dozens of cities, “folded and sold as a pamphlet” and “posted everywhere as a bill. It was memorized by thousands, and the phrases 'summer soldier' and 'sunshine patriot' were on every tongue. It became the battlecry of the day.” Altogether, according to Fast, it “had, if anything, more of a success than Common Sense.”

After the War

Flash forward a few years. It's now 1783. The war is over. Paine, now forty-six years old, is given a three-hundred-acre farm that had been seized from loyalists during the war years. It's near New Rochelle, NY, on Long Island Sound northeast of New York City on the way to Connecticut. He lives there a few years, then travels to France in 1787 and to England in 1788. He has almost as big a name and almost as many fans in those countries as he has in the United States. It was Paine, by the way, who came up with the phrase “United States of America” and suggested it, in one of his “Crisis Papers” as a name for the new nation to be created when the colonies had won their independence.

It was in London in 1791 that Paine, now in his mid-fifties, would meet the radical journalist, novelist, editor, bookseller, and writer of children's books William Godwin, who was at that time working on his Enquiry Concerning Political Justice and its Influence on Modern Morals and Manners. The Enquiry was published in 1793 and went on to be widely considered what the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy calls “the founding work of philosophical anarchism.”

Meeting Wollstonecraft

At the same time, Paine met Mary Wollstonecraft, a freelance journalist and translator, who would publish her Vindication of the Rights of Woman in 1792 and thus make a very plausible case for herself as the founder of individualist feminism. Later in the 1790s, Godwin and Wollstonecraft would marry. Their daughter, Mary Shelley, would become world famous as the author of the novel Frankenstein.

Interestingly, back in the late 1950s, Robert LeFevre, a major figure in the early years of the modern libertarian movement, argued that Frankenstein was really a fable about what happened when man invented the state — that is, coercive government. “Government alone, of all man's inventions, is capable of independent life,” LeFevre wrote. “Government alone, like Mrs. Shelley's terrifying creation of the monster born in Frankenstein's mind, has the power and the ability to turn upon its creators and destroy them.” And given the atmosphere Mary Shelley grew up in, the kinds of political ideas she had heard voiced since before she was old enough to remember, it just may be that LeFevre's interpretation of her novel was something she herself actually intended, if only subconsciously.

In any case, Godwin and Wollstonecraft first met Thomas Paine at a dinner held in his honor to celebrate the publication of his latest book, The Rights of Man, in which he argued for legal and political equality for women — and for something very close to philosophical anarchism. Earlier, in Common Sense, Paine had written that “some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them,” yet, “society in every state is a blessing, but Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil in its worst state an intolerable one.”

In The Rights of Man, fifteen years later, he wrote that the

great part of that order which reigns among mankind is not the effect of government. It has its origin in the principles of society and the natural constitution of man. It existed prior to government, and would exist if the formality of government was abolished. The mutual dependence and reciprocal interest which man has upon man, and all the parts of civilised community upon each other, create that great chain of connection which holds it together. The landholder, the farmer, the manufacturer, the merchant, the tradesman, and every occupation, prospers by the aid which each receives from the other, and from the whole. Common interest regulates their concerns, and forms their law and the laws which common usage ordains, have a greater influence than the laws of government. In fine, society performs for itself almost everything which is ascribed to government.

By way of example, Paine pointed out that

for upwards of two years from the commencement of the American War, and to a longer period in several of the American States, there were no established forms of government. The old governments had been abolished, and the country was too much occupied in defence to employ its attention in establishing new governments yet during this interval order and harmony were preserved as inviolate as in any country in Europe.… The instant formal government is abolished, society begins to act: a general association takes place, and common interest produces common security.

It is not true, according to Paine, “that the abolition of any formal government is the dissolution of society,” for in fact the abolition of formal government “acts by a contrary impulse, and brings [society] the closer together.” For

it is but few general laws that civilised life requires, and those of such common usefulness, that whether they are enforced by the forms of government or not, the effect will be nearly the same.

To no one's surprise, The Rights of Man was suppressed by the English government. By the beginning of 1792, it had become a crime to be found with a copy of The Rights of Man in one's possession. A warrant was issued for Paine's arrest. He had written The Rights of Man in defense of the French Revolution, in reply to Edmund Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France, in which the famed member of Parliament, who had supported the American revolution, severely criticized the French one. The Rights of Man was very popular in France. Paine himself was at least as famous there as he was in England or even America. So Paine fled England for France.

They threw him in prison on trumped-up charges of being a foreigner trying to wreak havoc in France. When he arrived, he was celebrated as a hero of the revolution and elected to the National Assembly, the body that had conferred honorary French citizenship upon him only a month earlier. But if Paine had problems getting along with people and was making enemies in England and English-speaking America, imagine the difficulties he confronted in a country where he didn't even speak the language. According to his biographer, Craig Nelson, his biggest mistake in the France of the early 1790s was choosing not to affiliate with the Jacobins, the faction that controlled the revolution during the Reign of Terror.

Paine became involved with a group that we know as the Girondins, the group that came to power between Lafayette and Robespierre. And the Girondins were purged by Robespierre and his followers, and Paine was among them. But because he was so popular — and his writings were so popular across Europe, and because he was associated with the American colonists — the French didn't know what to do with him during the Reign of Terror. So finally, they threw him in prison on trumped-up charges of being a foreigner trying to wreak havoc in France — and, I think, left him there to die. (This is something they did when they didn't know that they should chop someone's head off.)

Age of Reason

And so it was that Paine wrote his last book, The Age of Reason, in prison. The Age of Reason, as Craig Nelson explained back in 2007 to WNYC interviewer Leonard Lopate, is about religion.

During the Age of Reason period, it was very common for people to be a religion that was called deism, where because of Newton's theories about math underlying the cosmos, people believed that what was called a First Being, or Providence, or the Invisible Hand, had created the world, but you couldn't pray to him, and there wasn't really a reason to have a church, and this is what Paine and Jefferson and Robespierre and Napoleon and almost every significant person of the 18th century believed in. This is what the Age of Reason is about, frankly. But after that, when deism fell out of favor, it was termed as an argument for atheism.

The accusation that Paine's arguments were arguments for atheism was spread far and wide by the clergy and other officials and employees of the churches Paine regarded as unnecessary and inadvisable. The minions of organized religion caused Paine a good deal of trouble and torment during his last years on this earth. But as Craig Nelson notes, The Age of Reason sold very well indeed, just as his earlier books had done.

He was the biggest bestselling author of the 18th century. The Age of Reason was the second-biggest bestseller. Rights of Man was first, and Common Sense was third.

Why was Paine so successful an author? According to Craig Nelson, it was because he wrote in what was, for the 18th century, a highly unusual style.

Paine is in a way the most modern Founding Father — an incredible writer. And everyone who writes on him tries to figure out how this happened. You find yourself in the bowels, poring through these 18th-century, barely legible manuscripts, and the sentences are eight pages' long, and then you come to Paine and it reads like something written today.

More specifically, Nelson argues, Paine wrote for the ear, rather than for the eye.

Almost alone among the Founding Fathers he spoke out unequivocally against slavery. Actually, he wrote to be read aloud. Since so many people were illiterate or had trouble reading at this time, reading was still something for the upper middle class and upper class of the country. So he actually wrote to be read aloud, and that's a hallmark of fine writing today, that you hear the writer's voice when you read something.

Paine was eventually released from prison, but he was trapped in France for years. He couldn't go back to England, where he was a wanted man. And he couldn't try to sail for America, for fear his French ship would be interdicted by the British navy and he'd be put under arrest and dragged back to England.

Finally, in 1802, at the personal invitation of Thomas Jefferson, now president of the United States, Paine returned to America. Seven years later, he died, his name and reputation besmirched by accusations of atheism on the part of those who didn't understand or pretended not to understand The Age of Reason.

Thomas Paine wasn't a fully consistent libertarian. He understood and very memorably articulated the basic principles of libertarianism. Almost alone among the Founding Fathers he spoke out unequivocally against slavery. But he also advocated government-funded old-age pensions and an international organization much like the United Nations to enforce world peace.

On the other hand, where in the 18th century are you going to find a fully consistent libertarian? You won't. In the eighteenth century, a man like Paine is the best you're likely to do. And, for my money, he's plenty good enough. He grasped the big picture if he got some of the details wrong, well, none of us is perfect.

Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine lived at a time when revolution was in the air. He was an inspirational writer who wanted to change the way people thought and acted. His writings were able to stir the hearts of ordinary people.

His clear, easy-to-read, writing style, meant that millions of people read his works. So, when he wrote that Americans should fight for complete independence from Britain and set up a government which upheld the rights of ordinary men and women, they listened. When he wrote to defeated and demoralised Revolutionary soldiers, urging them to remain true to their cause, they obeyed. And his book 'Rights of Man', written in support of the French Revolution, has inspired many thinkers and politicians down the ages to work for a government that enables all people to live free and secure lives.

At the time, however, his writings saw him charged with treason in Britain, and he had to flee to France. Here he was welcomed as a hero, only to be put into prison sometime later. It was during his imprisonment that he finished the first part of one of his most controversial works, &lsquoThe Age of Reason'. Although he believed in God, he despised organised religion. The book lost him many friends.

Thomas Paine also found time to be an inventor and engineer. He designed iron bridges and a smokeless candle. He was also, it appears, a difficult man to get on with, and he quarrelled with many of his friends. His writings made him many enemies amongst the ruling classes and the religious leaders of the time. He died poor and almost friendless, in New York, in 1809. However his writings live on - encouraging people to question how the world should be and struggle for change. And people are still listening, even now!