"This effort to right the wrongs of Thomas Paine is, in my opinion, a service to mankind."—Andrew D. White, LL.D., First President of Cornell University, Minister to Russia, and Ambassador to Germany.
IN MEMORY OF THOMAS "CLIO" RICKMAN, WILLIAM COBBETT, GILBERT VALE, HORACE SEAVER, ROBERT G. INGERSOLL, MONCURE D. CONWAY, THADDEUS B. WAKEMAN and EUGENE M. MACDONALD, noble defenders while living of the much maligned dead, this appreciation of our nation's founder and the world's greatest apostle of liberty is reverently inscribed.
FROM time immemorial men have observed the natal days of their gods and heroes. A few weeks ago Christians celebrated the birthday of a god. We come to celebrate the birthday of a man.
Within the brief space of twenty-five days occur the anniversaries of the births of the three most remarkable men that have appeared on this continent—Paine, Washington and Lincoln—the Creator, the Defender and the Savior of our Republic. To do honor to the memory of the first of these—to acknowledge our indebtedness to him as a patriot and philosopher, and to extol his virtues as a man—have we assembled here. We come the more willingly and our exercises will be characterized by a deeper earnestness because the one whose merits we celebrate has been the victim of almost infinite injustice. In the popular mind to utter a word in his behalf has been to apologize for wrong—to declare yourself the friend of Paine has been to declare yourself the enemy of man. The world is not prepared to do him full justice yet. Priestcraft, still powerful, uses all its power to prejudice the public mind against him and in too many hearts, where love and gratitude should dwell, ingratitude and hatred have their home. There are those who will condemn this meeting in his name today and some of you may spurn the blossoms I have culled to place upon his tomb.
But is it a crime to defend the dead? Has the court of Death issued an injunction restraining us from pleading the cause of the departed? We defend from the assaults of calumny the fair fame of the living, and not more sacred are the reputations of the living than of the absent dead whose voiceless lips can utter no defense. The lips of Thomas Paine have long been dumb; but mine are not, and while I live I shall defend him. As Rizpah stood by the bodies of her murdered sons, keeping back the birds of prey, so will I stand by the memory of this good man and drive back the foul vultures that feast their greedy selves and feed their starving broods on dead men's characters.
On the 29th of January, 1737, at Thetford, England, Thomas Paine was born. He was of Quaker parentage. Like nearly all of earth's illustrious sons, he was of humble origin. At an early age he left the paternal roof and began alone life's struggle,—serving in the British navy, teaching in London, engaging in mercantile pursuits, and performing the duties of exciseman.
While in London he formed the acquaintance of the learned Franklin, who induced him to cross the ocean and cast his lot with the people of the New World. He comes to America toward the close of 1774. A year of quiet observation enables him to grasp the situation here. He sees thirteen feeble colonies struggling against a powerful monarchy; he sees a tyrant whom the world styles "king" trampling the fair form of Liberty beneath his feet; he sees his subjects crouching and cringing before the throne, pleading in vain for a redress of wrongs. Separation and Independence have not yet been proposed. It is true that Lexington, and Concord, and Bunker Hill have passed into history; it is true that Patrick Henry, James Otis, John Hancock, and the Adamses have fearlessly denounced the odious measures of the British ministry; yet up to the very close of 1775, not a voice has been raised in favor of Independence. A redress of grievances is all that the boldest have demanded. But the current of history is to be turned. Rebellion is to be changed to Revolution. With the firm belief that right will triumph, Paine marshals the legions of thought that spring from his prolific brain and on the first of January, 1776, moves in solid columns against this citadel of tyranny. The shock is irresistible. The solid masonry gives way, and falls before his fierce assault. Into the breach thus made an eager people rush, and on the ruins plant the unsoiled banner of a new Republic.
That the Fourth of July, 1776, would not have witnessed the Declaration of Independence but for the timely appearance of Paine's "Common Sense," no candid student of history will for a moment question. This book first suggested American Independence; in this book appeared, for the first time, "The Free and Independent States of America." Nor did Paine's labors end with the publication of this work. He was the inspiring genius of the long war that followed. When Washington's little army was hurled from Long Island, when despondency filled every heart, and all seemed lost, Paine came to the rescue with the first number of his "Crisis," in which were couched those thrilling words, "These are the times that try men's souls." His pamphlet, by orders of the commander-in-chief, was read at the head of each regiment. It was also sent broadcast over the land. The effect was magical; into the dispirited ranks is breathed new life, and in the minds of the people planted a determination never to give up the struggle. At critical periods during the war number after number of this brave work appeared until, at last, he could triumphantly say, "The times that tried men's souls are over, and the greatest and completest revolution the world ever knew, gloriously and happily accomplished."
The pen of Paine was as mighty as the sword of Washington. "Common Sense" was the glorious sun that evolved a new political world; each number of the "Crisis" a brilliant satellite that helped to illumine this New World's long night of Revolution.
In the Old World liberty remained, as it still remains to a large extent, yet to be wearisomely achieved. In France the people were struggling against a corrupt and oppressive government. Paine enlisted his services in the cause of freedom there. He advocated a Republic, and organized the first Republican society in France. But Louis was permitted to resume his reign, and tranquility having been for a brief season restored, Paine went to his native England, where, in reply to Burke's "Reflections on the French Revolution," appeared his "Rights of Man." With a desperation characteristic of the detected robber the Government suppressed his work; but not until it had kindled a fire in Europe which tyrants have not yet succeeded in extinguishing and in the glare of whose unquenchable flames may be read the doom of monarchy.
The storms of revolution bursting forth afresh, Paine again repaired to France. A joyous reception awaited his arrival at Calais. As his vessel entered the harbor a hundred cannon thundered "Welcome!" As he stepped upon the shore a thousand voices shouted "Vive Thomas Paine!" Bright flowers fell in showers around him; fair hands placed in his hat the national cockade. An immense meeting assembled in his honor. Over the chair he sat in was placed the bust of Mirabeau with the colors of France, England and America united. All France was ready to honor her defender.
Three departments, the Oise, the Pas-de-Calais, and the Puy-de-Dome, each chose him for its representative. He accepted the honor from Calais and proceeded to Paris. His entry into the French capital was a triumphal one. He was received as a hero,—an intellectual hero who on the field of mental combat had vanquished Europe's most brilliant champion of monarchy, and vindicated before the tribunal of the world mankind's eternal rights.
He took his seat in the National Convention. A stupendous task devolved upon this body—the formation of a new Constitution for Republican France. Its most illustrious statesmen and its wisest legislators must be chosen to prepare it. A committee of nine was named: Thomas Paine, Danton, Condorcet, Brissot, Barrere, Vergniaud, Petion, Gensonne, and the Abbe Sieyes. To Paine and Condorcet chiefly was the work of drafting it assigned by their colleagues.
Then came the trial of Louis XVI and the beginning of those turbulent scenes which culminated in the Reign of Terror. The convention was clamoring for blood. Paine had been one of the foremost in overthrowing the monarchy. He believed the king to have been tyrannical,—to have been the pliant tool of a corrupt nobility, and of a still more corrupt priesthood. But he did not deem him deserving of death, nor did he believe that the best interests of France would be subserved by such harsh measures. But the Terrorists threatened with vengeance all who should dare to oppose them. To plead the cause of the king might be to share his fate. A vote by any member in favor of saving his life might bring an overwhelming vote against that member's own life. They had resolved that the king should die, and led by such men as Robespierre and Marat, there were assembled the most determined and the most dangerous men of France. The galleries, too, were filled with an excited mob of fifteen hundred—many of them hired assassins, fresh from the September massacre. "We vote," protested Lanjuinais when the balloting commenced, "under the daggers and the cannon of the factions." In this perilous position what course would Paine pursue? Would he, like others, quietly acquiesce in these unjust proceedings? He had never yet faltered in his purpose of pursuing what he deemed the right. Would he shrink from danger now? No! above the wild storm of that enraged assembly, through his interpreter, rose the voice of this brave man in powerful, eloquent appeals in behalf of mercy. "Destroy the King," in effect, he said, "but save the man! Strike the crown, but spare the heart!"
He pleads in vain; the king must die. "Death within four-and-twenty hours," is the decree. Amid the insults and execrations of a frenzied mob Louis is torn from the arms of his queen and children and hurried to the scaffold.
The Mountain has triumphed. The Jacobins, infuriated by the taste of a king's blood, will next devour their fellow-members. The Girondins, the heart and brains of France, are expelled from the convention, dragged to prison and to the guillotine. Paine's plea for mercy can not be forgiven. He is imprisoned; sentence of death is finally pronounced against him; the hour for his execution, with that of his fellow-prisoners, is set. Fortuitously he escapes. In summoning the victims for execution he is overlooked. Soon after, and before the mistake is discovered, the bloody Robespierre is overthrown, and his own neck receives the blow he meant for Paine. The fall of Robespierre stems the crimson torrent and, in time, secures for Paine his freedom. His imprisonment has lasted nearly a year, a year never to be forgotten, a year of chaos, from which is to arise a fairer and a better France.
Let us contemplate, for a moment, this bloody and protracted drama. Let us, in imagination, visit this death-stricken Paris. Buildings—once palaces—have been transformed into prisons. Thousands are crowded within their walls; beings of both sexes, and of every age and rank; grayhaired men who look with stolid indifference upon the scenes around them; youth, pale with fear; heroic types of manhood pacing to and fro with all the bearing of conquerors; frail women, whose swollen eyes, those tear-stained windows of the soul, faintly reveal the heart's fierce agony within! The scene is changed. All is bustle and confusion. A morbid and excited crowd is gathering; the death tumbrils go rumbling by toward the Place de la Revolution; the groans of men, the shrieks of women, rend the air and throw a shade of sadness over all deeper than midnight's gloom.
Again the scene shifts. The bustle is over now; the crowd has dispersed; those shrieks and groans are hushed. But that huge pile of headless trunks; the headsman's sack; those pools of blood; that blood-stained instrument, to whose edge still cling the straggling hairs of its victims, the golden threads of youth mingled with the silver threads of age, these remain—grim fragments of the feast where this French Saturn made his last repast.
Day after day this carnival of death goes on. Danton, Brissot, and many more of the best men of France are butchered; Roland and Condorcet die by their own hands; Talleyrand is a refugee in America, and Lafayette pines in the dungeon vaults of Austria.
Many noble women, too, are sacrificed. Marie Antoinette follows her Louis to the scaffold. In the Conciergerie, companions for a time, are held captive two of the purest and noblest of women,—the lovely and amiable Josephine Beauhamais, destined to become Napoleon's queen, and the beautiful and gifted Madame Roland, whose innocent blood must wet the cruel knife of the guillotine.
Such was the French Revolution,—"A mighty truth clad in hell-fire,"—the bloodiest, and yet the brightest page in the history of France. It might have been a bloodless one, it might have been a brighter one, had the wise and moderate counsels of Thomas Paine prevailed.
In the shadow of death the crowning effort of his life, the "Age of Reason," was composed. His pen had given kingcraft a mortal hurt; priestcraft must be destroyed. This book has filled die Orthodox world with terror. Around it has raged one of the fiercest intellectual conflicts of the age. All the artillery of Christendom has been brought to bear upon it; but without effect. Firm, impregnable, like some Gibraltar, it still stands unharmed.
Bowed with the weight of sixty-six years Paine returned to America. Here the evening of his life was passed,—embittered by a world's ingratitude.
"Men never know their saviors when they come."
The apostle of liberty, of mercy, and of truth, became successively a martyr to each. For espousing the cause of liberty England declared him an outlaw; for advocating mercy France gave him a prison; and for proclaiming the truth America placed upon his aged head the cruel crown of thorns.
But death came at last and brought relief to the persecuted sage. On a bright June morning (June 8), in 1809, the end came.
Yes, death came. But with it came no fears. No banished Hagar with famishing infant haunted him; from the desolate ruins of those Midianite homes came no phantoms to strike his soul with terror; no Uriah's ghost stood before his bedside and would not down; the hand that with no weapon but the pen had made priests and monarchs tremble, now growing cold and pallid, was not stained with the blood of a wile or child; no agonizing shrieks of a burning Servetus rang in his dying ears. Tempestuous as life's voyage had been, the old man readied his port in peace. Nature, whom he had deified, fondly and pityingly held him in her all-embracing arms, and soothed him in that last sad hour as with a mother's love. The morning sun looked kindly down and kissed his throbbing temples; gentle breezes, fragrant with the odors of a thousand roses, fanned his fevered brow; joyous birds, whose songs he loved so well, came to his window and sang their cheeriest notes; while faithful friends were at his bedside, ministering to every want. And so, bravely and peacefully, with that serenity of soul which only the conscious of a well-spent life can give, the grand old patriot passed away.
Thus have I briefly traced the public career of Thomas Paine,—a career in which his steadfast devotion to manly principles ranks him with the world's worthiest heroes. His private life was not less honorable. In his moral nature were united the noblest traits that adorn the human character.
His philanthrophy was bounded only by the limits of the world in which he lived Jew and Mohammedan, Christian and Infidel, Caucasian and Mongolian, the despised negro and the rude Indian, all to him were brothers.
His charity was of the broadest kind. He was ever ready to share his last dollar or his last comfort with the poor and distressed, and this regardless as to whether they were friends or foes. When his Republican friend, Bonneville, was crushed and impoverished by Napoleon, Paine gave to his family an asylum in America, and willed to them a part of his estate. When a brutal English officer assaulted him in Paris—and to strike a deputy the penalty was death—he saved him from the guillotine, and finding him penniless, from his own purse paid his passage home to England.
His patriotism was never questioned. Many have won the name of patriot whose services to their country have been inspired by mere selfish motives; but with him, fame, wealth, comfort, all were sacrificed for his country's welfare. Throughout that eight year's struggle, his life, his time, his talents, all were at her service. And, whether serving as aid-de-camp to General Greene in that terrible campaign of '76; filling with ability the important post of Secretary to the Committee on Foreign Affairs; with Laurens at the French court negotiating loans for his government; or cheering the despondent and nerving them up to deeds of valor,—he was at all times, and in every situation, the same modest, magnanimous, unflinching patriot.
In his disinterestedness he stands alone. At the beginning of the Revolutionary struggle he was a poor author, lacking at times even the bare necessities of life. But he had the opportunity of becoming rich. The enormous sale of "Common Sense" would of itself have secured for him a handsome competence. But what did he do? did he secure for himself the profits to which he was justly entitled? No! he presented to each of the thirteen colonies the copyright, and came out indebted to his printer for the original edition. When his country languished for want of funds to pay her soldiers in the field he started a subscription that brought her more than a million, heading it with five hundred dollars, and limited his gift to this because he had no more to give. When his "Rights of Man" was ready for the press he refused one thousand pounds for the copyright and then gave it to the world.
Moral courage was another prominent element in this great man's character. His espousal of the cause of American Independence—a cause which no other man had up to that time dared to espouse—shows a lofty heroism; his attack upon monarchy, in the very capital of a monarchical government, knowing, as he must have known, that every effort would be made to crush him, was a grand exhibition of moral bravery, while his publication of the "Age of Reason" was, in many respects, a more courageous act than either. But it was in His heroic defense of Louis XVI that his moral courage shone with all the lustre of the sun. Search all the annals of the past and say if on the historian's page is found one act, one single act, surpassing in moral sublimity that of Thomas Paine accepting a prison and, if need be, death, to save a fallen foe!
In the expression of his religious opinions no man has been more frank or explicit, while no man's religious opinions have been more grossly misrepresented. What was his belief?
"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 endeavoring to make our fellow-creatures happy.
"The world is my country, to do good my religion."
This was his creed; and with a firm belief in the truth and justice of this creed he lived and died.
There are, I regret to say, many good people who believe that Thomas Paine was a very bad man. They have heard this from the lips of those in whose veracity they place implicit confidence. While from infancy they have been taught to regard Jesus Christ as the mediator between man and God, they have been led to consider Thomas Paine as a sort of negotiator between the Devil and man. Now, let me ask these people, do you know why Thomas Paine has been so bitterly assailed? You have heard various charges preferred against him; but seriously, do you believe any of the charges named sufficient to account for the intense, the bitter hatred that has been manifested toward him? Have you never been impressed with the thought that there might be something back of all this, some secret grudge which your informants dare not mention? Let us notice briefly the faults and vices imputed to him.
You have been told that he was a pauper, that he died in wretchedness and want. Those who told you this were certainly mistaken. The estate presented to him by New York, in consideration of his Revolutionary services, was valued at $30,000, and the greater portion of this was remaining at his death. It is true that during his long and useful career he was many times in straitened circumstances; but this was the result, not of improvidence, or reckless expenditure, but of the devotion of his life to the cause of humanity instead of the accumulation of wealth. But what if he had died poor? Is poverty a crime? Yes, were this true, is it a thing of which to boast, that in a Christian city, within the sound of forty church-bells, an old man was suffered to lie neglected and alone, racked by the pangs of hunger and disease, piteously pleading for a crust of bread, or a cup of cold water to cool his parched and fevered tongue; and do you mean to tell us that Christian charity the while stood by unmoved, mocked his sufferings, and damned him when he died?
You have been told that he was a drunkard. A baser slander was never uttered. No human being ever saw Thomas Paine intoxicated. He was one of the most temperate of men. All of his neighbors and acquaintances indignantly denied the truth of this imputation. Gilbert Vale tells us that he knew more than twenty persons who were intimately acquainted with him and not one of whom ever saw him intoxicated. The proprietor of the house in New York, a respectable inn at which Paine boarded in his later years, says that of all his guests he was the most temperate. But supposing that he was a drunkard. Is drunkenness so rare as to secure for its victims an immortal notoriety? Are there no living drunkards for these omnivorous creatures to devour, that, like hyenas, they must dig into a drunkard's grave to fill their empty maws?
You have been told by the clergy that his writings are immoral. I defy those who make this charge to point to one immoral sentence in all that he has written. They cannot; and I further affirm that they dare not permit you to examine his writings and ascertain for yourselves the truth or falsity of this assertion. You who have never read his works may believe that they contain much that is bad. You may imagine that a deadly serpent lurks within them. Let me assure you that there is nothing in them that can harm you. The highest moral tone pervades their pages. They are full of charity, they glow with patriotism, they are warm with love. Even yet, within their lids methinks I feel the beating of the generous heart of him who penned them, every throb marking an aspiration for the welfare of his fellow-men. But admitting, for the sake of argument, that his writings are immoral. Does not the world teem with immoral literature? Are there not hundreds of immoral writers even among the living? If so, why has all this wrath been concentrated upon Paine to the almost total exclusion of the rest?
You have been told that he was an Infidel. Infidel to what? In the Christian sense of this term he was. But what peculiar significance do your informants attach to this fact? Are not three fourths of the world's inhabitants Infidels? Do not the greatest scholars of the age go far beyond him in Infidelity? Earth's wisest sons—those who have contributed most to the wealth of science, and literature, and statesmanship, have been these so-called Infidels. Yet Paine has been denounced as if he were the only Infidel that ever lived.
You have been told that he recanted on his deathbed. In other words, that he lived a hypocrite; that he only feigned Infidelity for the sake of being persecuted. A very plausible reason, surely. But this statement has been widely circulated, and that, too, in spite of the fact that every person who was with him during his dying hours pronounced it false,—those who sat by his bedside and heard every word that fell from his lips. It has ever been the custom of the church to make every distinguished individual appear as an endorser of her dogmas. See those insolent priests haunting the death chamber of Voltaire; see the crucifix thrust into the hands of the dying Litre and the dead Sherman; see the frantic efforts made to convince the world that Lincoln changed his religious views and died a Christian. An honest Quaker who visited Paine daily during his last illness testified to having been offered money to publicly state that he recanted. But he refused. Others were doubtless approached in the same manner, and with the same result. Unable to find a deathbed witness base enough to make so foul a charge, the calumny was originated by one who did not see him die. A Christian's brain conceived and bore that infamous falsehood; and black and hideous as the offspring was, nearly every orthodox clergyman was ready to serve it in the capacity of a faithful nurse. And in these nurses' arms it lived and died. Only a little while ago I saw one of them hugging to his breast and endeavoring to resuscitate with holy breath the putrid corpse of this dead lie! But supposing that he did recant, that he acknowledged the divinity of Christ. If he did this he died in the Christian faith. Now does the church treat deathbed penitents in the manner in which Paine has been treated? Has not every criminal that has repented in his last hours, from the dying thief of nineteen hundred years ago to the last murderer sent to Heaven, been held up as an object of admiration? Why, then, denounce Paine for having, as they claim, renounced his Infidelity? O Consistency, thou art, indeed, a jewel!
And now, assuming all these charges to be true, he would still have been naught but a poor, drunken Infidel; and while this would have subjected him to much harsh criticism while living, it would have been merely of a local character, and would have ceased when he was no more. Death would have silenced censure, the mantle of charity would have been spread above his grave, and the waves of oblivion would have rolled over his memory long ago. Is it possible that all Christendom would have been so deeply agitated, that the walls of her churches would have echoed every week with the fierce anathemas thundered from a thousand pulpits against the inanimate dust of a poor, drunken Infidel!
The conclusion, I think, must irresistibly force itself upon your minds that these reputed faults do not constitute the real head and front of Thomas Paine's offending. There must be something else. What is it? Would you have the mystery solved? If so, read his, "Age of Reason." Read it carefully, thoughtfully, critically; read it with your Bibles open before you; read it in connection with the ablest refutations that have been attempted against it. Do this, and the mystery will be solved. You will then know why Thomas Paine has been so bitterly assailed.
Two champions meet in the arena of debate. One of them, is overwhelmed. Smiles and groans announce his discomfiture, while shouts of applause reward the triumph of his rival. Then one of them grows angry, and stung with madness, drops the sword of argument and seizes in its stead the bludgeon of malice with which to assail his adversary. But which one does this, the successful or the defeated antagonist? I have somewhere read that "the bird that soars on pinions strong and free and is not hit by the marksman's bullet is not discomposed'"—that "it is the wounded bird that flutters!"
That Thomas Paine was not the poor, drunken, immoral wretch that priestly virulence represents him to have been, is dearly shown by the esteem in which he was held by those who knew him best. Would Dr. Franklin have retained the friendship of a poor, drunken, immoral wretch? Would Lord Erskine have defended against the government of England, a poor, drunken, immoral wretch? Would Bishop Watson have crossed swords in theological disputation with a poor, drunken, immoral wretch? Would Napoleon Bonaparte, when in the zenith of his fame, have invited to his table a poor, drunken, immoral wretch? Would France's greatest women, Roland and De Stael, have stooped to pay the tribute of praise to a poor, drunken, immoral wretch? Would President Jefferson have offered a national ship to bear to his home a poor, drunken, immoral wretch? Would Washington have acknowledged as one of the most potent factors in achieving American Independence, the pen of a poor, drunken, immoral wretch? Would the Congress of the United States and the National Convention of France have bestowed gifts and conferred, honors upon a poor, drunken, immoral wretch? Impossible! Every fact connected with his public life refutes these charges made against his private character.
In support of the claims that I have made for Thomas Paine, in refutation of the calumnies that have been circulated against him, I bring the testimony of more than five hundred witnesses—those who by intimate acquaintance, or a careful study of his life, are qualified to give a just estimate of his character and works,—historians, biographers, encyclopedists, statesmen, divines, and others; men and women who have acquired an honorable distinction in the various walks of life, and whose names alone are a sufficient guarantee that what they testify shall be the truth. From the dead and from the living—from two continents—I summon them:
"Immortal Paine! whose pen, surprised we saw, Could fashion empires while it kindled awe. "When first with awful front to crush her foes, All bright in glittering arms, Columbia rose, From thee our sons the generous mandate took, As if from Heaven some oracle had spoke; And when thy pen revealed the grand design, 'Twas done—Columbia's liberty was thine."
W. C. Braun: "From the brain of Thomas Paine Columbia sprang full panoplied, like Minerva from the brain of Jupiter."
"Paine was the prophet of American destiny."—George Jacob Holyoake.
"Thomas Paine is one of those men who most contributed to the establishment of a Republic in America."—Abbe Sieyes.
Century Dictionary: "Took a prominent part in support of the American Revolution."
"A principal actor in the American Revolution."—M. Thiers, President Third Republic of France.
John Clark Ridpath, LL. D.: "The Morning Star of the Revolution."
Hon. William Willett: "The first champion of American liberty."
Blackie's Modern Cyclopedia (England): "One of the founders of American Independence."
"The apostle of American Independence."—M. de Lamartine.
William Cobbett: "I saw Paine first pointing the way and then leading a nation through perils and difficulties of all sorts to independence and to lasting liberty, prosperity and greatness."
"Paine was the first voice in America that was imperial."—George W. Foote.
Theodore Roosevelt: "Thomas Paine, the famous author of 'Common Sense.'"
Edmund Burke: "That celebrated pamphlet which prepared the minds of the people for Independence."
Egerton Ryerson, LL. D.: "The sudden and marvelous revolution in the American mind was produced chiefly by a pamphlet."
George Bancroft: "Franklin encouraged Thomas Paine,... who was the master of a singularly lucid and fascinating style, to write an appeal to the people of America."
"With a soul kindled into one steady blaze, he plies that fast-moving quill. That quill puts down words on paper, words that shall burn into the brains of kings like arrows winged with fire and pointed with vitriol. Go on, brave author, sitting in your garret alone at this dead hour, go on, on through the silent hours, on and God's blessings fall like breezes of June upon your damp brow, on and on, for you are writing the thoughts of a nation into birth."—George Lippard.
Pennsylvania Journal (January 10, 1776): "This day was published and is now selling by Robert Bell, in Third street, price two shillings, 'Common Sense addressed to the inhabitants of North America.'"
From this book came the world's first and greatest republic, the first realization of a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Eloquently he pleads for separation and independence:
"The birthday of a new world is at hand."
"Everything that is right or natural pleads for separation. The blood of the slain, the weeping voice of nature cries, 'Tis time to part."
"The independence of America should have been considered as dating its era from, and published by, the first musket that was fired against her."
"O ye that love mankind! Ye that dare oppose, not only the tyranny, but the tyrant, stand forth! Every spot of the old world is overrun with oppression. Freedom hath been hunted round the globe. Asia and Africa have long expelled her. Europe regards her like a stranger and England hath given her warning to depart. O receive the fugitive, and prepare in time an asylum for mankind."
Benjamin Franklin: "A pamphlet that had prodigious effects."
Justin Winsor: "It was printed and reprinted in Philadelphia in English and once in German, and in the same year reprinted in Salem, Newbury-port, Providence, Boston, Newport, New York, Charleston, and also in London and Edinburgh."
Rev. Ashbel Green, D. D, (Chaplain to Congress): "The pamphlet had a greater run than any other ever published in our country."
William Massey, M. P.: "'Common Sense' had an immense circulation."
Francis Bowen, A. M.: "It had an enormous sale."
Historians' History of the World: "More than one hundred thousand copies of his 'Common Sense' were sold in a short time."
Prof. John Fiske: "More than a hundred thousand copies were speedily sold, and it carried conviction wherever it went."
Salmonsen's Conversationslexicon: "It had an immense sale (120,000 copies) and exerted an enormous influence."
Samuel M. Jackson, D.D., LL.D.: "'Common Sense' (120,000 copies were sold in the first three months) struck the keynote of the situation by advocating Independence and a Republican form of government."
(Referring to the sale of "Common Sense," Paine's biographer, Dr. Moncure D. Conway, says: "In the end probably half a million copies were sold.")
Eben Greenough Scott: "It was a plea for independence and a continental government."
Best of the World's Classics: "In this work Paine advocated complete separation from England."
Nordisk Familjebok Konversationslexicon: "He as boldly as convincingly sh owed the necessity of the Colonies tearing themselves away from England."
Rev. Charles E. Little: "His 'Common Sense' was widely circulated and greatly aided the Revolution by showing the importance and necessity of seeking independence."
Robert Bissett, LL. D.: "'Common Sense,' published [written] by Thomas Paine, afterwards so famous in Europe, contributed very much to the ratification of the independence of America."
John Frost, LL.D.: "It demonstrated the necessity, advantages, and practicability of independence."
Dr. George Weber: "Written in an eminently popular style it had an immense circulation, and was of great service in preparing the minds of the people for Independence."
Henry Howard Brownell: "The book was extensively circulated, and exercised, beyond question, a most powerful influence."
Robert Mackenzie: "His treatise had, for those days, a vast circulation and an extraordinary influence."
Oscar Fay Adams: "His famous pamphlet 'Common Sense' was of great service to the Americans."
Eva M. Tappan: "Its clear and logical arguments were a power in bringing on the war."
D. H. Montgomery: "Paine boldly said that the time had come for a 'final separation' from England, and that 'arms must decide the contest.'"
Rev. John Schroeder, D.D.: "'Common Sense,' from the pen of Thomas Paine, produced a wonderful effect in the different colonies in favor of Independence."
Woodrow Wilson: "Pamphlets which argued with slow and sober power gave place to pamphlets which rang with passionate appeals: which thrust constitutional argument upon one side and spoke flatly for independence. One such took precedence of all others, whether for boldness or for power, the extraordinary pamphlet which Thomas Paine, but the other day come out of England as if upon mere adventure, gave to the world as 'Common Sense.'"
American Reference Library: "'Common Sense,' more than any other single writing furnished the logical basis of Independence."
"'Common Sense' first formulated the demand for Independence."—The Nation (London).
Benson J. Lossing, LL.D.: "It was the earliest and most powerful appeal in behalf of Independence, and probably did more to fix that idea firmly in the public mind than any other instrumentality."
Richard Hildreth: "It argued in that plain and convincing style for which Paine was so distinguished."
Edmund Randolph: "A style hitherto unknown on this side of the Atlantic."
Charles Kendall Adams, LL.D: "A work which had great influence on the Colonists."
"The success and influence of this publication was extraordinary, and it won for him the friendship of Washington, Franklin and other distinguished American leaders."—Chambers' Encyclopedia.
J. Franklin Jameson, LL.D.: "'Common Sense'... exerted a profound impression."
John T. Morse, Jr.: "Thomas Paine had sent 'Common Sense' abroad among the people and had stirred them profoundly."
Lord Stanhope: "That publication had produced a strong effect."
Rev. Abiel Holmes, D.D., LL.D.: "'Common Sense', written by Thomas Paine, produced great effect."
John Howard Hinton: "'Common Sense' from the popular pen of Thomas Paine produced a wonderful effect in the different colonies in favor of independence."
Dr. David Ramsey: "In union with the feelings and sentiments of the people it produced surprising effects."
Rev. George E. Ellis, D.D.: "Of mighty cogency in its tone and substance, was that vigorous work of Thomas Paine."
Rev. Jesse A. Spencer, D.D.: "The style, manner and matter of his pamphlet were calculated to rouse all the energies of human nature."
William Grimshaw: "'Common Sense' roused the public feeling to a degree unequalled by any previous appeal."
Hand Book of American Revolution: "It affected sensibly the current of political feeling."
Barnes's Centenary History: "It produced a profound impression."
"The clear and powerful style of Paine made a prodigious impression on the American people."—Thomas Gaspey.
Charles Morris: "Its stirring tones filled all minds with the thirst for liberty."
Nouvelle Biographie Generale (France): "The pamphlet produced a prodigious effect."
"The success of this writing of Paine," says the Italian patriot and historian, Charles Botta, "cannot be described."
W. H. Bartlett: "This pamphlet produced an indescribable sensation."
John Andrews, LL.D.: "It was received with vast applause."
Timothy Pitkins: "'Common Sense' produced a wonderful effect in the different Colonies in favor of Independence."
Rev. William Gordon: "Nothing could have been better timed than this performance."
Boston Gazette (April 29, 1776): "Had the spirit of prophecy directed the birth of a publication it could not have fallen on a more fortunate period than the time in which 'Common Sense' made its appearance."
"In the elements of its strength it was precisely fitted to the hour, to the spot and to the passions."—Prof. Moses Coit Tyler.
Melville M. Bigelow: "No pamphlet was so timely, none had such an effect."
Prof. C. A. Van Tyne: "It was a firebrand which set aflame the ready political material in America."
"Every living man in America in 1776 who could read, read 'Common Sense.'... This book was the arsenal to which colonists went for their mental weapons."—Theodore Parker.
Mrs. Robert Burns Peattie: "Men, women and children read it. It was for them an education."
C. W. A. Veditz, LL.B.: "The work of Paine became the text book of the new era."
Sydney G. Fisher: "Its phrases became household words on the lips of every man in the patriot party."
Henry W. Edson: "Its concise, simple and unanswerable style won thousands to the cause."
Edward Channing: "It was read and debated in smithy and shop and converted thousands."
Henry Eldridge Bourne and Elbert Jay Benton: "Much that Paine wrote was so simple, so convincing, such 'common sense,' that thousands read it and concluded that separation was necessary."
William Cullen Bryant and Sydney Howard Gay: "Everybody read it and nearly everybody was influenced by it."
Pennsylvania Evening Post (March 17, 1776): "'Common Sense' hath made independents of the majority of the country."
Almon's Remembrancer (1776): "'Common Sense' is read by all ranks; and as many as read, so many become converted."
"'Common Sense' has converted thousands to Independence who could not endure the idea before."
(Where two or more paragraphs of testimony follow the name of a witness, all of the testimony cited, unless otherwise credited, belongs to the witness named.)
William Robinson (to Nathan Hafle, Feb. 17, 1776): "Upon my word, it is well done.... I confess a perusal of it has much reformed my notions."
Joseph Hawley (to Elbridge Gerry, Feb. 18, 1776): "I have read the pamphlet entitled 'Common Sense, Addressed to the Inhabitants of America.' and every sentiment has sunk into my well-prepared heart."
"By private letters which I have lately received from Virginia, I find that 'Common Sense' is working a powerful change there in the minds of many men."—George Washington.
Rev. John Drayton: "Colonel Gadsden (having brought the first copy of Paine's pamphlet 'Common Sense') boldly declared himself [in the Provincial Congress at Charleston, Feb. 10, 1776] for the absolute Independence of America. This last sentiment came like an explosion of thunder on the members."
Bitterly as the Colonists opposed the tyranny of the English Government there were no manifestations of disloyalty. If they harbored the thought of separation and independence no tongue or pen had dared to give expression to it. Referring to this period Hon. Alexander H. Stephens says: "Neither did Livingston, nor Washington, nor any of the prominent leaders in the cause of the Colonists at that time look to anything but a redress of grievances. None were looking to a final separation and Independence."
"When I first took command of the army," says Washington, "I abhorred the idea of Independence." When admonished that continued resistance to the crown might lead to separation, he replied: "If you ever hear of me joining in any such measures you have my leave to set me down for everything wicked." While Paine was writing his "Common Sense," Jefferson, the reputed author of the Declaration of Independence, wrote that he was "looking with fondness toward a reconciliation with Great Britain." But a little while before Franklin had assured Lord Chatham that "he had never heard in America an expression in favor of Independence."
Virginia, the province of Washington and Jefferson, declared in favor of "a redress of grievances, and not a revolution of government." In November, 1775, the Assembly of Pennsylvania, Franklin's province, elected a delegation to the Continental Congress with these instructions: "Though the British Parliament and administration have compelled us to resist their violence by force of arms, yet we strictly enjoin that you dissent from and utterly reject any proposition, should such be made, that may cause or lead to a separation from the mother country."
"Among them all not one had been stirred by that splendid dream of a new nation, a nation independent and free. There was but one mind and only one that had grasped the great plan. There was one voice crying in the wilderness. There was one herald of the dawn, one that did not hesitate in that night of hesitancy and reluctancy."—Dr. J. E. Roberts.
Dr. David Ramsay, a prominent leader in the Continental Congress and a popular historian of the Revolution, describing the effects of "Common Sense," says: "Though that measure [Separation] a few months before was not only foreign to their wishes, but the object of their abhorrence, the current suddenly became so strong in its favor that it bore down all before it."
Prof. Moses Coit Tyler: "In one sentiment all persons, Tories and Whigs, seemed perfectly to agree, viz., in abhorrence of the project of separation from the Empire. Suddenly, however, and within a period of less than six months [chiefly as a result of Paine's pamphlet] the majority of the Whigs turned completely around, and openly declared for Independence."
"Thomas Paine brought to the study of the American Revolution a mind... quick to see into things, and marvelous in its power of stating them with lucidity, with liveliness and with incisive force."
It is generally supposed that the writing of "Common Sense" with its advocacy of separation and independence was suggested by Franklin. It was not; Franklin knew nothing of its existence prior to its publication. What he suggested was a history of Colonial affairs which he believed would convince the world that the grievances of the Colonists against the mother country were just. Paine's own account of the origin of this work is as follows:
"In October, 1775, Dr. Franklin proposed giving me such materials as were in his hands towards completing a history of the present transactions, and seemed desirous of having the first volume out the next spring.. I had then formed the outlines of 'Common Sense,' and finished nearly the first part; and as I supposed the doctor's design in getting out a history was to open the new year with a new system, I expected to surprise him with a production on that subject much earlier than he thought of; and without informing him of what I was doing, got it ready for the press as fast as I conveniently could, and sent him the first pamphlet that was printed off."
Regarding the originality of his revolutionary ideas, "Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography" says: "Beyond doubt Washington, Franklin, and all other prominent men of the Revolutionary period gave Paine the sole credit for everything that came from his pen."
Washington, Franklin and Jefferson were among Paine's earliest converts. Franklin gave his book his immediate approval, and Jefferson's endorsement soon followed. Washington, writing to Joseph Reed in the same month that it was published, acknowledged its "sound doctrine and unanswerable reasoning," and declared for separation.
"Jefferson, Washington and Franklin, who up to that time [publication of 'Common Sense'] had denounced even the thought of Independence,... all changed front, and soon, not a majority, but the effective part of the people, followed."—T. B. Wakeman.
"Washington, now converted, wrote to his friends in praise of 'Common Sense'... Jefferson, John Adams, Franklin, Madison, all the great statesmen of the time, wrote praisefully of Paine's 'flaming arguments.'"—Ella Wheeler Wilcox.
"Leaders in the New York Provincial Congress considered the advisability of answering it but came to the conclusion that it was unanswerable."—Encyclopedia Britannica.
An Unknown Writer of Charleston, S. C. (Feb. 14, 1776): "Who is the author of 'Common Sense'? I can hardly refrain from adoring him. He deserves a statue of gold."
Abigail Adams: "I am charmed with the sentiments of 'Common Sense,' and wonder how an honest heart, one who wishes the welfare of his country and the happiness of posterity, can hesitate one moment at adopting them."
"'Common Sense,' like a ray of revelation, has come in season to clear our doubts and fix our choice."
John Winthrop: "If Congress should adopt its sentiments it would satisfy the people."
"The public mind was now fully educated to accept the doctrine of Independence.... Thomas Paine's celebrated pamphlet 'Common Sense' had sapped the foundation of any remaining loyalty to the British Crown."—John Clark Ridpath, LL. D.
Prof. Alexander Johnston: "Thomas Paine turned the scale by the publication of his pamphlet 'Common Sense'."
Richard Frothingham: "The great question which it treated was now discussed at every fireside; and the favorite toast at every dinner table was; 'May the independent principles of 'Common Sense' be confirmed throughout the United Colonies.'"
Henry Clay Watson: "'Common Sense' effected a complete revolution in the feelings and sentiments of the great mass of the people."
Rev. Jedediah Morse. "The change of the public mind on this occasion is without a parallel."
Dr. Benjamin Rush: "'Common Sense' burst from the press with an effect which has rarely been produced by types and paper in any age or country."
Hon. Salma Hale: "The effect of the pamphlet in making converts was astonishing, and is probably without precedent in the annals of literature."
James Cheetham (Paine's basest calumniator): "Speaking a language which the colonists had felt but not thought, its popularity, terrible in its consequences to the parent country, was unexampled in the history of the press."
General Charles Lee: "Have you [Washington] seen the pamphlet 'Common Sense'? I never saw such a masterly irresistible performance."
"He burst forth on the world like Jove in thunder."
Harper's Encyclopedia of United States History: "Its trumpet tones awakened the continent, and made every patriot's heart beat with intense emotion."
J. Dorman Steele, Ph. D.: "Every line glowed with the spirit of liberty, and men's hearts were thrilled as they read."
Larned's Ready Reference History: "A more effective popular appeal never went to the bosoms of a nation.... Its effect was instantaneous and tremendous."
Henry Cabot Lodge: "The pamphlet marked an epoch, was a very memorable production; from the time of its publication the tide flowing in the direction of independence began to race with devouring swiftness to high water mark."
Encyclopedia Britannica (10th Ed.)—"There is a complete concurrence of testimony that Paine's pamphlet issued on the first of January, 1776, was a turning point in the struggle, that it roused and consolidated public feeling, and swept waverers along with the tide."
Prof. Goldwin Smith: "Colonial resolution had been screwed to the sticking point by Tom Paine, the stormy petrel of three countries, with his pamphlet 'Common Sense.'"
Dr. E. Benjamin Andrews: "Most potent of all as a cause of the resolution to separate was Thomas Paine's pamphlet 'Common Sense'."
"No writing ever more instantly swung men to its humor."—Woodrow Wilson.
Mary L. Booth: "This eloquent production severed the last link that bound the Colonies to the mother country."
Mary Howitt: "The cause of Independence took as it were a definite form from this moment."
Guilliam Tell Poussin: "It rendered the sentiment of Independence national."
"The notion of a new State, wholly free from Great Britain, first found full and convincing expression in Paine's 'Common Sense'."—London Times.
Gen. William A. Stokes: "When 'Common Sense' was published a great blow was struck. It was felt from New England to the Carolinas; it resounded throughout the world."
The sympathy and assistance of liberty-loving Europeans contributed much to the success of the Revolution, and this was due largely to the influence of Paine's "Common Sense," which was printed in nearly every tongue and read in nearly every country of Continental Europe. Even in England thousands of copies were circulated, and the American party, the party of Chatham, Fox and Burke, was greatly strengthened, while the influence of the king and his ministry was correspondingly weakened by the effect of its masterly arguments.
Lord Erskine: "In that great and calamitous conflict, Edmund Burke and Thomas Paine fought in the same field together, but with very different success. Mr. Burke spoke to a Parliament in England, such as Sir George Saville describes it, having no ears but for sounds that flattered its corruptions. Mr. Paine, on the other hand, spoke to the people, reasoned with them, told them they were bound by no subjection to any sovereignty further than their own benefit connected them, and, by these powerful arguments, prepared the minds of the American people for that glorious, just, and happy Revolution."
Marquis de Chastelleaux: "Since my arrival in America I had not yet seen Mr. Paine, that author so celebrated in America and throughout Europe by his excellent work entitled 'Common Sense.' Lafayette and myself had asked the permission of an interview, and we waited on him accordingly with Col. Laurens.... His patriotism and his talents are unquestionable."
W. E. H. Lecky: "Paine's 'Common Sense'... was translated into French, and was, if possible, even more popular in France than in America."
"The work ran through innumerable editions in America and France. The world rang with it."—Hon. Henry S. Randall.
Silas DeAne: "'Common Sense' has been translated, and has had a greater run here [in France] than in America. A person of distinction, writing to his noble friend in office, has these words: 'I think, with you, my dear Count, that "Common Sense" is an excellent work, and that its author is one of the greatest legislators among the million writers that we know.'"
Sir George Trevelyan: "It would be difficult to name any human composition which has had an effect at once so instant, so extended, and so lasting. It flew through numberless editions. It was pirated, and parodied, and imitated, and translated into the language of every country where the new Republic had well-wishers, and could hope to procure allies.... It was reprinted in all the Colonies with a frequency surprising at a time when Colonial printing houses were very few. Three months from its first appearance, a hundred and twenty thousand copies had been sold in America alone; and, before the demand ceased, it was calculated that half a million had seen the light."
"Paine saw beyond precedents and statutes, and constitutional facts or fictions, into the depths of human nature; and he knew that, if men are to fight to the death, it must be for reasons which all can understand."
John Adams: "'Common Sense' was received in France and in all Europe with rapture."
"History is to ascribe the Revolution to Thomas Paine." (Letter to Thomas Jefferson).
John Quincy Adams: "Paine's 'Common Sense' crystalized public opinion and was the first factor in bringing about the Revolution."
Samuel Adams: "Your 'Common Sense'... unquestionably awakened the public mind, and led the people loudly to call for a Declaration of our National Independence."
Parker Pillsbury: "Without his 'Common Sense,' written in 1775, we should not have had the Declaration of Independence in 1776."
Samuel Bryan: "This book, 'Common Sense,' may be called the Book of Genesis, for it was the beginning. From this book spread the Declaration of Independence, that not only laid the foundation of liberty in our own country, but the good of mankind throughout the world."
"The open movement to Independence dates from its publication."—Encyclopedia Britannica (11th Ed.)
Elkanah Watson (one of Paine's calumniators): "It everywhere flashed conviction, and aroused a determined spirit which resulted in the Declaration of Independence."
Rev. E. Cobham Brewer, LL. D.: "This spark was sufficient to rouse the Americans, who at once signed the Declaration of Independence."
William Howitt: "It at once seized on the imagination of the public, cast all other writers into the shades and flew in thousands and tens of thousands all over the Colonies.... The common fire blazed up in Congress, and the thing was done."
"He became the great oracle on the subject of governments and constitutions."
Thomas Gaspey: "He was treated with great consideration by the members of the Revolutionary government, who took no steps of importance without consulting him."
Grand Dictionary Universel: "He became the political catechism of the movement."
Dictionary of National Biography (America): "Joined the Provincial army in the autumn 1776 and became a volunteer aid-de-camp to General Nathaniel Greene, animating the troops by his writings [the 'Crisis']."
"The pamphlets that stirred like a trumpet call the flagging energies of a desponding people."—Rev. John Snyder.
"General Greene made him one of his aides-de-camp; but an appointment on that staff, during those weeks, carried with it very little, either of privilege or luxury. In the flight from Fort Lee Paine lost his baggage and his private papers; but he had kept or borrowed a pen. He began to write at Newark, the first stage in the calamitous retreat; and he worked all night at every halting place until his new pamphlet was completed. It was published in Philadelphia on the 19th of December, under the title of 'The Crisis,' and at once flew like wildfire through all the towns and villages of the Confederacy."—Sir George Trevelyan.
This, the first number of the "Crisis," opens with these words: "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 his 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."
Samuel Eliot: "His later pamphlets, issued during the war under the name of the 'Crisis,' were of equal power [to 'Common Sense']."
Encyclopedia of Social Reform: "The 'Crisis' exerted wide influence for Independence and Republicanism."
Albert Bushnell Hart, LL.D.: "The 'Crisis' [sixteen numbers], written by Paine between 1776 and 1783, exercised an enormous influence over men and events during the Revolution."
Albert Payson Terhune: "He plunged, heart and soul, into the struggle for freedom. His 'Common Sense' and other pamphlets [the 'Crisis'] were such strong and eloquent pleas for liberty that Washington ordered some of them read aloud to the patriot armies."
National Cyclopedia of American Biography: "Its [the 'Crisis'] initial number was, by the order of General Washington, read aloud to each regiment and to each detachment."
William S. Stryker: "The effect of its strong patriotic sentences was apparent upon the spirits of the army."
George T. Cram: "The whole patriot army was inspirited by it."
Werner's Encyclopedia (Ed. 1899): "Its opening words, 'These are the times that try men's souls,' became a battle cry."
Norman Hapgood, LL.B.: "The last sentence [of the first 'Crisis'] sounds like a prophecy and the first sentence, 'These are the times that try men's souls,' was the watchword [at the battle of Trenton]."
George Lippard: "In the full prime of early manhood, he joins the army of the Revolution; he shares the crust and the cold with Washington and his men; he is with those brave soldiers on the toilsome march, with them by the camp fire, with them in the hour of battle.
"Is the day dark? Has the battle been bloody? Do the American soldiers despair? Hark! that printing press yonder, which moves with the American camp in all its wanderings, is scattering pamphlets through the ranks of the army—pamphlets written by the author-soldier; written sometimes on the head of a drum, or by the midnight fire, or amid the corpses of the dead."
"Such words as these stirred up the starved Continentals to the attack on Trenton, and there in the dawn of that glorious morning, George Washington, standing sword in hand over the dead body of the Hessian Rhol, confessed the magic influence of the author-hero's pen."
"Under that cloud, by Washington's side, was silently at work the force that lifted it. Marching by day, listening to the consultations of Washington and his generals, Paine wrote by the camp fires; the winter storms, the Delaware waves, were mingled with his ink; the half-naked soldiers in their troubled sleep dreaming of their distant homes, the skulking deserter creeping off in the dusk, the pallid face of the heavy-hearted commander, made the awful shadows beneath which was written that leaflet."—Dr. Conway.
Of this work Sir George Trevelyan writes: "The 'Crisis' was an impassioned appeal to arms. That circumstance endowed Paine's glowing rhetoric with a special value in the estimation of Americans. To their mind's eye the little work was adorned by an imaginary frontispiece of a soldier, writing by the watch-fire's light, with his comrades slumbering round him; and it was among those comrades that the author found his warmest admirers and his most convinced disciples."
"These words were fire and warmed the soldiers; they were meat and drink for the famishing; they were clothes for the naked. The soldiers were filled with a courage new and unknown. The battle of Trenton came, and as the soldiers entered that conflict, all down the ranks rang the battle cry, 'These are the times that try men's souls.' The battle was fought and won. The army of the patriots had entered upon a new career. And thus he wrote and wrought to the end of the immortal struggle."—Dr. John E. Roberts.
"In the midnight of Valley Forge the 'Crisis' was the only star that glittered in the broad horizon of despair."—Col. Ingersoll.
"Paine was the real founder of our Republic. Without his 'Common Sense' the independence of the American Colonies never would have been declared; without his 'Crisis' it never could have been won. Without his services this country, like Canada, India, Australia and South Africa, today would be a part of the British Empire.
"We would undoubtedly be under British rule today but for the wise and wonderful efforts of Thomas Paine.''—Ella Wheeler Wilcox.
"Paine's title as the discoverer and inventor of the United States is just as plain as Watt's invention of the steam engine, and everything that has taken place as a result of organizing the United States of America is the result of Thomas Paine's labors."—Rev. Thomas R. Slicer, D.D.
Timothy Matlack (Oct. 10, 1777): "The Honorable House of Assembly has proposed and Council has adopted a plan of obtaining more regular and constant intelligence of the proceedings of General Washington's army than has hitherto been had. Every one agrees that you [Paine] are the proper person for the purpose, and I am directed by his Excellency, the President, to write to you.... Proper expresses will be engaged in this business. If the expresses which pass from headquarters to Congress can be made use of so much the better,—of this you must be the judge."
Col. Asa Bird Gardener, LL.D.: "The entire British fleet was then brought up opposite Fort Mifflin, and the most furious cannonade and most desperate but finally unsuccessful defense of the place was made. The entire works were demolished, and the most of the garrison killed and wounded. Major General Greene being anxious for the garrison and desirous of knowing its ability to resist sent Mr. Paine to ascertain. He accordingly went to Fort Mercer, and from thence, on Nov. 9, (1777), went with Col. Christopher Greene commanding Fort Mercer, in an open boat to Fort Mifflin, during the cannonade, and was there when the enemy opened with two gun batteries and a mortar battery. This very gallant act shows what a fearless man Mr. Paine was."
Lippincott's Biographical Dictionary: "He was secretary to the Committee on Foreign Affairs in Congress from April, 1777, to January, 1779."
It has been asserted by Mr. Roosevelt and others that Paine, because of his action in the Deane affair, was discharged from his position as secretary to the Committee on Foreign Affairs. He was not discharged, nor was he even asked to resign. He resigned of his own volition.
Franklin Steiner: "In 1778 a fraud was about to be committed upon the infant republic.... Paine wrote several articles for the press, exposing the entire corrupt transaction, and of course made enemies of all involved in the dishonest affair, who at once made attempts to have him discharged from his position, in which they failed."
"A motion for his dismission was lost."—Dr. Conway.
"Congress refused to vote that it was 'an abuse of office,' or to discharge him."—Ibid.
It was Paine's honesty and patriotism, a desire to protect the interests of his adopted country, that caused him to make his exposure. His "indiscretion," as some diplomats characterized it, saved the Colonies a million livres. Pennsylvania applauded the act and rebuked his censors by appointing him clerk of the Assembly. His whole subsequent career—his continued labors in behalf of the Colonies—the confidence reposed in him by all the people—show that his ability, his integrity, and his patriotism were never questioned.
In less than three years after the Deane affair the members of Congress who had honestly espoused Deane's cause acknowledged the justice and wisdom of Paine's exposure.
John Jay Knox: "In 1780 occurred the darkest days of the Revolutionary War. The army was in great distress.... Thomas Paine, the Clerk in the Pennsylvania Assembly, in a letter to Blair McClenaghan, suggested a subscription for relief of the army and enclosed a contribution of $500.
American Cyclopedia: "A letter [dated May 28, 1780] was received by the Assembly of Pennsylvania from Gen. Washington, saying that, notwithstanding his confidence in the attachment of the army to the cause of the country, he feared their distresses would soon cause mutiny in the ranks. This letter was read by Paine as clerk. A despairing silence pervaded the hall, and the Assembly soon adjourned. Paine wrote to Blair McClenaghan, a merchant of Philadelphia, explaining the urgency of affairs, and enclosed in the letter $500, the amount of salary due him as clerk, as his contribution toward a relief fund. McClenaghan called a meeting next day and read Paine's letter; a subscription list was immediately circulated, and in a short time £300,000 [nearly $1,500,000] Pennsylvania currency was collected. With this as a capital, the Pennsylvania Bank, afterwards expanded into the Bank of North America, was established for the relief of the army."
Cassell's Dictionary of Religion: "In 1781 Paine was sent to France with Col. Laurens to negotiate a loan in which he was more than successful, for the French granted a subsidy of six million livres, and became a guarantor of ten millions advanced by Holland."
Lamartine says the King "loaded Paine with favors." His gift of six millions was "confided to Franklin and Paine."
Robert Morris (Feb. 10, 1782): "They [Morris, Minister of Finance, Livingston, Secretary for Foreign Affairs, and Washington, Commander-in-Chief] are agreed that it will be much for the interest of the United States that Mr. Paine be retained in their [the United States'] service."
Charles Wilson Peale: "Personal acquaintance with him gives me an opportunity of knowing that he had done more for our cause than the world who had only seen his publications could know."
"America is indebted to few characters more than to you."—Gen. Nathaniel Greene.
Calvin Blanchard: "He stood the acknowledged leader of American statesmanship, and the soul of the Revolution, by the proclamation of the legislatures of all the states and that of the Congress of the United States."
Pennsylvania Council (Dec. 6, 1784): "So important were his services during the late contest that those persons whose own merits in the course of it have been the most distinguished concur with a highly honorable unanimity in entertaining sentiments of esteem for him."
"The attention of Pennsylvania is drawn toward Mr. Paine by motives equally grateful to the human heart and reputable to the Republic."
Pennsylvania Assembly: "Thomas Paine did, during the progress of the Revolution, voluntarily devote himself to the service of the public, without accepting recompense therefor, and, moreover, did decline taking or receiving the profits which authors are entitled to on the sale of their literary works, but relinquished them for the better accommodation of the country and the honor of the public cause."
Rev. Dr. M. J. Savage: "He wrote the book which caused the Declaration of Independence, a book in such great demand that the presses groaned for months in endeavoring to supply the demand; a book, the income from the circulation of which, to-day would make a man rich, and yet he steadfastly refused to receive a cent for it."
More than fifty years ago, the Rev. Moncure D. Conway, then pastor of a church in Cincinnati, in a eulogy on Paine, said: "So disinterested was he, that, when his works were printed by the ten thousand, and as fast as one edition was out another was demanded, he, a poor and pinched author, who might very easily have grown rich, would not accept one cent for them, declared that he would not coin his principles, and made to the States a present of the copyrights. His brain was his fortune,—nay his living; he gave it all to American Independence." Paine also gave the copyrights of the several numbers of his "Crisis" to the States. The close of the Revolution found him, to quote from Dr. Conway's biography of Paine, "a penniless patriot who might easily have had fifty thousand pounds in his pocket."
(I shall quote freely from Dr. Conway. For all time this biographer will be the standard authority on Thomas Paine. He was a life-long student of Paine. In each of the three countries which Paine served, America, France and England, he had full access to the national archives of Paine's time. He was a distinguished pulpit orator in both hemispheres, and had a world-wide reputation as a literary man. Above all his love of truth and justice and His rugged honesty and candor make him a witness whose testimony is unimpeachable. To him Andrew Carnegie pays this tribute: "He has passed, but he has left behind him a precious legacy to all who were so fortunate as to be able to call him friend. They are better men and women because Moncure Conway lived and entered into their lives.")
United States Congress (Aug. 26, 1785): "Resolved, That the early, unsolicited, and continued labors of Mr. Thomas Paine, in explaining and enforcing the principles of the late Revolution by ingenious and timely publications upon the nature of liberty and civil government have been well received by the citizens of these States, and merit the approbation of Congress."
This resolution was passed by a unanimous vote.
Allibone's Dictionary of Authors: "He was rewarded by a donation from Congress of $3,000."
"In 1782, at the suggestion of Washington, Congress granted $800 to Paine.... In 1784 the State of New York presented him with 277 acres of land at New Rochelle, and Pennsylvania with £500; and in 1785 Congress gave him $3,000."—International Encyclopedia.
"Some writers have denied his political services, and have declared it impossible that a stranger at the outbreak of the Colonial struggle, he could have influenced public opinion in America; but such should remember that the contemporaries of Paine—and worthy men many of them certainly were who associated with Paine—judged differently, and not only freely circulated his writings but gave expression to their worth,... besides conferring on him the degree of M. A. (Pennsylvania University), and membership in their choicest literary association, the American Philosophical Society."—McClintock and Strong's Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Cyclopedia.
"Let it not be supposed that Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, Randolph, and the rest were carried away by a meteor. Deep answers only unto deep."—Dr. Conway.
Drake's Dictionary of American Biography: "His powerful exertions to promote the independence of America constitutes a high claim upon the gratitude of his adopted country."
Ignatius Donnelly: "Paine did a great work during the Revolutionary war in behalf of liberty and deserves to be forever remembered."
McClintock and Strong's Biblical Theological and Ecclesiastical Encyclopedia, to quote again from this standard Christian authority, says: "The truth cannot be withheld that Thomas Paine was one of the most powerful actors in the Revolutionary drama.... His services to his adopted country should not be forgotten."
"As the Tyrtaeus of the Revolution, and it is no exaggeration to style him such, we owe everlasting gratitude to his name and memory."—Rev. Solomon Southwick.
John Spencer Bassett: "History cannot forget that he was an important promoter of the Revolution."
"Paine's brawny arm applied the torch which set the country in a flame, to be extinguished only by the relinquishment of British supremacy; and for this, irrespective of his motives and character, he merits the gratitude of every American."—Gen. William A. Stokes.
"No man rendered grander, service to this country, and no man ought to be more cherished or remembered than Thomas Paine."—Rev. Minot J. Savage, D. D.
Paul Allen: "Those who regard the independence of the United States as a blessing will never cease to cherish the remembrance of Thomas Paine."
"To the welfare of Thomas Paine the Americans are not nor can they be indifferent."—James Monroe.
Hon. Elizur Wright: "It was Thomas Paine, more than any other man, or any other thing, who turned the current of history in the New World."
Rev. John Snyder: "Paine did more than any other single man to create this nation. I simply speak what will some day be the sober judgment of history."
"There was no man in the Colonies who contributed so much to bring the open Declaration of Independence to a crisis as Thomas Paine."—William Howitt.
"He did more for the American cause and for American independence than any other man."—Sir Hiram Maxim.
"Like a magnificent dream the figure of this republic arose in his brain.... The result was victory; and Thomas Paine, the dreamer, the writing soldier, had done more than any other man to make this country free, and to give it a place among the nations of the world."—Marshall J. Gaumn.
"He was the real founder of the American republic."—Henry Frank.
"He wrote the word 'Independence,' and created the greatest nation in the world."
Hon. John W. Hoyt, LL.D.: "Thomas Paine inspired the Revolution by his spirit, maintained it when in the darkest hours of the battle it seemed that the spark of liberty would go out."
Dr. J. R. Monroe: "With the wand of his genius he turned aside the scroll that concealed the future of our country, and by the inspiring picture he thus presented our disheartened and hard-pressed forefathers were nerved to press forward, to brave every peril, to dare every danger, to defy every death, till tyranny was throttled and man was free."
Rev. Martin K. Schermerhorn: "When our children's children shall celebrate America's second centennial a hundred years from now, they will write in largest letters upon their national banner this sentence which all intelligent American citizens will then enthusiastically recognize and applaud: 'Thomas Paine—the Patriot... of two hundred years ago.'"
Stephen Simpson: "To the genius of Thomas Paine as a popular writer, and to that of George Washington as a prudent, skillful, and consummate general, are the American people indebted for their rights, liberty and independence."
Mrs. Hypatia Bradlaugh-Bonner: "With Washington he played the foremost part in the American Revolution. If Washington was the sword and the strong arm, Paine was the heart and brains of that great struggle. He was the mouth-piece of the aspirations of a continent. He dared to utter the thoughts that lay concealed in the secret hearts of the people. He sounded the demand for the Independence of the Continent. He bound together the separate colonies, and proclaimed 'The Free and Independent States of America.'"
Thomas Paine was the creator of this great Republic. He was the real father of our country; Washington was its foster father. Paine's pen transformed a petty rebellion into a mighty revolution and made a rebel chief the triumphant defender of a new-born nation. Washington's fame is secure. His right to a place in the pantheon of earth's immortals will never be denied. And when the clouds of prejudice are dispelled, as they will be, Paine's name will shine with a splendor unsurpassed, never to be obscured again.
"One of those celebrated foreigners whom the nation ought with eagerness to adopt."—Madame Roland.
M. Cheslay: "He defended in London the principles of the French Revolution."
Brockhaus' Konversatjons-Lexikon: "After he returned to England in 1791 he published his 'Rights of Man.' (translated into many languages) in which he defended the French Revolution against the assaults of Burke."
Porter C. Bliss: "Published, in 1791-92 his 'Rights of Man' [two parts], a vindication of the French Revolution, in reply to Burke, which gave him immense popularity in France and led to a bestowal of citizenship and his election to the French National Convention."
"He was made a French Citizen by the same decree with Washington, Hamilton, Priestley and Sir James Mackintosh."—Joel Barlow.
Nelson's Encyclopedia: "The book was dedicated to Washington, was translated into French and made a, great impression." (The second part was dedicated to Lafayette.)
Edmund Gosse, LL.D.: "The circulation was so enormous that it had a distinct effect in coloring public opinion."
Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography: "His 'Rights of Man,' if the undenied statement as to its circulation (a million and a half of copies is correct) was more largely read in England and France than any other political work ever published."
Chamber's Encyclopedia: "The most famous of all the replies to Burke's 'Reflections on the French Revolution.' A million and a half copies were sold in England alone."
John Hall (London, January, 1792): "Burke's publication has produced nearly fifty different answers. Nothing has ever been so read as Paine's answer."
Edward Baines, LL.D.: "Editions were multiplied in every form and size; it was alike seen in the hands of the noble and the plebeian, and became, at length, translated into the various languages of Europe."
Paris Moniteur (Nov. 8, 1792): "That which will astonish posterity is that at Stockholm, five months after the death of Gustavus, and while the northern Powers are leaguing themselves against the liberty of France, there has been published a translation of Thomas Paine's 'Rights of Man,' the translator being one of the King's secretaries."
The following is a summary of Paine's political philosophy as presented in the "Rights of Man":
1. Government is the organization of the aggregate natural rights which individuals are not competent to secure individually, and therefore surrender to the control of society in exchange for the protection of all rights.
2. Republican government is that in which the welfare of the whole nation is the object.
3. Monarchy is government, more or less arbitrary, in which the interests of an individual are paramount to those of the people generally.
4. Aristocracy is government, partially arbitrary, in which the interests of a class are paramount to the people generally.
5. Democracy is the whole people governing themselves without secondary means.
6. Representative government is the control of a nation by persons elected by the whole nation.
7. The Rights of Man mean the right of all to representation.
Paine advocated a republic (2.) with a representative government (6.). The first real republic with a representative government of importance established in the world was in the United States of America, of which, when religious prejudice passes away, Thomas Paine will be recognized as the founder.
Professor J. B. Bury, LL.D.: "His 'Rights of Man' is an indictment of the monarchical form of government, and a plea for representative democracy."
Terrible but truthful is Paine's indictment of monarchy: "All the monarchical governments are military. War is their trade; plunder and revenue their objects. While such governments continue, peace has not the absolute security of a day. What is the history of all monarchical governments but a disgustful picture of human wretchedness, and the accidental respite of a few years repose. Wearied with war and tired with human butchery, they sat down to rest and called it peace."
This is his conception of an ideal government:
"When it shall be said in any country in the world, 'My poor are happy; neither ignorance nor distress is to be found among them; my jails are empty of prisoners, my streets of beggars; the aged are not in want, the taxes are not oppressive, the rational world is my friend, because I am the friend of its happiness,'—-when these things can be said, then may that country boast of its constitution and its government."
"The political events of our own day—of the present hour—point to the time when the ambitions and the wars of monarchy will be at an end, and when republican peace will reign throughout the world. Then shall the dream of Thomas Paine, the world's greatest citizen of the world, be realized."—Marshall J. Gaitvin.
Washington Irving: "A reprint of Paine's 'Rights of Man,' written in reply to Burke's pamphlet on the French Revolution, appeared [in America] under the auspices of Mr. Jefferson."
In introducing Paine's work to the American people Jefferson, then Secretary of State, said: "I have no doubt our citizens will rally a second time round the standard of 'Common Sense.'"
The Builders of the Nation: "At this time the Republican party as it was called, accepted the views of Jefferson, and as he openly accepted Paine's 'Rights of Man' it followed that the advanced views contained in that book grew to be held measurably as the party tenets of his followers."
Prof. E. D. Adams, Ph. D.: "As a cult [democracy], the theory undoubtedly first found adequate expression amongst us in the writings of Thomas Paine.... In these two books ['Common Sense' and 'Rights of Man'] Paine was then the first to state the ideal of democracy, as it later came to be accepted in America under the leadership of Jefferson."
In a letter to Monroe, referring to the censure he had received for his endorsement of Paine's book, Jefferson says: "I certainly merit the same, for I profess the same principles."
In a letter to Paine (June 19, 1792,) Jefferson says: "Our good people are firm and unanimous in their principles of Republicanism, and there is no better proof of it than that they love what you write and read it with delight."
James Madison declared the "Rights of Man" to be "a written defense of the principles on which that [our] Government is based."
For our so-called Jeffersonian Democracy we are indebted to Thomas Paine. He formulated its principles. Jefferson, Madison and others of his disciples popularized them.
After commending the "Rights of Man" Richard Henry Lee wrote: "I sincerely regret that our country could not have offered sufficient inducements to have retained as a permanent citizen a man so thoroughly republican in sentiment and fearless in the expression of his opinions."
In his book, one of the most brilliant volumes ever penned, Burke, long the friend of popular government, defended royalty and aristocracy. He sought to arouse the sympathies of Europe in behalf of royalty and aristocracy in France which were tottering to their fall, a disaster which endangered their existence everywhere. The book was circulated by tens of thousands. Captivated by its marvelous beauty a reaction in favor of despotism was setting in when Paine's immortal work appeared. The glowing rhetoric of Burke went down before the merciless logic of Paine.
Burke is filled with sorrow for the French king and nobles whose rule and privileges have been abolished or restricted, but expresses none for the millions who for centuries have been persecuted, impoverished and imprisoned by the ruling classes. In words that come from the heart of the author and which reach the hearts of the people, Paine answers him:
"Not one glance of compassion, not one commiserating reflection, that I can find throughout his book, has he bestowed on those that lingered out the most wretched of lives; a life without hope, in the most miserable of prisons. It is painful to behold a man employing his talents to corrupt himself. Nature has been kinder to Mr. Burke than he has been to her. He is not affected by the reality of distress touching upon his heart, but by the showy resemblance of it striking his imagination. He pities the plumage, but forgets the dying bird. Accustomed to kiss the aristocratic hand that hath purloined him from himself, he degenerates into a composition of art, and the genuine soul of nature forsakes him. His hero or his heroine must be a tragedy-victim, expiring in show, and not the real prisoner of misery, sliding into death in the silence of a dungeon."
Referring to this intellectual combat William Cobbett, one of England's most distinguished political writers, writing more than a quarter of a century after Paine's reply to Burke, says: "As my Lord Grenville introduced the name of Burke, suffer me, my Lord, to introduce that of a man who put this Burke to shame, who drove him off the public stage to seek shelter in the pension list, and who is now named fifty million times where the name of the pensioned Burke is mentioned once."
Lord John Morley: "Thomas Paine replied to them [Burke's 'Reflections'] with an energy, courage and eloquence worthy of his cause in the 'Rights of Man.'"
"In brilliant rhetoric Burke argued its [Natural Rights] dangerous and baseless nature.. Paine in his even more brilliant 'Rights of Man,' answered Burke."—Encyclopedia of Social Reform.
Thomas Campbell: "He strongly answered at the bar of public opinion all the arguments of Burke. I do not deny that fact; and I should be sorry if I could be blind, even with tears in my eyes for Mackintosh, to the services that have been rendered to the cause of truth by the shrewdness and courage of Thomas Paine."
(Great events inspire great works. Three of the masterpieces of literature were inspired by the French Revolution, Edmund Burke's "Reflections on the French Revolution" condemning it, and Sir James Mackintosh's "Vindiciæ Gallicæ" and Thomas Paine's "Rights of Man" defending it.)
Dictionary of National Biography (England): "Paine is the only English writer who exposes with uncompromising sharpness the abstract doctrines of political rights held by the French Revolutionists."
Charles James Fox: "It ['Rights of Man'] seems as clear and as simple as the first rules of arithmetic."
Manchester Constitutional Society (March 13, 1792): "A work of the highest importance to every nation under heaven, but particularly to this, as containing excellent and practical plans for an immediate and considerable reduction of the public expenditure; for the prevention of wars; for the extension of our manufactures and commerce; for the education of the young; for the comfortable support of the aged; for the better maintenance of the poor."
Sheffield Society for Constitutional Information (March 14, 1792): "We have derived more true knowledge from the two works of Thomas Paine, entitled 'Rights of Man,' Parts First and Second, than from any other author. The practice as well as the principle of government is laid down in those works in a manner so clear and irresistibly convincing."
James Anthony Froude: "Copies of Paine's 'Rights of Man' were sown broadcast [in Ireland]."
"Protestant Belfast had declared itself a disciple of Paine."
"The Irish patriots were red republicans... anxious to establish in Ireland the principles of Paine."
"Paine," says his biographer, Dr. Conway, "held a supremacy in the constitutional clubs of England and Ireland equal to that of Robespierre over the Jacobins of Paris."
William Pitt (to Lady Hester Stanhope, who had quoted from the "Rights of Man"): "Paine is quite in the right, but what am I to do?"
Sir James Mackintosh: "His bold speculations and fierce invectives indicated the approach of social confusion."
Prof. G. P. Gooch, M.A.: "The 'Rights of Man,' compelled attention not less by the novelty of its ideas than by its consummate pamphleteering skill.... The alarm increased when it was known that the book was selling by tens of thousands."
Diccionaris Enciclopedico (Spain): "The friends of the Government burned Paine in effigy in the streets of London. Later he was proclaimed the great apostle of liberty and the father of the Revolution."
Gouverneur Morris: "Bonnville is here [Paris]. He is just returned from England. He tells me that Paine's book works mightily in England."
Louis Blanc: "The militia were armed, in the southeast of England troops received orders to march to London, the meeting of Parliament was advanced forty days, the Tower was reinforced by a new garrison, in fine there was enrolled a formidable preparation of war—against Thomas Paine's book on the 'Rights of Man.'"
H. D. Traill, D.C.L.: "Paine's book on the 'Rights of Man' was known to have an enormous circulation, and he was prosecuted for it under the proclamation of May, 1792. Paine's counsel argued in vain that it had never been held criminal to express opinions on the problems of political philosophy.... Paine was condemned."
"He was defended by Erskine, who was then in the zenith of his glory as an advocate, in a speech of marvelous power and eloquence."—Hon. E. B. Washburne.
J. Redman ("London, Tuesday, Dec. 18, 1792, 5 P.M."): "Mr. Paine's trial is this instant over. Erskine shone like the morning star. The instant Erskine closed his speech the venal jury [it was a packed jury] interrupted the Attorney General, who was about to make reply, and without waiting for any answer, or any summing up by the Judge, pronounced him guilty. Such an instance of infernal corruption is scarcely upon record."
Paine's case was set for June, 1792, and he was anxious to go to trial then. At the request of the Government it was postponed till December. In the meantime Paine, having been elected to the National Convention, went to France. Had he remained in England death or a long imprisonment would have been his fate, the charge against him being high treason.
Alexander Gilchrist: "On Paine's rising to leave [he had delivered a radical address in London the night before], Blake [William] laid his hand on the orator's shoulder, saying, 'You must not go home, or you are a dead man,' and he hurried him off on his way to France.... Those were hanging days in England."
Dr. James Currie (1793): "The prosecutions that are commenced all over England against printers, publishers, etc., would astonish you; and most of these are for offenses committed months ago. The printer of the Manchester Herald has had... six different indictments for selling or disposing of six different copies of Paine—all previous to the trial of Paine. The man was opulent, supposed worth £20,000; but these different actions will ruin him, as they were intended to do."
The trial of Paine was followed by a veritable reign of terror in England. Alluding to the prosecutions and persecutions of the publishers and venders of Paine's books, Buckle, in his "History of Civilization," says: "It is no exaggeration to say that for some years England was ruled by a system of absolute terror."
It was over the writings of Thomas Paine chiefly, his "Rights of Man" at first and later his "Age of Reason," that the battle for free speech and a free press in England was fought and won. In this great struggle England's gifted statesman, Charles James Fox, whom Edmund Burke describes as "the greatest debater the world ever saw," and whom Sir James Mackintosh declares to De "the most Demosthenian speaker since Demosthenes," ably and fearlessly upheld the rights of Paine and the disseminators of his writings and teachings. In this struggle the poet Shelley, too, did valiant work.
Richard Carlile: "It is not too much to say that if the 'Rights of Man' had obtained two or three years' free circulation in England and Scotland, it would have produced a similar effect to that which 'Common Sense' did in the United States."
Sir Francis Burdett: "Ministers know that a united people are not to be resisted; and it is this that we must understand by what is written in the works of an honest man too long calumniated. I mean Thomas Paine."
M. Brissot: "The grievance of the British Cabinet against France is not that Louis is in judgment, but that Thomas Paine wrote the 'Rights of Man'."
Abbe Sieyes: "His 'Rights of Man,' translated into our language, is universally known; and where is the patriotic Frenchman who has not already, from the depths of his soul, thanked him for having fortified our cause with all the power of his reason and his reputation."
"Paine's 'Rights of Man'," says Dr. Conway, "had been in every French home. His portrait, painted by Romney and engraved by Sharp, was in every cottage, framed in immortelles." Napoleon Bonaparte said: "I always sleep with the 'Rights of Man' beneath my pillow." Hon. Elihu B. Washburne, Minister of the United States to France during President Grant's administration, and later a prominent candidate for president of the United States himself, in a monograph on Thomas Paine, says: "He at once became a hero in France, and was everywhere received with enthusiasm. The doors of the salons and clubs of Paris were opened to him, and he was soon recognized as one of the advanced figures in the Revolution, standing by the side of de Bonneville, Brissot and Condorcet."
It is a commonly accepted opinion that the French Revolution was inspired chiefly by the writings of Rousseau and Voltaire. Hardly less potent, however, were Paine's "Rights of Man," published at the beginning of the Revolution, and his "Common Sense," which electrified France fifteen years before. Referring to these French writings and the "Rights of Man," Dr. Conway says: "In this book the philosophy of visionary reformers took practical shape. From the ashes of Rousseau's 'Contrat Social,' burnt in Paris, rose the 'Rights of Man,' no phoenix, but an eagle of the new world, with eye not blinded by any royal sun. It comes to tell how by union of France and America—of Lafayette and Washington—the 'Contrat Social' was framed into the Constitution of a happy and glorious new earth."
Charles Knight: "In the week of the flight of Louis [June, 1791] Paine wrote in English a proclamation to the French nation, which, being translated, was affixed to all the walls of Paris. It was an invitation to the people to profit by existing circumstances, and establish a Republic."
Ida M. Tarbell: "Brissot brought several of his friends to see them [the Rolands]. Among the most important of these were Petion and Robespierre. In April 1791 Thomas Paine appeared. So agreeable were these informal reunions found to be that it was arranged to hold them four times a week.... To Madame Roland these gatherings were of absorbing interest."
"With Condorcet, Brissot, and a few others as sympathizers, Paine formed a Republican society."
Justin H. McCarthy: "The prospectus of a journal called Le Republicaine was posted at the very doors of the General Assembly. It was signed by Duchatellet, a colonel of Chasseurs, but is said to have been drawn up by Thomas Paine."
Etienne Dumont: "Some of the seed sown by the audacious hand of Paine were now budding in leading minds."
Meyers' Gross Konversations-Lexikon: "In Paris Paine was declared a French citizen and was elected to the National Convention by the department of Pas-de-Calais."
La Grande Encyclopédie: "Declared a French citizen by the National Assembly, he was elected a member of the Convention by the departments of l'Oise, the Puy-de-Dome and the Pas-de-Calais."
H. Morse Stephens, LL.D.: "Paine, one of the founders of the American Republic, was elected by no less than three departments to the Convention."
M. Louvet (and thirty-two others): "Your love for humanity, for liberty and equality, the useful works that have issued from your pen in their defense, have determined our choice. It has been hailed with universal and reiterated applause. Come friend of the people, to swell the number of patriots in an Assembly which will decide the destiny of a great people, perhaps of the human race."
Biographie Universelle: "Amid salvos of artillery and cries of 'Vive Thomas Paine!' his arrival was announced."
Cates' Biographical Dictionary: "The garrison of Calais were under arms to receive this friend of liberty. The tri-colored cockade was presented to him by the mayor, and the handsomest woman in the town was selected to place it in his hat."
W. T. Sherwin: "The hall of the Minimes [in Calais] was so crowded that it was with the greatest difficulty they made way for Mr. Paine to the side of the president. Over the chair he sat in was placed the bust of Mirabeau, and the colors of France, England, and America united. A speaker acquainted him from the tribune with his election, amid the plaudits of the people. For some minutes after the ceremony nothing was heard but 'Vive la Nation! Vive Thomas Paine!'"
"Ancient Calais, in its time, had received heroes from across the channel, but hitherto never with joy. That honor the centuries reserved for a Thetford Quaker. As the packet sails in a salute is fired from the battery; cheers sound along the shore. As the representative for Calais steps on French soil soldiers make his avenue, the officers embrace him, the national cockade is presented. A beautiful lady advances, requesting the honor of setting the cockade in his hat, and makes him a pretty speech, ending with Liberty, Equality and France. As they move along the Rue de l'Egalité (late Rue du Roi) the air rings with 'Vive Thomas Paine'! At the town hall he is presented to the Municipality, by each member embraced, by the Mayor also addressed. At the meeting of the Constitutional Society of Calais, in the Minimes, he sits beside the president, beneath the bust of Mirabeau and the united colors of France, England and America. There is an official ceremony announcing his election, and plaudits of the crowd, 'Vive la Nation! Vive Thomas Paine!'"—Dr. Conway.
Rev. Francis L. Hawkes, LL.D.: "Meantime Paine had been declared in Paris worthy of citizenship, and he proceeded thither, where he was received with every demonstration of extravagant joy."
"The ovation which Paine received on his arrival in France was one such as theretofore only kings had received."—Theodore Schroeder.
Hérault de Sechelles, (President of National Assembly): "France calls you, Sir, to its bosom to fill the most useful, and consequently the most honorable of functions—that of contributing, by wise legislation, to the happiness of a people whose destinies interest and unite all who think and all who suffer in the world.
"It is meet that the nation which proclaimed the Rights of Man should desire to have him among its legislators who first dared to measure all their consequences."
Philip Van Ness Myers, LL.D.: "The Convention, consisting of seven hundred and forty-nine deputies, among whom was the celebrated freethinker, Thomas Paine, embraced two active groups, the Girondins and the Mountainists [Jacobins]."
Alphonse de Lamartine: "A stranger sat among the members of the Convention—the philosopher, Thomas Paine, born in England, the apostle of American independence, the friend of Franklin, author of 'Common Sense,' the 'Rights of Man,' and the 'Age of Reason'—three pages of the New Evangelist in which he brought back political institutions and religious creeds to their primitive justice and lucidity; his name possessed great weight among the innovators of the two worlds."
"Everyone," says Paul Desjardins, "turned toward Paine as toward the living statue of liberty. The enfranchisement of America consecrated him."
The official reports of the National Convention state that when Paine arose in the Convention and cast his vote for its first decree the act was received by "acclamations of joy, the cries of Vive la nation! repeated by all the spectators, prolonging themselves for many minutes!"
Referring to this Convention, the Hon. E. B. Washburne says: "Never was there a legislative or constituent body which displayed such stupendous energy or performed such immense labor. In the delirium of its passions it stamped itself on the history of the world not only by its crimes, but by its great acts of legislation, which will live as long as France shall endure. Thomas Paine was a member of this Convention. His popularity in France at this time is shown by the fact that he was chosen a member of the Convention by three departments.
"The Convention was not long in giving Paine a striking recognition of the consideration in which it held him. One of its earliest decrees was to establish a special Commission (committee) of nine members on the Constitution. This Commission was composed of the most distinguished men of the Convention: Gensonne, Thomas Paine, Brissot, Petion, Vergniaud, Barrere, Danton, Condorcet, and the Abbe Sieyes."
Louis Adolphus Thiers: "A sixth committee was charged with the principal object for which the Convention had met, to prepare a new constitution. It was composed of nine celebrated members. Philosophy had its representatives in the persons of Sieyes, Condorcet, and the American Thomas Paine, recently elected a French citizen, and a member of the Convention. The Gironde was more particularly represented by Gensonne, Vergniaud, Petion, and Brissot; the Centre by Barrere, and the Montagne by Danton."
The names of these eminent men will live long in history; but dear was the price paid for their fame. Danton, Brissot, Gensonne and Vergniaud died on the scaffold; Condorcet died in a prison cell, a suicide; Petion escaped to a forest where his body was afterward found partly devoured by wolves; Barrere was banished, and Paine was imprisoned. Sieyes alone escaped unharmed.
Thomas Carlyle: "To make the Constitution; to defend the Republic till that be made. Speedily enough, accordingly, there has been a Committee of Constitution got together. Sieyes, old constituent, constitution builder by trade; Condorcet, fit for better things; Deputy Paine, foreign benefactor of the species with the black beaming eyes;... Hérault de Sechelles, ex-parlementier, one of the handsomest men in France,—these, with inferior guild-brethren, are girt cheerfully to the task." (Hérault was a supplementary member of the Committee).
John King (referring to Paine): "The chief modeler of their new Constitution."
The Constitution was almost entirely the work of Paine and Condorcet. It is known as the Paine-Condorcet Constitution.
Dr. David Saville Muzzey: "Paine labored to make this new republic of France an example for the monarchy-cursed countries of Europe. It was he who protested against the domination of the Assembly by the section of Paris which led to the Reign of Terror."
M. Taine: "Compared with the speeches and writings of the times, it [Paine's Letter to Danton] produces the strangest effect by its practical good sense."
Madame de Stael: "When the sentence of Louis XVI. came under discussion Paine alone advised what would have done honor to France if it had been adopted."
Henri Martin: "Thomas Paine, the famous representative of the idea of a universal Republic, had voted against both an appeal to the people and the penalty of death."
Thomas Wright, F. S. A.: "He urged with great earnestness that the execution of the sentence of death should be delayed."
M. Guizot: "The last effort was about to be attempted to save the life of the King by delaying execution. The anger of the Jacobins was extreme; they refused to listen to a speech from Thomas Paine, the American, till respect for his courage gained him a hearing.... The prayer and the hope were as vain as they were affecting."
Hon. Elihu B. Washburne: "It was on the 19th day of January, 1793, that Paine mounted the tribune to speak to this question. This trial of Louis XVI. by the National Convention is one of the most remarkable on record. The session was made permanent, and the trial went on day and night. After a lapse of nearly one hundred years, the painful and dramatic scenes stand out with still greater prominence. The Salle des Machines, in the Pavillon de Flores at the Tuileries, had been converted into a grand hall for the sittings of the Convention. The galleries were immense and could seat fourteen hundred spectators. In an immense city like Paris, convulsed with a political excitement never equaled, the trial of a king for his life produced the most profound emotions that ever agitated any community. All classes and conditions were carried away by the prevailing excitement, and the pressure for places exceeded anything ever known.
"The appearance of Thomas Paine at the tribune, with a roll of manuscript in his hand, created a sensation in the Convention. By his side stood Bancal, who was there to translate the speech into French and read it to the Convention. The first declaration of the celebrated foreigner produced a commotion on the benches of the Montagne. Coming from a democrat like Thomas Paine, a man so intimately allied with the Americans, a great thinker and writer, there was fear of their influence on the Convention.
"The most violent exclamations broke out, drowning the voice of Bancal, the unfortunate interpreter, and creating an indescribable tumult. Never was a man in a more embarrassing condition than Paine was at this time. Though not understanding the language, he yet realized the fury of the storm which raged around him. Standing at the tribune in his half Quaker coat, and genteelly attired, he remained undaunted and self-possessed during the tempest. This speech of Paine breathed greatness of soul and generosity of spirit and will forever honor his memory."
Paine's speech, says Conway, is "unparalleled for argument and art and eloquence."
Charlotte M. Yonge: "A brave remonstrance."
Hon. Thomas E. Watson: "Among the brave who would not bend to the storm was Thomas Paine. Man enough to defy kings and priests, he was man enough, likewise, to defy a howling mob."
E. Belford Bax: "Paine, up to the last, manfully voted in the sense in which he had always spoken, for the life of the king at the imminent risk of his own."
Writing of the events which preceded and attended the trial and execution of Louis XVI, Prince Talleyrand, a profound admirer of Paine, says: "It was no longer a question that the king should reign, but that he himself, the queen, their children, his sister, should be saved. It might have been done. It was at least a duty to attempt it." It was a duty, however, whose performance carried with it the probable penalty of death. Danton, France's greatest and bravest son, wished to save the life of the king, but dared not to vote in favor of it. "Although I may save his life," he said, "I shall vote for his death. I am quite willing to save his head, but not to lose my own." Even the king's cousin, Philip of Orleans, voted for his kinsman's death. Paine did not shirk his duty. He, too, loved life, but he loved honor more, and so, defying death, voted and pleaded for the life of the fallen monarch.
"Ah, that man who stood there alone in that breathless hall with such mighty eloquence warming over his lofty brow! That man was one of that illustrious band who had been made citizens of France—France the redeemed and newborn! Yess with Mackintosh, Franklin, Hamilton, Jefferson and Washington, he had been elected a citizen of France. With these great men he hailed the French revolution as the dawn of God's millennium. He had hurried to Paris, urged by the same deep love of man that accompanied him in the darkest hours of the American revolution, and there, there pleading for the traitor-king, alone in that breathless hall he stood, the author-hero, Thomas Paine, pleading—even amid that sea of scowling faces—for the life of King Louis."—George Lippard.
"In that maelstrom of thought, in that pandemonium of words, in that whirlwind of passion, pleading for the life of the king, Thomas Paine, not counting his own life, well knowing the consequences of his act, Thomas Paine stood there and pleaded that the life of the king might be spared."—Dr. J. E. Roberts.
A. F. Bertrand de Moleville (French Minister of State): "It must be recorded to the eternal shame of this assembly, that Thomas Paine... proved himself the wisest, the most humane, the boldest—in a word, the most innocent among them."
Victor Hugo: "Thomas Paine, an American and merciful."
"When tidings came of the king's trial and execution, whatever glimpses they [Paine's adherents in England] gained of their outlawed leader showed him steadfast as a star caught in one wave and another of that turbid tide. Many, alas, needed apologies, but Paine required none. That one Englishman, standing on the tribune for justice and humanity, amid three hundred angry Frenchmen in uproar, was as sublime a sight as Europe witnessed in those days."—Dr. Conway.
"The rank and file followed their Thomas Paine with a faith that crowned heads might envy. The London men knew Paine thoroughly. The treasures of the world would not draw him, nor any terrors drive him, to the side of cruelty and inhumanity. Their eye was upon him. Had Paine, after the king's execution, despaired of the republic there might have ensued some demoralization among his followers in London. But they saw him by the side of the delivered prisoner of the Bastile, Brissot, an author well known in England, by the side of Condorcet and others of Franklin's honored circle engaged in a death struggle with the fire-breathing dragon called 'The Mountain.' That was the same unswerving man they had been following, and to all accusations against the revolution their answer was—Paine is still there."—Ibid.
While Paine allied himself to no particular faction of the convention, his sympathies were with the Girondins. Lamartine says: "Paine, the friend of Madame Roland, Condorcet and Brissot, had been elected by the town of Calais; the Girondins consulted him and placed him on the committee of surveyance." The Girondins comprised, for the most part, the wisest and the best of France's legislators. Had they remained in power the excesses of the revolution would, to a great extent, have been avoided. But in an evil hour the Jacobins gained the ascendancy and while they ruled madness reigned supreme. The Girondins were slaughtered or expelled. In one night twenty-two of them—every one a noted statesman or orator—the very flower of French manhood, "the eloquent, the young, the beautiful, the brave," as Riouffe, their fellow prisoner, lovingly describes them, were taken before a Jacobin tribunal and condemned to death. Carlyle thus graphically and pathetically tells us how they died:
"All Paris is out; such a crowd as no man had seen. The death-carts, Valaze's cold corpse [he had committed suicide] stretched among the yet living twenty-one, roll along. Bareheaded, hands bound, in their shirt sleeves, coat flung loosely round the neck; so fare the eloquent of France; bemurmured, beshouted. To the shouts of Vive la Republique, some of them keep answering with counter shouts of Vive la Republique. Others, as Brissot, sit sunk in silence. At the foot of the scaffold they again strike up, with appropriate variations, the hymn of the Marseilles. Such an act of music; conceive it well! The yet living chant there; the chorus so rapidly wearing weak! Samson's axe is rapid; one head per minute, or a little less. The chorus is wearing weak; the chorus is worn out; farewell, forevermore, ye Girondins. Te-Deum Fauchet has become silent; Valaze's dead head is lopped; the sickle of the guillotine has reaped the Girondins all away."
"How Paine loved those men—Brissot, Condorcet, Lasource, Duchatel, Vergniaud, Gensonne! Never was man more devoted to his intellectual comrades. Even across a century one may realize what it meant to him, that march of his best friends to the scaffold."—Dr. Conway.
Eight days after the execution of the Girondins another of Paine's friends, Madame Roland, the "Inspiring Soul" of the Girondins—one of the greatest, one of the fairest, one of the bravest, and one of the noblest women that ever came to brighten our planet—died on the same scaffold. Beautiful in life, Madame Roland rose to sublimity in death. Standing on the scaffold, robed in white, she seemed like a lovely bride before the altar. She asked for pen and paper to record "the strange thoughts that were rising in her" as she gazed into the eyes of death. This request denied, she turned toward the statue of liberty and, with tearful eyes, exclaimed, "O Liberty, what crimes are committed in thy name!" Then, seeing the one who was to have preceded her to the guillotine trembling with fear, she begged and obtained permission to take his place—to die first—that she might soften the terrors of death by showing him "how easy it is to die." This is her picture—painted by Carlyle: "Noble white vision, with its high queenly face, its soft proud eyes, long black hair flowing down to the girdle; and as brave a heart as ever beat in woman's bosom! Like a white Grecian statue, serenely complete, she shines in that black wreck of things;—long memorable."
"What with the arrestations and flights Paine found himself, in June, almost alone. In the convention he was sometimes the solitary figure left on the plain, where but now sat the brilliant statesmen of France. They, his beloved friends, have started in procession towards the guillotine, for even flight must end there; daily others are pressed into their ranks; his own summons, he feels, is only a question of a few weeks or days."—Dr. Conway.
Madame Roland died in November; Paine was imprisoned in December.
Dictionary of Religious Knowledge: "Here [trial of Louis XVI] his honorable moderation won the enmity of Robespierre, who marked him for a victim."
Scheaf's Religious Encyclopedia: "He had the courage to vote against the execution of Louis XVI., and thus incurred the anger of Robespierre, who threw him into prison."
Chambers' Encyclopedia of English Literature: "He offended the Robespierre faction, and in 1794 [December 28, 1793], possibly by the procurement of the American minister, Gouverneur Morris—who disliked the French revolution and the alliance between the new republics—he was imprisoned."
Col. Thomas W. Higginson: "They urged him (he was in personal danger) to go back to America, the country he had served so long. 'Go there,' they said; 'it is your country,' 'No,' he said, 'for the time, this is my country.'... So said Thomas Paine, and the doors of the Bastile closed around him."
Rev. John W. Chadwick: "A prisoner deserted by the young Republic at whose birth he had assisted so efficiently, his life in jeopardy for the humanity of his opinions."
Morning Advertiser (England, Feb. 8, 1794): "His arrest was a species of triumph to all the tyrants on earth. His papers had been examined, and far from finding any dangerous propositions the committee had traced only the characters of that burning zeal for liberty—of that eloquence of nature and philosophy—and of those principles of public morality which had through life procured him the hatred of despots and the love of his fellow citizens."
"His arrest and imprisonment, without charges preferred or even the pretense of crime, were acts of perfidy without a parallel except in the history of the French revolution."—Hon. E. B. Washburne.
Major W. Jackson (and other Americans in Paris): "As a countryman of ours, as a man above all so dear to the Americans; who like ourselves are earnest friends of liberty, we ask you in the name of that goddess cherished by the only two republics of the world, to give back Thomas Paine to his brethren."
Achille Audibert: "A friend of mankind is groaning in chains—Thomas Paine.... But for Robespierre's villainy the friend of man would now be free."
At the beginning of the revolution Robespierre was recognized as one of the most moderate and humane of men. In the National Assembly he advocated the abolition of the death penalty. Describing his advent to leadership, Paine's biographer says: "Mirabeau was on his deathbed, and Paine witnessed that historic procession, four miles long, which bore the orator to his shrine.... With others he strained his eyes to see the coming man; with others he sees formidable Danton glaring at Lafayette; and presently sees advancing softly between them the sentimental, philanthropic—Robespierre."
M. Danton: "What thou hast done for the happiness and liberty of thy country I have in vain attempted to do for mine. They are sending us to the scaffold."
"It was a strange scene; these two constitution makers, Paine and Danton, and for the last time in the prison of the Luxembourg, both equally destined for the scaffold."—Hon. E. B. Washburne.
Danton was taken to the guillotine; Paine, by mistake, was left.
The manner of Paine's escape, as related by Carlyle, was as follows: "The tumbrils move on. But in this set of tumbrils there are two other things notable: one notable person; and one want of a notable person. The notable person is Lieu-tenant-General Loiserelles, a nobleman by birth and by nature; laying down his life for his son. In the prison of Saint-Lazare, the night before last, hurrying to the grate to hear the death-list read, he caught the name of his son. The son was asleep at the moment. 'I am Loiserelles,' cried the old man.... The want of the notable person, again, is that of Deputy Paine! Paine has set in the Luxembourg since January; and seemed forgotten; but Fouquier had pricked him at last. The turnkey, list in hand, is marking with chalk the outer doors of to-morrow's fournee. Paine's outer door happened to be open, turned back on the wall; the turnkey marked it on the side next him, and hurried on; another turnkey came and shut it; no chalkmark now visible, the fournee went without Paine. Paine's life lay not there."
In a letter to Washington, Paine thus narrates the inhuman slaughter of his fellow-prisoners, from whose fate he so narrowly escaped: "The state of things in the prisons [for over four months] was a continued scene of horror. No man could count upon life for twenty-four hours. To such a pitch of rage and suspicion were Robespierre and his committee arrived, that it seemed as if they feared to leave a man to live. Scarcely a night passed in which ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty or more were not taken out of the prison, carried before a pretended tribunal in the morning, and guillotined before night. One hundred and sixty-nine were taken out of the Luxembourg one night in July, and one hundred and sixty of them guillotined, of whom I know I was to have been one. A list of two hundred more, according to the report in the prison, was preparing a few days before Robespierre fell. In this last list I have good reason to believe I was included."
Concerning this reign of terror Guizot says: "Two thousand four hundred prisoners were registered in Paris on the books of the prison, at the moment of the deaths of the Girondins; three [four] months later, on the 1st of March, 1794, the number reached six thousand; on the 2d of May, eight thousand unfortunate persons waited for death. From June 10th to July 27th, two thousand, two hundred and eighty-five perished on the scaffold." (History of France, Vol. VI, pp. 178, 196.) Menzies says: "The queen, Marie Antoinette, her sister, Madame Elizabeth, Bailly, the Girondin chiefs, the Duke of Orleans, General Custine, Madame Roland, Lavoisier, Malesherbes, and a thousand other illustrious heads fell by the guillotine."
"The light of burning rafters flashed luridly over scenes of blood; soon all that is grotesque, or terrible, or loathsome in murder, was enacted in the streets of Paris. The lantern posts bore their ghastly fruit; the streets flowed with crimson rivers, the life-blood of ten thousand hearts, down even to the waters of the Seine. Lafayette and Paine and all the heroes were gone from the councils of France, but in their place, aye, in the place of poetry, enthusiasm and eloquence, spoke a mighty orator—King Guillotine."—George Lippard.
With Danton died another of Paine's cherished friends—Hérault de Sechelles. Hérault, president of the National Assembly, and, for a time, president of the National Convention, was the first to welcome Paine to Paris when he came to take his seat in the convention. He was physically and intellectually one of France's most magnificent men. He was a ripe scholar and a superb orator. He possessed great wealth and a most fascinating address. He and Paine and Danton had from the first been members of the Convention; they had served together on the Committee of the Constitution, Hérault as Paine's suppliant, and they had occupied the same prison, the prison set apart for the most illustrious victims of the Revolution. I quote from Washburne. I desire to present one of the ten thousand tragic and pathetic scenes which compose this mighty and immortal drama. "Tragedy walks hand in hand with History and the eyes of Glory are wet with tears:"
"More victims were now demanded, and, at this time, the oldest children of the Revolution were claimed. They were the 'Dantonists,' among whom was included Hérault.... Hérault was unmarried. When imprisoned at the Luxembourg awaiting his trial he appeared sad and preoccupied. On arriving at the guillotine, on the Place de la Revolution on the day of his execution, all his looks were turned toward the hotel of the Garde-Meuble, hoping evidently to exchange glances with one with whom were all his thoughts at that supreme moment. Behind the shutters, half closed, was a beautiful woman who sent to the condemned a last adieu and waved a last sigh of tenderness to the dying man: Je t'aime (I love thee). It was a beautiful day of the springtime, and the crowd that had assembled to witness the execution of Danton, the great Apostle of the Revolution, and his associates was enormous. The splendid figure of Hérault de Sechelles seemed to take new life, and the serenity of courage replaced the inquietude and sadness which had settled upon him. The first one to mount the scaffold, he showed himself calm, resolute and unmoved. As he was about to lay his head under the knife, he wished to present his cheek to the cheek of Danton [their hands were bound], as a last farewell. The aids of Samson, the executioner, prevented it. 'Imbeciles!' indignantly exclaimed Danton, 'it will be but a moment before our heads will meet in the basket in spite of you.'"
"Declared an outlaw by the same Convention which he had so long used as an instrument of his private vengeance, Robespierre was killed like a dog.... The death of Paine's mortal enemy saved his life."—Ibid.
Madame Lafayette: "The news of your being set at liberty,... has given me a moment's consolation in the midst of this abyss of misery."
Madame Lafayette, like Thomas Paine, was a prisoner, daily expecting death. Her mother, grandmother and sister, prominent members of the French nobility, all died together on the scaffold. Lafayette himself was at this time confined in an Austrian dungeon.
Glorious was the freedom born of the French Revolution, but terrible was the travail.
Daniel Coit Gilman, LL.D.: "His [Minister Monroe's] effort to secure the release of Thomas Paine from imprisonment was a noteworthy transaction."
"Released from prison at Monroe's intercession."—Richard Hildreth.
Stanislaus Murray Hamilton: "Paine was liberated by the Committee of General Surety in consequence of Monroe's assertion of his American citizenship, and demand for his release; but he had suffered an imprisonment of ten months and nine days before Monroe's generous and manly aid reached him."
We owe a debt of gratitude to James Monroe.
He rescued Paine from prison and from death. When Paine was thought to be dying, as a result of his imprisonment, the Monroes tenderly cared for him in their own home and nursed him back to life and health. Washington's apparent neglect of Paine, which for nearly a century rested as a deep stain upon an otherwise fair name, filled Paine with astonishment and grief and caused him to write that bitter letter of reproach. It is now known that this seeming indifference of Washington was due to the treachery of Monroe's predecessor, Gouverneur Morris.
A. Outram Sherman: "It is a long story, how his secret instructions conflicted with Paine's hearty and open love for America's ally, how Morris virtually acquiesced in his imprisonment by Robespierre as a foreigner, how Morris misled Washington to believe he had demanded Paine's release as an American, and how he misled Paine to believe that Washington had given no directions that Paine be so reclaimed."
Nelson's Encyclopedia, in its article on Paine, says: "It seems clear that his imprisonment was in part the result of a discreditable intrigue to which Gouverneur Morris, the American minister, was a party."
Madison, in a letter to Jefferson, dated January 10, 1796, referring to Paine's letter to Washington, says: "It appears that the neglect to claim him as an American citizen when confined by Robespierre, or even to interfere in any way whatever in his favor, has filled him with an indelible rancor against the President, to whom it appears he has written on the subject. His letter to me is in the style of a dying one, and we hear that he is since dead of the abscess in his side, brought on by his imprisonment."
Referring to his letter to Washington, Dr. Conway says: "It was the natural outcry of an ill and betrayed man to one whom we now know to have been also betrayed. Its bitterness and wrath measure the greatness of the love that was wounded."
Rev. Eugene Rodman Shippen: "That he was estranged from Washington through the malicious representations of others is one of the sad episodes of our national life."
M. Thibaudeau: "It yet remains for the Convention to perform an act of justice. I reclaim one of the most zealous defenders of liberty—Thomas Paine. My reclamation is for a man who has honored his age by his energy in defense of the rights of humanity, and who is so gloriously distinguished by his part in the American Revolution....I demand that he be recalled to the bosom of this Convention."
"He was unanimously restored to his seat in the Convention."—International Encyclopedia.
Samuel P. Putnam: "Paine was self-centered. He could stand alone, like a mighty rock, with seas and storms breaking upon him. Not Mirabeau, not Danton, shone with a more brilliant genius, nor towered with more rugged strength and grandeur.
"Paine represented the immortal part of the Revolution.... Voltaire emphasized justice, Rousseau emphasized liberty; Paine emphasized both liberty and justice."
One of the strongest proofs of Paine's transcendent greatness is the fact that while nearly all the leaders of the Revolution—even Danton—were swept from their moorings by this volcanic upheaval, Paine's career throughout was characterized by wisdom, moderation, and a moral courage that was truly sublime.
"When France shall lift her banners fair, And brighter hopes shall dawn once more, In counting up her jewels rare She'll not forget the days of yore. For when the name of Lafayette Shall summon others in its train, There's one she never will forget— The author-hero, Thomas Paine."
Prof. Isaac F. Russell, LL.D.: "Paine was one of the immortals who worked for liberty in three countries, America, France and England."
Frederick May Holland: "He sought to establish the rights of man in France and England as well as in America. In two of these three countries his work seemed almost fruitless a hundred years ago; but the nineteenth century has given him as complete a victory in England and France as he achieved in the United States. These three great nations now stand side by side as the bulwarks of freedom."
Hon. George W. Julian: "If any man among the illustrious characters' of 'the times that tried men's souls' is to be singled out as the real father of American Democracy, it is Thomas Paine."
Lord Beaconsfield (to Gladstone): "How does your reform government differ from that of Thomas Paine, except that the sovereign is left in name?"
"Today the student of political history may find... in Paine's ['Rights of Man'] the living Constitution of Great Britain."—Dr. Conway.
Alexander Dumas: "It is not the liberty of France alone that I [Dr. Gilbert, i. e., Paine] dream of; it is the liberty of the whole world."
Alice Hubbard: "England, France and America were made more noble, more intelligent, more civilized, by the work Thomas Paine did for each country and for all countries."
T. B. Wakeman: "The Father of Republics." "All these glories of three great peoples were obtained by revolutions that were fought by a war of feelings and thoughts before they came to arms; and in that primal war of thoughts and words Thomas Paine was the most known of men and the actual leader—the Author Hero."
"The republic—as we now all use that word—the true modern republic, in and by which government based upon the consent of all, and administered by the cooperation of all, for the protection and benefit of all, was not known among men until it was originated by Thomas Paine."
"The so-called 'republics' of antiquity and the Middle Ages were only oligarchies resting upon the slavery or serfdom of the masses, and in fact the reverse of republics."
National Encyclopedia (England): "Paine, from his first starting in public life, was a Republican, uniformly consistent and apparently sincere."
"The Democratic movement of the last eighty years, be it a finality or only a phase of progress toward a more perfect state, is the grand historic fact of modern times, and Paine's name is intimately connected with it."—Atlantic Monthly, July, 1859.
"After contributing by one publication to the establishment of a transatlantic republic in North America, he introduced, with astonishing effect the doctrines of democratic government into the first states of Europe."—Edward Baines, LL.D.
"'Invent printing,' wrote Carlyle, 'and you invent democracy.' Not quite so! Invent a sort of writing which when printed shall be understood by the people, then you invent democracy. And this, earlier and better than any other man, is what Thomas Paine did."—The Nation, London.
"As the champion of popular power in opposition to the abuses of monarchical government, Paine will always stand pre-eminent in the world."—William Cobbett.
Mrs. Marilla M. Ricker: "Thomas Paine dreamed the most glorious dream of human freedom that ever enchanted the mind of man; fairer and sweeter than lay under the broken marbles of Greece, brighter and better than was buried with the dead eagles of Rome."
"Paine stands between two epochs: the epoch of Kings and the epoch of Man. To the King he said, 'The night is coming'; to Man he said, 'The day is dawning.'"
L. K. Washburn: "Paine knew that he was marked for death. What did he do? Did he try to escape? No! He sat down and wrote the 'Age of Reason.'"
Paine found the world cursed with two great evils, kingcraft and priestcraft, twin vultures that from the earliest ages have fed upon the vitals of humanity. In his "Common Sense" and "Rights of Man" kingcraft was dealt the deadliest blows that it has yet received. He had resolved to strike a blow at priestcraft before he died. Seeing imprisonment and death approaching he hurried to his task. The first part of his immortal work was finished six hours before the summons came.
The second part, it is generally believed, was written during his confinement in the Luxembourg. And here, undoubtedly, it was planned and at least a part of it composed. It was probably finished, and it was published, while he lived with James Monroe, after his release from prison. This, briefly, is the history of the conception and birth of this, the last and greatest of Paine's three great intellectual children.
"Just before his arrest he had finished the first part of the 'Age of Reason.'... While in prison he worked upon the second part."—International Encyclopedia.
Encyclopedia Americana: "It [first part] was published in London and in Paris in 1794. On the fall of Robespierre he was released, and in 1795 published at Paris the second part of the 'Age of Reason.'"
Dr. Francois Lanthenas: "I delivered to Merlin de Thionville a copy of the last work of T. Paine, formerly our colleague.... I undertook its translation before the Revolution [Reign of Terror] against priests, and it was published in French about the same time."
People's Cyclopedia: "During his imprisonment he wrote the 'Age of Reason' (second part) against Atheism and against Christianity, and in favor of Deism."
"A second part, written during his ten months' imprisonment, which was published after his release, represents the Deism of the 18th century."—Encyclopedia Britannica.
McClintock and Strong's Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Cyclopedia: "The religion which Paine [in his 'Age of Reason'] proposed to substitute for Christianity was the belief in one God as revealed by science; in immortality as the continuance of conscious existence; in the natural equality of man; and in the obligation of justice and mercy to one's neighbor."
Rufus Rockwell Wilson: "Of all epoch-making books the one most persistently misrepresented and misunderstood."
W. M. van der Weyde: "The total knowledge possessed by many persons concerning Paine is that 'he was an Atheist'—which he was not."
Hon. William J. Gaynor: "What a strange thing it is that that extraordinary man was so long set down as an Atheist. Some people still think that he was an Atheist. And yet no man ever had a fuller belief in the existence of God, or a greater reliance upon him."
Washington Times: "It is not at all difficult to find out whether or not Thomas Paine was an Atheist. All one has to do to discover his opinion on the subject is to go to any bookstore or circulating library, ask for his best known work, the 'Age of Reason,' and read the first page:"'I believe in one God, and no more; and I hope for happiness beyond this life.'"
"He was, in fact, no more an Atheist than William Penn, Roger Williams or Ralph Waldo Emerson."—New York World.
In his "Age of Reason" the recognition of a Supreme Being is made more than two hundred times.
Rev. Daniel Freeman: "There has never been a believer in God if Thomas Paine was not a believer in God."
Rev. Charles Alfred Martin (Roman Catholic): "Thomas Paine while not a Christian, was not an Atheist. His biographers declare that he penned his most famous book to stem with its Deism the tide of Atheism which flooded France at the time of the Revolution."
Major J. Weed Cory: "Thomas Paine was not an Atheist. He wrote against Atheism, and Trinitarians will soon be appealing to his works to prove the existence of a God."
Henry C. Wright: "Thomas Paine had a clear idea of God. This Being embodied his highest conception of truth, love, wisdom, mercy, liberty and power."
"Paine was accursed as an Atheist and hunted and maligned by institutional religion for writing a book in defense of God."—W. M. van der Weyde.
Henry Rowley: "His 'Age of Reason' was written as much in defense of God as in opposition to the church. He could not believe that God was guilty of the cruelties and crimes which the writers of the Bible attributed to him."
"The 'Age of Reason' was the protest of a highly moral man against the doings of a deeply immoral God."
Lucy N. Colman: "Thomas Paine's God was justice."
Bishop Watson: "There is a philosophical sublimity in some of your ideas when speaking of the Creator of the universe."
The work of orthodox religious teachers, unwittingly to many, is confined chiefly to the propagation of fictions and the suppression of facts. The Christian who has been surprised to learn that Paine was not an Atheist, may be equally surprised to learn that his great compeers, Washington, Jefferson and Franklin, were not Christians, but like him, Deists.
Washington, who has been claimed by the Episcopal church, was like Paine a Deist: His wife was a communicant of this church. During his eight years incumbency of the Presidency, and during the Revolution, and at other times when Mrs. Washington was with him in Philadelphia, he attended, but not regularly, the Episcopal churches of which Bishop White, father of the Episcopal church of America, and the Rev. Dr. Abercrombie were rectors. When Bishop White was asked if Washington had ever communed he replied: "Truth requires me to say that Gen. Washington never received the communion in the churches of which I am the parochial minister"—Memoir of Bishop White, pp. 196, 197. The Western Christian Advocate accepts this testimony as conclusive. It says: "Bishop White seems to have had more intimate relations with Washington than any clergyman of his time. His testimony outweighs any amount of influential argumentation on the question."
Dr. Abercrombie says: "On sacramental Sundays, Gen. Washington, immediately after the desk and pulpit services went out with the greater part of the congregation—always leaving Mrs. Washington with the other communicants."—Sprague's Annals of the American Pulpit, vol. v., p. 394.
Fearing the effect of Washington's example Dr. Abercrombie administered a mild reproof. Washington, he says, "never afterwards came on the morning of sacramental Sunday."—Ibid.
Regarding Washington's conduct in Virginia, the Rev. Beverly Tucker, D.D., of the Episcopal church, says: "The General was accustomed on Communion Sundays to leave the church with her [Nellie Custis, his step-granddaughter], sending back the carriage for Mrs. Washington."
The Rev. William Jackson, who was at a later, period, rector of this church, conducted an exhaustive search to discover if possible some evidence of Washington once having communed. His search was futile. He says: "I find no one who ever communed with him."
Early in the last century the Rev. E. D. Neill, a prominent clergyman of the Episcopal church, contributed to the Episcopal Recorder, the organ of the Episcopal church, an article on Washington's religion. Regarding Washington's church membership he says: "The President was not a communicant, notwithstanding all the pretty stories to the contrary, and after the close of the sermon on Sacramental Sundays, had fallen into the habit of retiring from the church while his wife remained and communed."
The foregoing testimony in disproof of the claim that Washington was a communicant, conclusive as it is, is not needed. His own testimony is sufficient. To Dr. Abercrombie he declared that "he had never been a communicant."—Sprague's Annals of the American Pulpit, vol. v., p. 394.
During the presidential campaign of 1880, the Christian Union, at that time the leading church paper of this country, made the frank admission that of the nineteen men who up to that time had held the office of President of the United States, not one, with the possible exception of Washington, had been a member of a Christian church. And Washington, as we have seen, cannot be made an exception.
"There is nothing to show that he [Washington] was ever a member of the church."—St. Louis Globe.
"He [Washington] belonged to no church."—Western Christian Advocate.
"In all the voluminous writings of General Washington, the Holy name of Jesus Christ is never once written."—Catholic World.
"In several thousand letters the name of Jesus Christ never appears, and it is notably absent from his last will."—General A. W. Greeley in Ladies' Home Journal for April, 1896.
"It has been confidently stated to me that he actually refused spiritual aid when it was proposed to send for a clergyman."—Robert Dale Owen.
The Rev. Dr. Ashbel Green, president of Princeton College, signer of the Declaration of Independence, member of Congress, and chaplain to Congress during Washington's administration, says: "Like nearly all the founders of the Republic, he [Washington] was not a Christian, but a Deist." "He had no belief at all in the divine origin of the Bible."
During Jackson's administration the Rev. Dr. Wilson, a noted Presbyterian divine of Albany, preached a famous sermon on "The Religion of the Presidents," which was published and had a wide circulation. Dr. Wilson showed that of the seven men who up to that time had been elected president, Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, John Quincy Adams, and Jackson, not one had professed a belief in Christianity. In his search for evidence he visited the Washingtons' old pastor, Dr. Abercrombie. In answer to Dr. Wilson's inquiry concerning Washington's religious belief Dr. Abercrombie's emphatic answer was, "Sir, Washington was a Deist." As a result of his investigation Dr. Wilson says: "I think anyone who will candidly do as I have done, will come to the conclusion that he [Washington] was a Deist and nothing more."
Everyone is familiar with the story of Washington's praying at Valley Forge. This is a pure fiction. Intelligent Christians reject it. The Rev. E. D. Neill, of the Episcopal church, whose father's uncle owned the building occupied by Washington at Valley Forge, says: "With the capacious and comfortable house at his disposal, it is hardly possible that the shy, silent, cautious Washington should leave such retirement and enter the leafless woods, in the vicinity of the winter encampment of an army and engage in audible prayer."—Episcopal Recorder.
Alluding to this subject, the Rev. Dr. Minot J. Savage, in a sermon, said: "The pictures that represent him on his knees in the winter forest at Valley Forge are silly caricatures."
Dr. Conway, who was employed to edit Washington's letters, and who is considered one of the best authorities on his domestic life, says: "Many clergymen visited him, but they were never invited to hold family prayers, and no grace was ever said at table."
Washington's library contained the Deistical works of Paine, Voltaire and other Freethinkers. When the French Freethinker Volney visited this country he was the guest of Washington.
"His services as a vestryman had no special significance from a religious standpoint. The political affairs of a Virginia county were then directed by the vestry, which, having the power to elect its own members, was an important instrument of the oligarchy of Virginia."—General A. W. Greeley in Ladies' Home Journal.
George Wilson, whose ancestors occupied the pew next to Washington's in Virginia, says.: "At that time the vestry was the county court, and in order to have a hand in managing the affairs of the county, in which his large property lay, regulating the levy of taxes, etc., Washington had to be a vestryman."
Jefferson was a more radical Freethinker than Paine, as the following passages from his writings will show. My quotations are from Randolph's edition of Jefferson's works, published in 1829.
In a letter to his nephew and ward, Peter Carr, while at school, Jefferson writes: "Read the Bible as you would Livy or Tacitus... Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God."—Jefferson's Works, Vol. ii, P. 217.
The God of the Old Testament, the God that Christians worship, Jefferson pronounces "a being of terrific character—cruel, vindictive, capricious, and unjust."—Works, vol. iv, p. 325.
In the Four Gospels, which Christians consider the most authentic and the most important books of the Bible, Jefferson discovers what he terms "a groundwork of vulgar ignorance, of things impossible, of superstitions, fanaticisms, and fabrications."—Ibid.
"Among the sayings and discourses imputed to him [Jesus] by his biographers [Matthew, Mark, Luke and John], I find many passages of fine imagination, correct morality, and of the most lovely benevolence; and others, again, of so much ignorance, of so much absurdity, so much untruth and imposture, as to pronounce it impossible that such contradictions should have proceeded from the same being. I separate, therefore, the gold from the dross, restore to him the former, and leave the latter to the stupidity of some and the roguery of others of his disciples."—Works, vol. iv. p. 320.
Jefferson made a compilation of the finer alleged sayings of Jesus which have been published and paraded as proof of Jefferson's acceptance of Christ. For the man Jesus, Jefferson, like Paine, Ingersoll and other Freethinkers, had the greatest admiration, but for the Christ Jesus of orthodox Christianity he had the greatest contempt.
"Of this band of dupes and impostors, Paul was the great Corypheus, and first corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus."—Vol. iv. p. 327.
"It is too late in the day for men of sincerity to pretend they believe in the Platonic mysticism that three are one and one is three... But this constitutes the craft, the power and profit of the priests. Sweep away their gossamer fabrics of fictitious religion and they would catch no more flies."—Ibid, p. 205.
"The Christian priesthood, finding the doctrines of Christ leveled to every understanding, and too plain to need explanation, saw in the mysticisms of Plato materials with which they might build up an artificial system, which might, from its indistinctness, admit everlasting controversy, give employment for their order and introduce it to profit, power and preeminence."—Ibid, p. 242.
"The hocus-pocus phantasm of a God, like another Cerberus, with one body and three heads had its birth and growth in the blood of thousands and thousands of martyrs."—Ibid, p. 360.
"The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as his father in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter."—Ibid, p. 365.
"In our Richmond there is much fanaticism, but chiefly among the women. They have their night meetings and praying parties, where, attended by their priests and sometimes by a henpecked husband, they pour forth the effusions of their love to Jesus in terms as amatory and carnal as their modesty would permit to a mere earthly lover."—Ibid, p. 358.
"Jefferson occupied his Sundays at Monticello in writing letters to Paine (they are unpublished I believe, but I have seen them) in favor of the probabilities that Christ and his Twelve Apostles were only personifications of the sun and the Twelve signs of the Zodiac."—Dr. Conway.
The correspondence of Jefferson and Paine would fill a volume. In these letters Jefferson unbosomed himself and gave expression to his most radical sentiments. Randolph's edition of Jefferson's works was published twenty years after Paine's death. By this time the Orthodox ghouls had about completed their work and these letters, although containing some of Jefferson's most mature thoughts and best writings, remained unpublished.
In a letter to Dr. Woods, Jefferson says: "I have recently been examining all the known superstitions of the world, and do not find in our particular superstition [Christianity] one redeeming feature. They are all alike, founded upon fables and mythologies." "Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch toward uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites."—Jefferson's Notes on Virginia.
Writing to Jefferson on the 5th of May, 1817, John Adams, giving expression to the matured conviction of eighty-two years, says: "This would be the best of all possible worlds if there were no religion in it." To this radical declaration Jefferson replied: "If by religion we are to understand sectarian dogmas in which no two of them agree, then your declaration on that hypothesis is just, 'that this would be the best of worlds, if there were no religion in it.'"—Works, vol. iv. p. 301.
Writing to John Adams just before his death Jefferson makes the following declaration of his belief: "I am a Materialist."
"A question has been raised as to Thomas Jefferson's religious views. There need be no question, for he has settled that himself. He was an Infidel, or, as he chose to term it, a Materialist. By his own account he was as heterodox as Colonel Inger-soll, and in some respects even more so."—Chicago Tribune.
Alluding to Jefferson's belief the Rev. Dr. Wilson in his sermon on "The Religion of the Presidents," previously quoted, says: "Whatever difference of opinion there may have been at the time [of his election], it is now rendered certain that he was a Deist.... Since his death, and the publication of Randolph, [Jefferson's Works], there remains not the shadow of doubt of his Infidel principles. If any man thinks there is, let him look at the book itself. I do not recommend the purchase of it to any man, for it is one of the most wicked and dangerous books extant."
"In religion he was a Freethinker; in morals pure and unspotted."—Benson J. Lossing, in his "Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence!'
"Surely, Christians, your cause must be growing desperate, when, to sustain it, you must needs claim for its support so bitter an enemy as Thomas Jefferson—a man who affirmed that he was a Materialist; a man who recognized in your religion only "our particular superstition," a superstition without "one redeeming feature;" a man who divided the Christian world into two classes—"hypocrites and fools;" a man who asserted that your Bible is a book abounding with "vulgar ignorance;" a man who termed your Father, Son, and Holy Ghost a "hocus-pocus phantasm;" a man who denounced your God as "cruel, vindictive, and unjust;" a man who intimated that your Savior was "a man of illegitimate birth;" a man who declared his disciples, including your oracle Paul, to be a "band of dupes and impostors and who characterized your modern priesthood, of all denominations, as cannibal priests" and an "abandoned confederacy" against public happiness."—The Fathers of Our Republic.
Franklin rejected Christianity when a boy and remained a Rationalist to the end of his life.
"Some volumes against deism fell into my hands. They were said to be the substance of sermons preached at Boyle's lecture. It happened that they produced on me an effect precisely the reverse of what was intended by the writers; for the arguments of the deists, which were cited in order to be refuted, appealed to me much more forcibly than the refutation itself. In a word I soon became a thorough Deist."—Franklin's Autobiography.
Writing to Ezra Stiles, President of Yale College, when he was eighty-four, he says: "I have with most of the Dissenters in England, doubts as to his [Christ's] divinity."
"By heaven we understand a state of happiness, infinite in degree and eternal in duration. I can do nothing to deserve such a reward.... I have not the vanity to think I deserve it, the folly to expect, or the ambition to desire it."—Franklin's Works, vol. vii., p. 75.
"I wish it [Christianity] were more productive of good works than I have generally seen it. I mean real good works, works of kindness, charity, mercy, and public spirit, not holy-day keeping, sermon hearing and reading, performing church ceremonies, or making long prayers, filled with flatteries and compliments, despised even by wise men, and much less capable of pleasing the Deity."—Ibid.
"Nowadays we have scarcely a little parson that does not think it the duty of every man within his reach to sit under his petty ministration, and that whoever omits this offends God. To such I wish more humility."—Franklin's Works, vol. vii. pp. 76,77.
"The government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion," affirmed Washington (treaty with Tripoli). "Keep the church and the state forever separate," said Grant (Des Moines speech). And yet, in spite of this declaration and this admonition religious liberty has been ignored and a practical union of church and state has been maintained—the exemption of ecclesiastical property from taxation, the employment of chaplains, appropriations for sectarian purposes, religious services, including the use of the Bible, in our public schools, the appointment of religious festivals, the judicial oath and the enforced observance of Sunday as a Sabbath. Concerning these and similar privileges of his time and of our time, Franklin says: "I think they were invented not so much to secure religion as the emoluments of it. When a religion is good I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it, so that its professors are obliged to call for help of the civil power, 'tis a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one."—Franklin's Works, vol. viii., p. 506.
Theodore Parker, in his "Four Historic Americans," writes as follows concerning Franklin's belief: "If belief in the miraculous revelation of the Old Testament and the New is required to make a man religious, then Franklin had no religion at all. It would be an insult to say that he believed in the popular theology of his time, or of ours, for I find not a line from his pen indicating any such belief."
The eminent statesman John Hay, in an article on "Franklin in France," published after his death in the Century Magazine for January, 1906, ascribes much of Franklin's popularity in France to his espousal of Freethought. He says: "Franklin became the fashion of the season. For the court dabbled a little in liberal ideas. So powerful was the vast impulse of Freethought that then influenced the mind of France—that susceptible French mind, that always answers like the wind harp to the breath of every true human aspiration—that even the highest classes had caught the infection of liberalism." Among Franklin's most intimate companions in France Mr. Hay mentions Voltaire, D'Alembert, D'Holbach, and Condorcet, four of France's most radical Freethinkers.
Dr. Franklin and Dr. Priestley were intimate friends. After Franklin's death Dr. Priestley wrote: "It is much to be lamented that a man of Franklin's general good character and great influence should have been an unbeliever in Christianity, and also have done as much as he did to make others unbelievers."—Priestley's Autobiography, p. 60.
This great man was himself denounced as an Infidel. He was a Unitarian, and was mobbed and driven from England on account of his heretical opinions and his sympathy with the French Revolution. Franklin's Infidelity must have been very pronounced to have provoked the censure of Dr. Priestley.
There has been published a religious tract, entitled "Don't Unchain the Tiger," which purports to be a letter from Franklin to Paine, advising him not to publish his "Age of Reason." The only thing needed to cause a rejection of this pious fiction is a knowledge of the fact that Franklin had been dead nearly four years when the first page of Paine's book was written. Besides, the opinions expressed in this book were the opinions of Franklin. Paine's biographer, Dr. Conway, says: "Paine's deism differed from Franklin's only in being more fervently religious." Franklin's biographer, James Parton, says: "It ['Age of Reason'] contains not a position which Franklin, John Adams, Jefferson and Theodore Parker would have dissented from."
The Rev. John Snyder, of St. Louis, says: "Paine shared the religious convictions of Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Hamilton and Franklin." Concerning the belief of these and other noted men, the Rev. Dr. Swing, of Chicago, says: "Voltaire, Bolingbroke, Pitt, Burke, Washington, Lafayette, Jefferson, Paine and Franklin moved along in a wonderful unity of belief, both political and religious."
"Paine wrote the 'Age of Reason' in Paris some years after Franklin was dead.... The letter called the letter of Franklin to Paine bears no address or date or signature. It may not have been written by Franklin to anybody. The evangelists who cite this letter intend to convey the impression that the 'Tiger' means unbelief. The indication is that the writer had in his mind the beast of fanaticism and detraction. That tiger was let loose by the 'Age of Reason' against its author, and the animal and its whelps are still with us."—George E. Macdonald.
Another Franklin myth is that concerning Franklin's motion for prayers in the Convention that framed our Constitution. The Convention, it is claimed, had labored for weeks without accomplishing anything when, at Franklin's suggestion, its sessions were opened with prayer, after which its work was speedily performed. While Franklin's proposal was not inconsistent with his Deistic belief it was not adopted. There was not a prayer offered from the opening to the close of the Convention. Franklin himself says: "The Convention, except three or four persons, thought prayers unnecessary."
Washington, Jefferson, Franklin and Paine were four of the greatest and noblest of men. All held substantially the same religious opinions. All were Deists. All rejected Christianity. Yet Washington, Jefferson and Franklin are held in grateful remembrance, while Paine has been reviled as no other man has been reviled. How do we account for this? Paine's mere rejection of Christianity does not account for it.
The "Age of Reason" was suppressed by the government in England. In America it could not be suppressed by law. The only way the clergy could suppress it here was to resort to slander, to cover its author's name with obloquy and make him appear so vile that no respectable bookseller would dare to sell it and no respectable reader dare to read it.
"In England it was easy for Paine's chief antagonist, the bishop of Llandaff [Watson] to rebuke Paine's strong language, when his lordship could sit serenely in the House of Peers with knowledge that his opponent was answered with handcuffs for every Englishman who sold his book. But in America slander had to take the place of handcuffs."—Dr. Conway.
Henry A. Beers: "His book was denounced from a hundred pulpits and copies of it were carefully locked away from the sight of 'the young,' whose religious beliefs it might undermine."
James B. Elliott, of Philadelphia, says he well remembers the "time when it was impossible to obtain the 'Age of Reason' except under cover of the greatest secrecy and when he who was known to have read it was shunned as a dangerous person."
Hugh O. Pentecost: "Paine's offense was not that he was an Infidel, but that he made his meaning so clear that the common people could become Infidels, too."
"It is true that Paine was Republican and Deist, an enemy of kings and churches. But many men of great and undimmed honor held the same principles: Washington, Jefferson and Franklin and others of the 'Fathers' were Deists, and in England that creed was even fashionable in certain aristocratic quarters. Paine's real sin was not that he preached Deism in the land of Bolingbroke, Hume and Gibbon,... but that he succeeded for the first time in inoculating the people with his heresies."—The Nation, London.
"Mimnermus," an English writer, says: "There were critics of the Bible, it is true, before Paine's day, but they were mainly scholars whose works were not easily understood by ordinary folk. Paine himself, a man of genius, had sprung from the people, and he spoke their tongue and made their thoughts articulate."
"Paine held that the people at large had the right of access to all new ideas, and he wrote so as to reach the people. Hence, his book must be suppressed."—Prof. J. B. Bury, LL.D.
John S. Crosby: "The reason why his writings are excluded from our colleges is not on account of what he said about the prophets, but for fear that the realization of his ideas may diminish the profits."
"Recognizing the magic influence that a great name carries with it, the clergy have inscribed in the Christian roster the names of hundreds who were total disbelievers in their dogmas. As the venders of quack nostrums attach the forged certificates of distinguished individuals to their worthless drugs, to make them sell, so these theological venders present the manufactured endorsements of the great to make their nostrums popular. Washington, Jefferson and Franklin have all been denominated Christians, not because they were such, for they were not, but because of the influence that attaches to their names. Paine's opposition to priestcraft was too pronounced and too well known to claim him as an adherent of their faith, and so they have sought to destroy his influence by destroying his good name. Not only this, knowing the prejudice that has prevailed against Atheism, they have misrepresented his theological opinions and declared him an Atheist."—The Fathers of Our Republic.
"This injustice to him was perpetrated in defense of a system that does not care, because it does not dare to have its credentials and foundation critically examined; in other words, Paine has been maligned for more than a century by those interested in keeping veiled the image; he did what he could—and it was much—to uncover to the gaze of the world."—E. C. Walker.
William M. Salter, A. M.: "It is to the shame of religious prejudice in our country that he is not freely and gladly given his place alongside of Franklin and Washington."
"The rankest ingratitude the American people have ever exhibited has been that of the systematic attempt to blot the name of Paine from the memory of succeeding generations, and to allow no historical mention in the annals of the nation which he greatly and gloriously helped to found. But with the destruction of every error truth rises clear and bright. The time will come when his picture will be as familiar to school children as those of his great contemporaries, Washington, Jefferson and Franklin."—. J. B. Wilson.
Pretended reviewers of Paine, including the authors of many encyclopedic articles on Paine, writers who, for the most part, never read the "Age of Reason," characterize it as crude and superficial, declare its arguments to be weak and fallacious and its author to have had little or no influence in changing the religious opinions of his time. It is a sufficient answer to these critics to cite the fact that from thirty to forty elaborate replies from Christian writers followed it in rapid succession, each writer tacitly admitting that it needed answering and that all preceding efforts to answer it had been failures.
Paine's orthodox critics also affect to believe that his "Age of Reason" is no longer read, that it is an "out of print" book for which there is no demand. The fact is ever since the first London and Paris editions were published in 1794 there has been a constant and widespread demand for it.
Millions of copies have been printed and sold during this time, and today the demand for it is greater than ever before.
Dr. John W. Francis (referring to "Age of Reason"): "No work had the demand for readers comparable to that of Paine."
One bookseller of New York says that his sales of the "Age of Reason" now average more than five thousand copies a year. He is but one of many New York booksellers who sell Paine's book, while New York is but one of many cities where it has an extensive sale. A Chicago bookseller says that the "Age of Reason" is his best seller, that he sells thousands of them every year.
William Heaford (1913): "Two large editions of forty thousand copies each will be issued of this invaluable edition of Paine's great text book of Biblical exegesis [by Watts & Co., London]."
"There were sold in Burma [mostly to Buddhists] over ten thousand copies of the 'Age of Reason' last year."—U. Dhamaloka, President Buddhist Tract Society.
Arthur B. Moss: "During the past fifty years hundreds of thousands of copies of the 'Age of Reason' have been circulated in England and America alone.... The steady circulation of this work has done more than that of any other book to undermine the faith of Christians in all parts of the world."
H. Percy Ward (formerly an English clergyman): "Thomas Paine's 'Age of Reason' gave the first shock to my faith."
Wilson MacDonald: "I read the 'Age of Reason' when a boy, and I said, Paine is the hero for me."
Susan H. Wixon: "I read that book again and again, and always with increased interest. It set me to thinking more than any other bode I had ever read."
Sir Hiram Maxim: "It is indeed a very remarkable work. As a boy I read it with great care; as a man I have read it thoughtfully."
James D. Shaw: "Of all the books ever published, I doubt if any other has ever equaled the 'Age of Reason' in breaking from the human mind superstition's fetters."
"The effect of this pamphlet was vast."—London Times.
Edwin P. Whipple: "The most influential assailant of the orthodox faith was Thomas Paine."
Francis E. Abbot, Ph.D.: "His 'Age of Reason' was one of the greatest historic blows ever struck for freedom. Paine's name ought to be written in letters of gold in the roll of the world's heroes."
"It is still a living work, read by thousands, and carrying conviction wherever it finds an open mind."—James F. Morton, Jr.
Daniel Webster: "Mr. Girard got this provision of his will ('a school unfettered by religious tenets') from Paine's 'Age of Reason.'"
Paul Desjardines (referring to "Age of Reason"): "The book in which the modern conscience first dared, without indirection and without sarcasm, to set itself up as the judge of Christian tradition and laid the basis of a purified religion reduced to the only beliefs which appeared necessary as a foundation of fraternity among men."
Eugene M. Macdonald: "The 'Age of Reason' is irrefutable in its arguments, in its presentation of facts, in its analysis of the Bible, and absolutely convincing to fair-minded men in its conclusions. It was the forerunner of the Higher Criticism."
"During the past thirty years we have heard much of the Higher Criticism; hundreds of learned men throughout Christendom have been investigating the Bible.... These learned men, after working on the problem for many years, have come to the exact conclusions that Thomas Paine arrived at so many years ago."—Sir Hiram Maxim.
"Paine was a precursor of such men as Colenso, and Robertson Smith, and a large host of scholars besides."—Rev. O. B. Frothingham.
"It is a singular tribute to his sagacity and common sense that every material fact and conclusion stated by Paine in regard to the Bible has been sustained by the explorations and increased learning since his day."—T. B. Wakeman.
"Upon this theological treatise is founded all modern biblical criticism."—Elbert Hubbard.
Henry Frank: "There is nothing in the conclusions of the Higher Criticism that Paine did not anticipate."
"As to his anticipation of the Higher Criticism. that should be placed to his credit."—W. T. Stead.
Henry Yorke (with Paine in England and France): "There is not a verse in it [the Bible] that is not familiar to him."
J. P. Mendum: "As a critic and reviewer of the Bible his 'Age of Reason' is unanswerable."
Sir Leslie Stephen: "Paine's book announced a startling fact, against which all the flimsy collections of conclusive proofs were powerless. It amounted to a proclamation that the creed no longer satisfied the instincts of cultivated scholars. When the defenders of the old orders tried to conjure with the old charms, the magic had gone out of them. In Paine's rough tones they recognized not the mere echo of coffee-house gossip, but the voice of deep popular passion. Once and forever, it was announced that, for the average mass of mankind, the old creed was dead."
Elbert Hubbard: "As Paine's book 'Common Sense,' broke the power of Great Britain in America, and the 'Rights of Man' gave free speech and a free press to England, so did the 'Age of Reason' give pause to the juggernaut of orthodoxy. Thomas Paine was the legitimate ancestor of Hosea Ballou who founded the Universalist church, and of Theodore Parker who made Unitarianism in America an intellectual torch. Channing, Ripley,' Bartol, Martineau, Frothingham, Hale, Curtis, Collyer, Swing, Thomas, Conway, Leonard, Savage, Crapsey, yes—even Emerson, and Thoreau, were spiritual children, all, of Thomas Paine. He blazed the way and made it possible, for men to preach the sweet reasonableness of reason. He was the pioneer in a jungle of superstition."
Abraham Lincoln became and remained a disciple of Thomas Paine.
Chicago Herald (Feb., 1892): "In 1834, at New Salem, Ill., Lincoln read and circulated Vol-ney's 'Ruins' and Paine's 'Age of Reason,' giving to both books the sincere recommendation of his unqualified approval."
Col. Ward H. Lamon (biographer of Lincoln): "He [Lincoln] had made himself familiar with the writings of Paine and Volney—the 'Ruins' of the one, and the 'Age of Reason' of the other,... and then wrote a deliberate essay wherein he reached conclusions similar to theirs."
"In this work he intended to demonstrate:
"'First, that the Bible was not God's revelation;
"'Secondly, that Jesus was not the Son of God.'"
(Lincoln's work was never published.)
"You insist on knowing something which you know I possess, and got as a secret, and that is, about Lincoln's little book on Infidelity. Mr. Lincoln did tell me that he did write a little book on Infidelity"—Col. James H. Matheny, Lincoln's political manager in Illinois.
James Ford Rhodes, LL.D.: "When Lincoln entered upon political life he became reticent regarding his religious opinions, for at the age of twenty-five, influenced by Thomas Paine,... he had written an extended essay against Christianity."
Hon. W. H. Herndon (law partner of Lincoln): "Paine became a part of Mr. Lincoln from 1834 to the end of his life."
"It was my good fortune to have had for some years an intimate acquaintance with Lincoln's partner for twenty-two years. Mr. Herndon was a man of academic education, and possessed a number of books that in that day would be considered a good library, and he told me that the books of his which fairly fascinated Lincoln were Volney's 'Ruins' and the works of Thomas Paine, especially the latter, of which he had memorized many pages."—Col. E. A. Stevens.
Hon. James Tuttle: "He [Lincoln] was one of the most ardent admirers of Thomas Paine I ever met. He was continually quoting from the 'Age of Reason.'"
It has been claimed that Lincoln changed his religious opinions after he became President. In a letter, written May 27, 1865, Col. John G. Nicolay, his private secretary, says: "Mr. Lincoln did not, to my knowledge, in any way, change his religious ideas, opinions, or beliefs, from the time he left Springfield till the day of his death."
Hon. Leonard Swett, who placed Lincoln in nomination for the Presidency, in answer to an inquiry from a friend, wrote as follows: "You ask me if Lincoln changed his religion towards the close of his life. I think not."
Next to Mr. Herndon, Lincoln's biographer, Colonel Lamon, has made the fullest and fairest presentation of Lincoln's religious opinions. He did not accept them but he was familiar with them and he was honest enough to present them. In Illinois he was the friend and confidant of Lincoln. When the time approached for Lincoln to take the Executive chair, and the journey from Springfield to Washington was deemed a dangerous one, to Colonel Lamon was intrusted the responsible duty of conducting him to the national capital. During the eventful years that followed he remained at the President's side, holding an important official position in the District of Columbia. When Lincoln was assassinated, at the great funeral pageant in Washington, he led the civic procession, and was, with Judge David Davis and Major General Hunter, selected to convey the remains to their final resting-place at Springfield. Regarding his friend's religious belief Colonel Lamon says: "Mr. Lincoln was never a member of any church, nor did he believe in the divinity of Christ or the inspiration of the scriptures in the sense understood by evangelical Christians" (Life of Lincoln, p. 486). indefinite expressions about 'Divine Providence,' the 'Justice of God,' 'the favor of the Most High,' were easy and not inconsistent with his religious notions. In this accordingly he indulged freely; but never in all that time [1834 to his death] did he let fall from his lips or his pen an expression which remotely implied the slightest faith in Jesus as the Son of God and the Savior of men (Ibid, p. 502).
After Lincoln's death Mrs. Lincoln, herself a Christian, made the following statement: "Mr. Lincoln had no hope, and no faith, in the usual acceptation of those words" (Lamon's Life of Lincoln, p. 489).
Judge David Davis, his life-long friend and his executor, says: "He [Lincoln] had no faith, in the Christian sense of the term."
Lincoln did not believe in a personal God. His law partner, W. H. Herndon, relates the following in proof of this: In 1854 he asked me to erase the word God from a speech which I had written and read to him for criticism, because my language indicated a personal God, whereas he insisted that no such personality ever existed."—Lamon's Life of Lincoln, p. 445.
The Gettysburg address, as delivered by Lincoln, contained no mention of Deity. The phrase "under God" was inserted afterward, with Lincoln's consent, at the earnest solicitation of a friend. The recognition of God in the Emancipation Proclamation was inserted at the urgent request of Secretary Chase. The pious phrases to be found in his state papers are mostly the work of his cabinet ministers and secretaries.
Thirty years ago Judge James M. Nelson, a son of Thomas Pope Nelson, a distinguished statesman of Kentucky, and a great-grandson of Thomas Nelson, Jr., signer of the Declaration of Independence, who was intimately acquainted with Lincoln, both in Illinois and at Washington, published in the Louisville Times his "Reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln." Concerning Lincoln's religious belief Judge Nelson says:
"In religion Mr. Lincoln was of about the same belief as Colonel Ingersoll, and there is no account of his ever having changed. He went to church a few times with his family while he was President, but so far as I have been able to find he remained an unbeliever.... I asked him once about his fervent Thanksgiving Message and twitted him with being an unbeliever in what was published. 'Oh,' said he, 'that is some of Seward's nonsense, and it pleases the fools!"
Col. Amos C. Babcock, for many years chairman of the Illinois State Republican Committee, and one of Lincoln's confidential agents during the war, in an article published in the Peoria Journal, says: "Lincoln was an Agnostic. During the war he sometimes talked religiously, but it was mere statecraft. He knew that everything depended upon his having the support of the religious people,... but he was for all that an utter disbeliever in the Christian religion."
In Springfield, where he lived, Lincoln's rejection of Christianity was known to every person and while he was very popular and greatly beloved by all who were not dominated by their religious prejudices, the bigots always opposed him. During the presidential campaign of 1860 his friends made a canvass of the voters of Springfield for the purpose of ascertaining how they were going to vote for president. The list was given to Lincoln. With Hon. Newton Bateman, state superintendent of public instruction, he went over it carefully, his principal desire being to know how the clergy were going to vote. When they had finished Lincoln said: "Here are twenty-three ministers, of different denominations, and all of them are against me but three; and here are a great many prominent' members of the churches, a very great majority of whom are against me."—Holland's Life of Lincoln, p. 236.
Why, it may be asked, was Lincoln's Infidelity not used against him everywhere in this campaign? Because the managers of both parties knew that Douglas, also, was a disbeliever in Christianity. An agitation of this question would have weakened the chances of both northern candidates while it would have strengthened the chances of Breckinridge, the southern candidate.
Lincoln did not believe in prayer. All the stories about his praying, without a single exception, are pure inventions. Let me cite an example. After Lincoln's death the Western Christian Advocate published the following story, a companion piece to Washington's prayer at Valley Forge: "On the day of the receipt of the capitulation of Lee, as we learn from a friend intimate with the late President Lincoln, the cabinet meeting was held an hour earlier than usual. Neither the President nor any member was able, for a time, to give utterance to his feelings. At the suggestion of Mr. Lincoln all dropped on their knees, and offered in silence and in tears their humble and heartfelt acknowledgment to the Almighty for the triumph he had granted to the national cause."
In reply to an inquiry respecting the authenticity of this story Hugh McCulloch, Lincoln's last secretary of the treasury, wrote as follows: "The description of what occurred at the Executive Mansion, when the intelligence was received of the surrender of the Confederate forces, which you quote from the Western Christian Advocate, is not only absolutely groundless, but absurd. After I became Secretary of the Treasury I was present at every Cabinet meeting, and I never saw Mr. Lincoln or any of his ministers upon his knees or in tears."
Our works of art are mostly mythological. And this is true of Christian art, as it is true of Christian theology. The Washington myth is now preserved in bronze, and the Lincoln myth will some day find expression on canvas.
Herndon says: "It is my opinion that no man ever heard Mr. Lincoln pray in the true evangelical sense of that word. His philosophy is against all human prayer as a means of reversing God's decrees."
The partnership of Lincoln and Herndon was formed in 1843. It was dissolved by the assassin's bullet in 1865. The love of these men for each other was like the love of Damon and Pythias. To the moral character of his illustrious partner Mr. Herndon pays this tribute: "The benevolence of his impulses., the seriousness of his convictions, and the nobility of his character, are evidences unimpeachable that his soul was ever filled with the exalted purity and the sublime faith of natural religion."
Lincoln's religion was the religion of Thomas Paine. "To do good is my religion," said Paine; "When I do good I feel good, and when I do bad I feel bad," said Lincoln.
For thirty years the church endeavored to crush Lincoln, but when, in spite of her malignant opposition, he achieved a glorious immortality, this same church, to hide the mediocrity of her devotees, attempts to steal his deathless name.
Six Historic Americans: "The Church claims all great men. But the truth is, the great men of all nations have, for the most part, rejected Christianity. Of these six historic Americans—the six greatest men that have lived on this continent [Paine, Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, Lincoln and Grant]—not one was a Christian. All were unbelievers.
"It is popularly supposed that Paine was a very irreligious man, while Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, Lincoln and Grant were very religious. The reverse of this is more nearly true. Paine, although not a Christian, was a deeply religious man; while the others, though practicing the loftiest morals, cared little for religion."
("Six Historic Americans" contains more than five hundred pages of evidence in support of the fact that these six eminent men were all disbelievers in orthodox Christianity, including the testimony of one hundred witnesses, mostly friends and acquaintences, in proof of Lincoln's unbelief.)
"The 'Age of Reason' can now be estimated calmly. It was written from the viewpoint of a Quaker who did not believe in revealed religion, but who held that 'all religions are in their nature mild and benign' when not associated with political systems."—Encyclopedia Britannica.
"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."—Age of Reason.
"Each of those churches show certain books which they call revelation, or the word of God. The Jews say that their word of God was given by God to Moses face to face; the Christians say that their word of God came by divine inspiration; and the Turks say that their word of God (the Koran) was brought by an angel from heaven. Each of those churches accuses the others of unbelief; and, for my own part, I disbelieve them all."—Ibid.
Paine's reason for rejecting the Bible is as logical as it is apparent. A plurality of so-called divine revelations cannot be harmonized with the attributes ascribed to. Deity. There are many Bibles. The world is divided into various religious systems. The adherents of each system have their sacred book, or Bible. Brahmins have the Vedas and Puranas, Buddhists the Tripitaka, Zoroastrians the Zend Avesta, Confucians the King, Mohammedans the Koran, and Christians the Holy Bible. The adherents of each claim that their book is a revelation from God—that the others are spurious. Now, if the Christian Bible were a revelation—if it were God's only revelation, as affirmed—would he allow these spurious books to be imposed upon mankind and delude the greater portion of his children?
A divine revelation intended for all mankind can be harmonized only with a universal acceptance of this revelation. God, it is affirmed, has made a revelation to the world. Those who receive and accept this revelation are saved; those who fail to receive and accept it are lost. This God, it is claimed, is all-powerful and all-just. If he is all-powerful he can give his children a revelation. If he is all-just he will give this revelation to all. He will not give it to a part of them and allow them to be saved and withhold it from the others and suffer them to be lost. Your house is on fire. Your children are asleep in their rooms. What is your duty? To arouse them and rescue them—to awaken all of them and save all of them. If you awaken and save only a part of them when it is in your power to save them all, you are a fiend. If you stand outside and blow a trumpet and say, "I have warned them, I have done my duty,", and they perish, you are still a fiend. If God does not give his revelation to all; if he does not disclose his divinity to all; in short, if he does not save all, he is the prince of fiends.
If all the world's inhabitants but one accepted the Bible and there was one who could not honestly accept it, its rejection by one human being would prove that it is not from an all-powerful and an all-just God; for an all-powerful God who failed to reach and convince even one of his children would not be an all-just God. Has the Bible been given to all the world? Do all accept it? Three-fourths of the human race reject it; millions have never heard of it.
"The word of God is the creation we behold."—Age of Reason.
"It is only in the creation that all our ideas and conceptions of a word of God can unite. The creation speaketh a universal language, independently of human speech or human languages, multiplied and various as they be. It is an ever-existing original which every man can read. It cannot be forged; it cannot be counterfeited; it cannot be lost; it cannot be altered; it cannot be suppressed. It does not depend upon the will of man whether it shall be published or not; it publishes itself from one end of the earth to the other. It preaches to all nations and to all worlds; and this word of God reveals to man all that is necessary for man to know of God.
"Do we want to contemplate his power? We see it in the immensity of the Creation. Do we want to contemplate his wisdom? We see it in the unchangeable order by which the incomprehensible Whole is governed. Do we want to contemplate his munificence? We see it in the abundance with which he fills the earth. Do we want to contemplate his mercy? We see it in his not withholding that abundance even from the unthankful. In fine, do we want to know what God is? Search not the book called the Scripture, which any human hand might make, but the scripture called the Creation."—Ibid.
"The moral duty of man consists in imitating the moral goodness and beneficence of God manifested in the creation towards all his creatures. That seeing as we daily do the goodness of God to all men, it is an example calling upon all men to practice the same towards each other; and, consequently, that everything of persecution and revenge between man and man, and everything of cruelty to animals, is a violation of moral duty."—Ibid.
"I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy and endeavoring to make our fellow-creatures happy."—Ibid.
"Any system of religion that has anything in it that shocks the mind of a child cannot be a true system."—Ibid.
"I trouble not myself about the manner of future existence. I content myself with believing, even to positive conviction, that the power that gave me existence is able to continue it, in any form and manner he pleases, either with or without this body."—Ibid.
It has been charged that Paine reviled Jesus in his book. He eulogized Jesus. ''Three noble and pathetic tributes to the Man of Nazareth are audible from the last century—those of Rousseau, Voltaire and Paine."—Dr. Conway.
"Nothing that is here said can apply, even with the most distant disrespect, to the real character of Jesus Christ. He was a virtuous and amiable man. The morality that he preached was of the most benevolent kind; and though similar Systems of morality had been preached by Confucius, and by some of the Greek philosophers, many years before; by the Quakers since, and by many good men in all ages, it has not been exceeded by any.... But he preached also against the Jewish priests; and this brought upon him the hatred and vengeance of the whole order of priesthood."—Age of Reason.
History repeats itself. What is alleged to have been the fate of Jesus was, in a measure, the fate of Thomas Paine. The penning of his honest thoughts on religion caused his good name to be consigned to everlasting infamy on earth and his soul doomed to endless misery in hell. The Jews who are said to have demanded the crucifixion of Jesus on Calvary and the Catholics who burned Bruno at Rome are not more deserving of execration than are the Protestant assassins of Paine's character in England and America.
Referring to Paine's examination and analysis of the Bible and his criticisms of the church presented in the "Age of Reason," William Thurston Brown, in a lecture, said: "He brought to that, examination and analysis what almost no other mind in all the ages has brought: a mind absolutely free, a soul absolutely incorruptible, a character unstained by one act of compromise or treachery to friend or foe, a nature devoted, as few natures in all history have been, to the truth, and, more than all, a sense of the relation of moral and intellectual integrity to personal character and social well-being never surpassed and seldom equaled."
S. Kyd (counselor for Thomas Williams, imprisoned for publishing the "Age of Reason"): "I defy the prosecution to find in the 'Age of Reason' a single passage inconsistent with the most chaste, the most correct system of morals."
Prof. W. F. Jamieson: "I read from this famous book, the 'Age of Reason,' as pure sentiments as were ever penned by mortal man."
"When I was a boy I was often told that the writings of Thomas Paine 'were not fit for anybody to read.' My pastor said so, as did my Sunday school teachers and my parents. None of these had ever read them or knew anything about them....I believed them, and might still do so, had I not accidentally encountered a copy of the 'Age of Reason.' Upon reading it I found it to be as conventional as anything I had ever read in church or Sunday school, to say nothing of its more lofty reasoning."—Franklin Steiner.
The Encyclopedia Britannica says that "the 'Age of Reason' contains many passages of earnest and even lofty eloquence in favor of a pure morality."
"Its tone throughout is noble and reverent."—Rufus Rockwell.
Chapman Cohen: "Assuming Paine to be alive today, with his opinions unchanged, how much fault would he find with the teachings of many preachers? Very little I fancy. But does this mean, or would it mean, that Paine had become converted to Christianity? Not a bit of it. It would only mean that Christianity had become converted to Paine. In its most advanced form today, Christianity is little more than the eighteenth century Deism it so bitterly opposed, with a liberal dash of the word 'Christ.'"
"What has become of the Bible that Paine attacked? So far as the mere paper and type is concerned it is still here. But so tar as belief is concerned, it is Paine's Bible that is believed in by the majority of educated Christians."
Rev. Dr. E. L. Rexford: "If Paine were now living he would be looked upon by all enlightened clergymen and laymen as a very conservative critic of the Christian religion."
Rev. George Burman Foster (Gottingen and Chicago Universities): "What was radical in regard to the Bible in his day would be conservative today."
Rev. S. Fletcher Williams (England): "His principles were right, and today an increasing number of religious teachers and religious minded men stand only where he stood a century ago."
Dr. T. A. Bland: "The principles of the 'Age of Reason' are embodied in sermons—orthodox and radical—all over the country."
"The work of Paine was done so well The Church is now the Infidel." "He triumphed—Bibles are revised, Creeds change, and faiths decay, The facts his bitter foes despised Their children prize today." —C. Fannie Aliyn.
Rev. William Channing Gannett, D.D.: "What wonder Thomas Paine wrote his strong rank sarcasm! People should remember why he wrote it."
Moncure D. Conway, LL.D.: "It ['Age of Reason'] represents, as no elaborate treatise could, the agony and bloody sweat of a heart breaking in the presence of crucified Humanity. What dear heads, what noble hearts had that man seen laid low; what shrieks had he heard in the desolate homes of the Condorcets, the Brissots; what Canaanite and Midianite massacres had be seen before the altar of Brotherhood, erected by himself! And all because every human being had been taught from his cradle that there is something more sacred than humanity, and to which man should be sacrificed. Of all those massacred thinkers not one voice remains: they have gone silent: over their reeking guillotine sits the gloating Apollyon of Inhumanity. But here is one man, a prisoner, preparing for his long silence. He alone can speak for those slain between the throne and the altar. In these outbursts of laughter and tears, these outcries that think not of literary style, these appeals from surrounding chaos to the starry realm of order, from the tribune of vengeance to the sun shining for all, this passionate horror of cruelty in the powerful which will brave a heartless heaven or hell with its immortal indignation,—in all these the unfettered mind may hear the wail of enthralled Europe, sinking back choked with its blood, under the chain it tried to break. So long as a link remains of the same chain, binding reason or heart, Paine's 'Age of Reason' will live. It is not a mere book—it is a man's heart."
Edgar W. Howe: "The storm that arose over this book was never before equaled: it will never be equaled again."
Dr. Bond (A surgeon belonging to General O'Hara's staff): "Mr. Paine while hourly expecting to die, read to me parts of his 'Age of Reason'; and every night when I left him, to be separately locked up, and expected not to see him alive in the morning, he always expressed his firm belief in the principles of that book, and begged I would tell the world such were his dying opinions."
"The doctrines and sentiments which it contains may justly be regarded as the expressions of a dying man."—D. M. Bennett.
"When it [first part] appeared he was a prisoner; his life in Couthon's hands. He had personally nothing to gain by its publication—neither wife, child, nor relative to reap benefit by its sale. It was published as purely for the good of mankind as any work ever written."—Dr. Conway.
"While in prison he composed the second part, and as he expected every day to be guillotined it was penned in the very presence of death."—George W. Foote.
"Paine deserves whatever credit is due to absolute devotion to a creed believed by himself to be demonstrably true and beneficial. He showed undeniable courage, and is free from any suspicion of mercenary motives."—Sir Leslie Stephen.
Thomas Nixon and Captain Daniel Pelton: "All you have heard of his recanting is false. Being aware that such reports would be raised after his death by fanatics who infested his house at the time it was expected he would die, we, intimate acquaintances of Thomas Paine, since the year 1776, went to his house—he was sitting up in a chair, and apparently in the full vigor and use of all his mental faculties. We interrogated him on his religious opinions, and if he had changed his mind or repented of anything he had said or written on that subject. He answered, 'Not at all.'"
Hon. Francis O. Smith, M. C.: "I have just parted with Hon. Richard M. Johnson, now a member of the House of Representatives [afterwards Vice-President of the United States], who told me that he visited Thomas Paine within the fortnight next preceding Paine's death; that he conversed with Paine and expressed a hope that he might recover; that Paine replied that he should shortly die, that he should never go out of his room again, and requested him to say to Mr. Jefferson that he had not changed his religious opinions in the slightest degree."
Walter Morton (with Paine when he died): "In his religious opinions he continued to the last as steadfast and tenacious as any sectarian to the definition of his own creed."
Dr. Philip Graves: "He [Amasa Woodsworth] told me that he nursed Thomas Paine in his last illness and closed his eyes when he was dead. I asked him if he recanted and called upon God to save him. He replied, 'No. He died as he had taught.'"
John Randel, Jr. (orthodox Christian): "The very worthy mechanic, Amasa Woodsworth, who saw Paine daily, told me there was no truth in such report."
Gilbert Vale, who interviewed Mr. Woodsworth, says: "As an act of kindness, Mr. Woodsworth visited Mr. Paine every day for six weeks before his death; he frequently sat up with him, and did so on the last two nights of his life.... Mr. Woodsworth assures us that he neither heard nor saw anything to justify the belief of any mental change in the opinions of Mr. Paine previous to his death."
The English writer, William Cobbett, a believer in Christianity, who lived for a time in this country, and who made a thorough investigation of the Paine calumnies, says: "Among other things said against this famous man is that he recanted before he died; and that in his last illness he discovered horrible fears of death.... It is a pure, unadulterated falsehood."
Cobbett, in 1819, announced his intention of publishing a biography of Paine. Soon after a pious fanatic of New York, named Collins, attempted to persuade him that Paine had recanted and begged him to state the fact in his book. He had induced a disreputable woman, Mary Hinsdale, an opium fiend, notorious for her lying propensities, to promise that she would tell Cobbett that she had visited Paine during his illness and that he had confessed to her his disbelief in the "Age of Reason" and expressed regret for having published it. Cobbett saw at once that the whole thing was a fraud. Collins, he says, "had a sodden face, a simper, and maneuvered his features precisely like the most perfidious wretch that I have known." However, he called on the woman. But her courage had forsaken her. Concerning the result of his visit he says: "She shuffled; she evaded; she equivocated; she warded off; she affected not to understand me." It was afterward proven that she had not conversed with Paine; that she had never seen him. But it did not need Cobbett's publication of the lie to secure its acceptance by the church. The occupant of nearly every orthodox pulpit was only too willing to publish it. This was the origin of the recantation calumny.
"Had Thomas Paine recanted, every citizen of New York would have heard of it within twenty-four hours. The news of it would have spread to the remotest confines of America and Europe as rapidly as the human agencies of that time could have transmitted it. It took ten years for this startling revelation to reach the ears of his sickbed attendants."—The Fathers of Our Republic.
Rev. Willet Hicks: "I was with him every day during the latter part of his sickness. He died as easy as any one I ever saw die, and I have seen many die."
"Paine died quietly and at peace."—Ellery Sedgwick.
"He died placidly and almost without a struggle."—Gilbert Vale.
"He spent the night in tranquility, and expired in the morning."—Madame Bonneville.
Noble L. Prentiss: "Paine's death-bed terrors were used in the pulpit for a long time. It is probable that they never existed. It is living not dying, that troubles most of us. When the inevitable hour comes; when the lights are being put out, the shutters closed, the end is peace."
Concerning Paine's recanting Colonel Ingersoll says: "He died surrounded by those who hated and despised him,—who endeavored to wring from the lips of death a recantation. But, dying as he was, his soul stood erect to the last moment. Nothing like a recantation could be wrung from the brave lips of Thomas Paine."
Col. John Fellows: "It [the recantation story] was considered by the friends of Mr. Paine generally to be too contemptible to controvert."
"Thomas Paine did not recant. But the church is recanting. On her death-bed tenet after tenet of the absurd and cruel creed which Paine opposed is being renounced by her. Time will witness the renunciation of her last dogma and her death. Then will the vindication of Thomas Paine and the 'Age of Reason' be complete."—The Fathers of Our Republic.
Royal Tyler: "That head which worked such mickle woe to courts and kings."
Dr. Edmund Robinet: "A wise and lucid intellect."
James Thompson Callender: "He possesses both, talent and courage."
Walter Savage Landor:
"Few dared such homely truths to tell, Or wrote our English half so well."
Zells Encyclopedia: "He early distinguished himself by his literary abilities."
Cyclopedia of American Literature: "The merits of Paine's style as a prose writer are very great."
B. F. Underwood: "Thomas Paine's style as a writer, in some respects, has never been equaled. Every sentence that he wrote was suffused with the light of his own luminous mind, and stamped with his own intense individuality of character."
"There is a peculiar originality in his style of thought and expression, his diction is not vulgar or illiterate, but nervous, simple and scientific.... Paine, like the young Spartan warrior, went into the field stripped bare to the last thread of prudent conventional disguise; and thus not only fixed the gaze of men upon his intrepid singularity, but exhibited the vigor of his faculties in full play."—Rev. George Croly.
John Lendrum: "The style, manner, and language of the author is singular and fascinating."
"He was a magnificent writer of the English language."—Henry Frank.
"He is the best English writer we know."—Gilbert Vale.
"Ease, fluidity, grace, imagination, energy, earnestness, mark his style."—Elbert Hubbard.
"Paine is the first American writer who has a literary style, and we have not had so many since but that you may count them on the fingers of one hand."—Ibid.
L. Carroll Judson: "His intellectual powers suddenly burst into a blaze of light."
John Horne Tooke: "You are like Jove coming down upon us in a shower of gold."
"The man who coined the intellectual gold of the Eighteenth Century was Thomas Paine."—L. K. Washburn.
Ebenezer Elliott: "Paine is the greatest master of metaphor I have ever read."
"He was not only master of metaphor, he was master of principles. He imparted life to great ideas."—George Jacob Holyoake.
"The keenness of his intellect was matched by the brilliancy of his imagination. He stated a truth in a way that men could see, hear, and feel it. Take the following epigram: 'To argue with a man who has renounced the use of Reason is like administering medicine to the dead.'"—George W. Foote.
Prof. William Smyth: "Paine is a writer to be numbered with those few who are so supereminently fitted to address the great mass of mankind."
Dr. Charles Botta: "No writer, perhaps, ever possessed in a higher degree the art of moving and guiding the public at his will."
Elroy McKendree Avery: "No writer ever had a greater influence upon the events of his own time than he."
"He threw the charms of poetry over the statue of reason," says Stephen Simpson, "and made converts to liberty as if a power of fascination presided over his pen."
John Adolphus: "He took with great judgment, a correct aim at the feelings and prejudices of those whom he intended to influence."
Hezekiah Butterworth: "He had a surprising power of direct forcible argument."
William Hazlitt: "Paine affected to reduce things to first principles, to announce self-evident truths."
W. J. Fox, M. P.: "A keen and powerful intellect, and a philosophical mind going to the foundation of every question; bringing first principles forward in a luminous and impressive manner.
Robert James Mackintosh: "His strong coarse sense and bold dogmatism conveyed in an instinctively popular style made Paine a dangerous enemy always."
M. Gerard: "You know too well the prodigious effects produced by the writings of this celebrated personage."
Madame Roland: "The boldness of his conceptions, the originality of his style, the striking truths which he boldly throws out in the midst of those whom they offend, must necessarily have produced great effects."
Edward C. Reichwald: "He was an intellectual gladiator who won his victories upon the field of thought."
Boston Herald: "There is no better illustration in all history than exists in Paine's writings of Bulwer's aphorism, 'The pen is mightier than the sword.'"
Hon. John J. Lentz, M. C.: "The pen of the author of 'Common Sense' and the 'Crisis' did more to liberate the Colonies than did the sword of the commander in chief of the Colonial armies."
Prof. William Denton: "The pen of Paine accomplished more for American liberty than the sword of Washington."
General Lee of Revolutionary fame says: "The pen of Thomas Paine did more to achieve our Independence than did the sword of Washington." Joel Barlow, one of the most popular literary men of his time, a chaplain in the American Revolution and a fellow-worker of Paine for political liberty, both in England and France, says: "We may venture to say, without fear of contradiction, that the great American cause owed as much to the pen of Paine as to the sword of Washington." Even Paine's vilest calumniator, Cheetham, makes this admission: "His pen was an appendage to the army as necessary and as formidable as its cannon."
Reuben Post Halleck, L.L. D.: "Some have said that the pen of Thomas Paine was worth more to the cause of liberty than twenty thousand men. In the darkest hours he inspired the colonists with hope and enthusiasm... He had an almost Shakespearean intuition of what would appeal to the exigencies of each case."
"The real man back of the American Revolution was the man who had the ideas and not the man behind the guns.... Paine fought with the weapon of the future, and he was one of the very first that made it powerful. Paine's weapon was the pen, not the sword. Washington conquered small groups of men that had been living twenty or thirty years, but Thomas Paine conquered the prejudices of thousands of years."—Herbert N. Casson.
Thomas Jefferson: "These two persons [Lord Bolingbroke and Thomas Paine] differed remarkably in the style of their writings, each leaving a model of what is most perfect in both extremes of the simple' and the sublime. No writer has exceeded Paine in ease and familiarity of style, in perspicuity of expression, happiness of elucidation, and in simple and unassuming language."
Abraham Lincoln: "I never tire of reading Paine."
Capel Lofft: "I am glad Paine is living: he cannot be even wrong without enlightening mankind, such is the vigor of his intellect, such the acuteness of his research, and such the force and vivid perspicuity of his expression."
Augustine Birrell, M. P.: "Paine was without knowing it, a born journalist. His capacity for writing on the spur of the moment was endless, and his delight in doing so was boundless."
Rev. Dr. Lyman Abbott: "He was perhaps the most popular pamphleteer of the country."
Library of The World's Best Literature: "The pamphlets of Thomas Paine were doubtless in their time 'half battles.' Clear, logical, homely, by turns warning, appealing, commanding, now sharply satirical, now humorous, now pathetic, always desperately in earnest, always written in admirably simple English, they constituted their author, in the judgment of many, the foremost pamphleteer of the eighteenth century."
Lord Brougham: "The most remarkable spirit in pamphlet literature was Thomas Paine.... His style was a model of terseness and force."
"This singular power of clear, vigorous exposition made him unequaled as a pamphleteer."—Sir Leslie Stephen.
London Times (June 8, 1909): "Paine was the greatest of pamphleteers; more potent in influence on affairs than Swift, Beaumarchais, or Courier, more varied in his activity than any of them; his words influencing the actors in two of the chief political revolutions of the world and prime movers in a religious revolution scarcely less important."
"Perhaps someone, even in far off times, digging in the past, will come upon his books and will say, 'These were not words; they were events, in political history. This was a born leader who could make men march to victory or defeat.'"
Manchester Guardian (June 8, 1909): "He and his works became the great influence which set up everywhere constitutional societies and encouraged political and religious freedom of thought. He became the interpreter to England of the principles of the two Revolutions, and his words and ideas leavened speculations among the masses of the English people, and still leaven them today. We may forget him or remember him awry, but the very stuff of our brains is woven in the loom of his devising."
James K. Hosmer, LL. D.: "Few writers have exerted a more powerful influence since the world began, if the claim set forth at the time and never refuted be just, that his 'Common Sense' made possible the Declaration of Independence and therefore the United States of America."
Constitutional Gazette (Feb. 24, 1776): "The author introduces [in 'Common Sense'] a new system of polices as widely different from the old as the Copernican system is from the Ptolemaic. This extraordinary performance contains as surprising a discovery in politics as the works of Sir Isaac Newton do in philosophy."
"It would be difficult to name any human composition which has had an effect at once so instant, so extended and so lasting."—Sir George Trevelyan.
Paul Louis Courrier (1824): "Never did any portly volume effect so much for the human race. Rallying all hearts and minds to the party of Independence, it decided the issue of that great conflict which, ended for America, is still proceeding all over the rest of the world."
"Incisive sentences,... as direct and vivid in their appeal as any sentences of Swift."—Woodrow Wilson.
"Like a thunderbolt from the sky came Paine's magnificent argument for liberty... No pamphlet ever written sold in such vast numbers, nor did any ever before or since produce such marvelous results."—Ella Wheeler Wilcox.
"Who could with almost one stroke of his pen, turn the people in a radically new direction? Who must exert an influence that had never, in any crisis of history, been exerted by one man before? The American Republic today, with its illimitable glory and belting a continent, can only reply: Thomas Paine!"—Samuel P. Putnam.
"The soul of Thomas Paine went forth in that book. Every line of it glittered with the fires of his brain. It was written as a poet writes his song.... It was like the flowing of a fountain, the sweep of a wind, the rush of a comet."—Ibid.
The publication of Thomas Paine's immortal pamphlet, 'Common Sense,' will ever deserve to rank among the supremely important events of history. The farther we are removed from it in time the larger it will loom."—Rev. Thomas B. Gregory.
"This work marks an era in the history of the world. Its interest will last longer than nations."—Hon. Elizur Wright.
Universal Magazine (April, 1793. From a review of the "Rights of Man."): "And now courteous reader, we leave Mr. Paine entirely to thy mercy; what wilt thou say of him? Wilt thou address him? 'Thou art a troubler of privileged orders—we will tar and feather thee; nobles abhor thee, and kings think thee mad!' Or wilt thou put on thy spectacles, study Mr. Paine's physiognomy, purchase his print, hang it over thy chimney-piece, and, pointing to it, say: 'this is no common man!'"
"Those who know the book ['Rights of Man'] only by hearsay as the work of a furious incendiary would be surprised at the dignity, force and temperance of the style."—Encyclopedia Britannica.
"The 'Rights of Man' is acknowledged to be the greatest work ever written for political freedom. This masterpiece gave free speech, and a free press to England and America."—Ella Wheeler Wilcox.
"The thinking men of England now revere the memory of Thomas Paine for his great work in the nation's behalf. The most important of the many reforms England has undertaken in the century that has elapsed since it outlawed Paine have been brought about by Paine's masterly work."—Elbert Hubbard.
"The 'Rights of Man' will never die so long as men have rights."—Alice Hubbard.
Richard Henry Lee: "It is a performance of which any man might be proud."
"The 'Rights of Man' will be more enduring than all the piles of marble and granite man can erect."—Andrew Jackson.
Dr. Frank Crane: "It deserves a place among the dozen epoch-making books of the race.... It is a milestone in human development that marks a point of progress that never can be retraced."
General Arthur O'Connor:
"I prize above all earthly things The 'Rights of Man' and Common Sense.'"
Prof. Edward McChesney Sait: "Many names which were famous in the revolutionary period of the eighteenth century are heard no more; but the name of Thomas Paine still lives. It will never die; those noble writings, 'Common Sense' and 'Rights of Man,' like the verses of the Roman poet, are more lasting than bronze."
Marie Joseph Chenier: "Notable epoch in the life of this philosopher who opposed the arms of 'Common Sense' to the sword of tyranny, 'the 'Rights of Man' to the machiavelism of English politicians; and who by two immortal works has deserved well of the human race."
Victor Robinson: "Another immortal work was being penned behind French prison-bars and the hand which held the pen was the hand of Thomas Paine."
"There shone on Paine's cell in the Luxembourg a great and imperishable vision, which multitudes are still following."—Dr. Conway.
M. M. Mangasarian: "In his dungeon his pen dropped light into the darkness of Europe and America by writing the 'Age of Reason.'"
"One of the most wonderful books ever written." Edgar W. Howe.
"The 'Age of Reason' defies the grave where other books of his generation sleep."—George E. Macdonald.
"Not only the one great skeptical work of his time, but the only one which seems destined to live for all time."—J. P. Bland.
"Paine's 'Age of Reason' is a masterpiece of Rationalistic literature."—William H. Maple.
"It is a masterpiece in every particular—sound, logical and truthful."—Sir Hiram Maxim.
"There are the most varied graces of literary style, a profound and gentle philosophy, and a genuine love of humanity."—William Heaford.
Mimnermus (England): "Out of the charnel-vault of Kingcraft and Priestcraft, Rousseau and the other great French Freethinkers saw in vision the ideal society of the future. Of this new evangel Paine was the prophet and Shelley was the poet.... In the 'Rights of Man' and the 'Age of Reason,' no less than in the 'Revolt of Islam' and 'Prometheus Unbound,' the expression glows with the solemn and majestic inspiration of prophecy."
John M. Robertson, M. P.: "The enduring popularity of the chief works of Thomas Paine is not the least remarkable fact in the history of opinion. It is given to few controversial writers to keep a large audience during a hundred years."
"In Paine's public life there are three great tidal periods—the period when he was helping more than any other to make the Revolution in America; the period when, having come to Europe, after the American Revolution, he published the 'Rights of Man' and laid in England the foundations of a new democracy in the very teeth of the great reaction of which Burke was the prophet; and lastly, the period when, after his hopes from the French Revolution had substantially failed, and he expected death as his own meed, he wrote his 'Age of Reason,' significantly making his last blow the most deadly of all his strokes at the reign of tradition."
New York World: "The man whose 'Common Sense,' by Washington's testimony, 'worked a powerful change in the minds of men' toward American independence; who in the 'Rights of Man' demolished Burke's attack on the French Revolution so completely that the British government resorted to its suppression, and who in France set the world aflame with persecution mania by the 'Age of Reason,' certainly made good in three countries his title to literary rank and political power." "The three mightiest contributions of political and religious freedom which mankind had known came from the brain of Thomas Paine. What he wrote changed the whole civilized world."—L. K. Washburn.
Rev. E. P. Powell (referring to the "Crisis"): "Words of fire and logic that rang like a berserker's sword on his shield."
"The 'Crisis' is contained in sixteen numbers. They comprise a truer history of that event [American Revolution] than does any professed history of it yet written. They comprise the soul of it."—Calvin Blanchard.
"Of utterances by the pen none have achieved such vast results as Paine's 'Common Sense' and his first 'Crisis.'"—Dr. Conway.
In addition to his three literary masterpieces and the "Crisis" Paine wrote many remarkable books and pamphlets, the more important of which are the following: "Public Good," Philadelphia, 1780; "Letter to Abbé Raynal," Philadelphia, 1782; "Dissertation on Government," Philadelphia, 1786; "Prospects on the Rubicon," London, 1787; "Address of Société Républicaine," Paris, 1791; "Address to the Adressers," London, 1792; "Plea for Life of Louis Capet," "French Constitution of '93," Paris, 1793; "On First Principles of Government," Paris, 1795; "Decline and Fall of the English System of Finance," published in all the languages of Europe. 1796; "Agrarian Justice," "Letter to Camille Jordan, Paris, 1797; "Essay on Dreams," "Examination of Prophecies," New York, 1807; "Reply to Bishop of Llandaff," New York, 1810; "Miscellaneous Poems,"'London, 1819.
"These [Paine's books] were battles, victories—the simplest, yet the grand and notorious facts of that wondrous war and age."—T. B. Wakeman.
M. de Bonneville, the noted French journalist and Revolutionary leader, and the almost constant companion of Paine during the ten or more years that he resided in Paris, says: "All his pamphlets have been popular and powerful. He wrote with composure and steadiness, as if under the guidance of a tutelary genius. If, for an instant, he stopped, it was always in the attitude of a man who listens. The Saint Jerome of Raphael would give a perfect idea of his contemplative recollection, to listen to the voice from on high which makes itself heard in the heart."
"When the old traditions of prejudice have passed, away, Paine's name will have its due place not only in our political but in our literary history, as that of a man of native genius whose prose bears being read beside that of Burke on the same theme, and who found in sincerity the secret of a nobler eloquence than his antagonists could draw from their stores of literature or the fountain of their ill-will."—John M. Robertson.
"He was a great writer. Cobbett knew it, Hazlitt knew it, and Landor knew it."—George W. Foote.
George Brandes: "One of the largest figures in our literary history."
Mrs. M. E. Cadwallader: "His writings have become classics. They Will live when those who vilified him are forgotten."
Pittsburgh Press: "The science of criticism, like the spectrum analysis which reveals the composition of the stars, points unerringly to Thomas Paine as the only man who could have indited that greatest of literary masterpieces, the Declaration of Independence."
That the Declaration of Independence is, in its entirety, the work of Paine probably can not be proven. That he had much to do with its composition, however, can scarcely be doubted. The circumstances attending its adoption warrant the assumption, and the style of the document confirms it. Knowing the marvelous power of Paine's pen, knowing that with it he had led the people to demand independence, to suppose that he would not be consulted, that his services would not be solicited in regard to its preparation is incredible. Had he been a member of the Continental Congress he certainly would have been selected to draft the document. He was the soul of the movement and its literary leader. The historian Gaspey says: "The Government took no steps of importance without consulting him." The fact that his name was not mentioned in connection with its authorship at the time argues nothing. Had he written every word of it neither he nor the Committee could with propriety have divulged its authorship. The authorship of state papers and other public documents is assumed by, and credited to, the officials issuing them and not to the persons who may have been employed to draft them.
"There is much evidence, both internal and external, in the Declaration, that some other person than Jefferson was the writer. There is much evidence, internal and external, that the author was Thomas Paine."—W. M. van der Weyde.
A noted writer, Albert Payson Terhune, presents the following as the principal arguments that have been adduced in support of Paine's authorship of the Declaration of Independence:
"The Declaration's first draft contained the phrase: 'Scotch and foreign mercenaries.' Jefferson was fond of the Scotch, and had two Scotch tutors; whereas Paine openly hated Scotland and its people.
"The first draft contained the word 'hath' This word is said to be found nowhere else in Jefferson's writings, while it abounds in Paine's.
"There was also in this draft a sharp rebuke to the British king for his introducing slavery into his provinces. Jefferson was a slave-holder; Paine hated slavery.
"That Jefferson, an owner of slaves, should have declared 'all men to be equal' and 'entitled to liberty,' has always seemed inconsistent.
"Though unjust taxation was one of the Revolution's chief causes, it receives very slight mention in the Declaration. Jefferson was supposedly a foe to such taxation. Paine considered the taxation problem merely as a side issue.
"Paine's notions concerning government as set forth in his 'Common Sense' are largely embodied in the Declaration.
"Jefferson's style of writing was easy and graceful. Paine's was forceful, terse, pointed. The Declaration is couched far more in the latter style than in the former.
"Phrases and words dear to Paine are scattered broadcast through the document.
"The expression 'Nature and Nature's God' fit in with Paine's favorite theory that God was to be found in Nature."
"Almost a century ago an American newspaper claimed to have proof that Jefferson did not write the Declaration, and strongly hinted that Paine wrote it.
"Jefferson, it is said, never formally claimed the authorship until after Paine's death, and was always reticent on the subject."
Walton Williams: "Ever since the Revolution there has been a tradition in certain parts of the country that the real author of the Declaration of Independence was Thomas Paine. The storm of opprobrium that beat upon Paine's name because af his religious writings almost eradicated this tradition."
Jefferson lived fifty years after the Declaration appeared. During all this time—and his silence is significant—he never claimed the authorship of the document except in the epitaph which he is said to have prepared for his tombstone. He was its accredited author and in an official sense was its author, and in this sense the claim made in his epitaph is admissible.
Nearly seventy years ago George M. Dallas, then Vice President of the United States, and an admirer of Jefferson, contended that Paine wrote the Declaration.
"Whoever may have written the Declaration, Paine was its author."—William Cobbett.
New York Sun: "In addition to his great responsibility for the literary form of the Declaration of Independence, he contributed to literature a number of phrases which have held a place."
"His phrase, 'These are the times that try men's souls,' illuminates that gigantic struggle [American Revolution] and has become one of the shibboleths of liberty."—Michael Monahan.
"No life was ever attuned to a nobler sentiment—'Where liberty is not there is my home.'"—Dr. Lucy Waite.
"'The world is my country, to do good my religion." Was ever nobler thought conceived than this?"—Eva Ingersoll Brown.
"Had Paine given to the world nothing more than that matchless phrase which he adopted as his motto, 'The world is my country; to do good is my religion,' I should still feel that he was indeed entitled to a supernal position in the galleries of Fame."—Elbert Hubbard.
"A jewel which sparkles forever on the outstretched forefinger of Time."—George W. Foote.
Peter Eckler: "Paine's political and religious writings exerted an immense influence in America, England and France during his life, and since his death that beneficent influence has increased and extended throughout the civilized world."
Horace Seaver: "Paine's writings are a noble monument to the loftiness of his aims, the brilliancy of his genius, the wealth of benevolence in his heart, and the breadth and power of his intellect."
Horace Traubel: "He will always stand there, immortal in history, a contemporary giant in whose aggressiveness and fortitude political literature discovered a new epoch. He will ever be ranked with the masters in theological innovation."
General Nathaniel Greene: "Your fame for your writings will be immortal."
Ella Wheeler Wilcox: "Paine was not only a great author and statesman, but he was distinctly a pioneer, an originator, an inventor and creator. To him we are indebted for many of the world's greatest ideas and reforms."
Winwood Reade: "One of Thomas Paine's first productions was an article against slavery."
Universal Cyclopedia: "Published in Bradford's Pennsylvania Journal [Magazine] in March, 1775, an article entitled 'African Slavery in America,' which probably hastened the first American Anti-Slavery Society, April 14, 1775."
Referring to this article Dr. Conway, one of the apostles of anti-slavery, says: "It is a most remarkable article. Every argument and appeal, moral, religious, military, economic, familiar in our subsequent anti-slavery struggle is here found stated with eloquence and clearness."
In the very month that Paine lay down in his last illness there was born the man who was to complete the work he had begun. On the first of January, 1863, Abraham Lincoln pronounced the doom of slavery. In this essay of Paine and in the Emancipation Proclamation of Lincoln we have the beginning and the end—the prologue and the epilogue—of the Anti-Slavery drama in America.
"It is a significant fact that a paragraph in favor of the abolition of slavery in America, which is surmised to haye been inserted through Paine's influence, in the Declaration of Independence was struck out.... Had Paine's humane suggestion been adopted the United States would have been saved the agony and bloody sweat of the Civil. War."—Hector Macpherson, Scotland.
"In sorrow and bitterness and bloodshed Lincoln wrought the cure for the evil which Paine tried peacefully to prevent."—Mrs. Bradlaugh-Bonner, England.
George W. Foote: "In America the first to publicly demand the liberation of the slaves was Thomas Paine. Paine also partly drafted and signed the Act of Pennsylvania abolishing slavery—the first of its kind in the whole of Christendom."
Paine was not only the first to advocate the abolition of domestic slavery in America, he was also a pioneer in the movement which secured the abolition of the slave trade in America and Great Britain.
When Louisiana demanded statehood with "the right to continue the importation of slaves," from Paine came this stinging rebuke: "Dare you put up a petition to Heaven for such power, without fearing to be struck from the earth by its justice? Why, then, do you ask it of man against man? Do you want to renew in Louisiana the horrors of Domingo?"
Alfred E. Fletcher: "Paine was the first man in America to demand freedom for the slave, to urge international arbitration, justice for women and more rational ideas as to marriage and divorce."
"In his August (1775) number [Pennsylvania Magazine] is found the earliest American plea for woman."—Dr. Conway.
"His pen is unmistakable in 'Reflections on Unhappy Marriages' (June 1775)."—Ibid.
"The first man in history to speak in clear cut tones for the rights of woman."—Josephine K. Henry.
"Today we dare to affirm that women as well as men have rights. Paine was the pioneer of this thought."—Alice Hubbard.
Hon. Robert A. Dague: "If I am asked to whom are women indebted for the enlarged liberty they now enjoy, my answer is, to Thomas Paine, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony, and to the Universalists, Unitarians, Spiritualists and Agnostics."
London Daily News: "He was always a man of peace, and to him is due the first project of international arbitration. He was the first publicist in America to declare for the emancipation of slaves, the first to champion the cause of woman, to insist upon the rights of animals, and to expose the criminal folly of dueling."
"He condemned dueling, and the deliberate or thoughtless ill-treatment of animals. He spoke up against negro slavery quite as emphatically as against hereditary privileges and religious intolerance. He advocated international arbitration; international and internal copyright."—Sir George Trevelyan.
George H. Putxam: "Paine wrote on the necessity of a copyright law in 1782, a year before Noah Webster canvassed the legislatures of the New England states in behalf of such a law.... In 1792, as a member of the French Convention, Paine made a statement of the principles of international copyright of the author's right in literary work."
Nannie McCormick Coleman: "In 1783, while a member of Congress, Hamilton urgently sought to have a [Constitutional] Convention called. In the same year... Thomas Paine contributed addresses to the public to the same effect."
Paine proposed a constitutional government and a constitutional convention as early as 1776.
Referring to our Constitutional Convention Prof. Alexander Johnston of Princeton University says: "Thomas Paine had suggested it as long ago as his 'Common Sense' pamphlet: 'Let a continental conference to be held to frame a continental charter.'"
Not only was Paine the first to propose a constitutional government for the United States, the framers of the Constitution adopted to a large extent his political ideas. Referring to the principles advocated in his "Dissertation on Government" Dr. Conways says: "In the next year those principles were embodied in the Constitution; and in 1792, when a State pleaded its sovereign right to repudiate a contract the Supreme Court affirmed every contention of Paine's pamphlet, using his ideas and sometimes his very phrases."
Bankers' Magazine: "The Bank of North America, at Philadelphia, organized to assist the government during the War of Independence, is admitted to be the first bank in the United States, but it is not generally known that Thomas Paine was the man in whose brain the bank was born and who was the first subscriber to its stock."
Columbia Encyclopedia: "Paine was chosen by Napoleon to introduce a popular form of government into Britain after the Frenchman should have invaded and conquered the island."
William Milligan Sloane, LL. D.: "Thomas Paine exercised his power as a pamphleteer on the theme of England's approaching bankruptcy, while the public crowded one of the theatres [in Paris] to stare at stage pictures representing the invasion of England."
Paine prepared plans for this invasion which were adopted by the French Directory. Two hundred and fifty gun-boats were speedily built for the purpose. Then Napoleon abandoned the expedition against England for the one against Egypt.
Paine's approval of this proposed invasion of England was not inspired by a spirit of revenge because of his persecution by the English Government, but by a sincere love of its people, seeing in it the only means of delivering them from the intolerable tyranny of George III. and his Ministry. Napoleon at this time had not manifested that insatiable thirst for blood which at a later period made him the scourge of Europe.
James A. Edgerton, A. M.: "Thomas Paine first suggested American Independence. He first suggested the Federal Union of the States. He first proposed the abolition of negro slavery. He first suggested [in Christendom] protection for dumb animals. He first suggested equal rights for women. He first proposed old age pensions. He first suggested the education of poor children at public expense. He first proposed arbitration and international peace. He suggested a great republic of all the nations of the world."
To the claims made in behalf of Paine by Mr. Edgerton and others the following may be added: He was one of the founders, if not the real founder, of modern journalism. He labored to provide better facilities for the education of young women. His contributions to hygienic science were invaluable. His knowledge of astronomy was profound; he affirmed the belief that the fixed stars were suns twenty years before Herschel. His views regarding taxation were wise and just. He was an advocate of land reform. He was recognized as the ablest authority of his time on paper money. He was one of the framers of the Constitution of Pennsylvania.
Not only was Paine the real founder of our Republic; he was largely instrumental in securing for it the greatest of its subsequent acquisitions of territory. He shares with Jefferson the honor of being the first to propose the purchase from Napoleon of the province of Louisiana, an empire in extent—reaching from Florida to the Pacific and to what is now British Columbia, a distance of three thousand miles—a territory three times as large as the original United States of America and from which have been formed, wholly or in part, eighteen of the most important states in the Union.
Nearly half a century before Comte, Paine taught the Religion of Humanity.
"In 1778 he wrote his sublime sentence about the 'Religion of Humanity.'"—Dr. Conway.
"I have discovered that Paine not only wrote those words, 'the Religion of Humanity,'... but he was the real author by this discovery of all laws of social science which is called sociology, now the queen of the sciences.... If Paine was the real leader in that discovery he stands by the side of Copernicus, Newton, Darwin, Comte, Spencer and Ward, and the beneficent results and glory of this discovery, and its discoverer, are beyond the words of any mind at present to describe."—Prof. T. B. Wakeman.
"That his Religion of Humanity took the deistical form was an evolutionary necessity."—Dr. Conway.
"The prophet of the Religion of Humanity and the precursor of our modern Monism."—Prof. Ernst Haeckel.
"How few there are who realize that Thomas Paine anticipated Spencer's thought [equal liberty] by many decades, that, more briefly and graphically, he formulated the only principle that can weave enduring order and peace into the fabric of society."—Edwin C. Walker.
Leonard Abbott: "Paine's mind was germinal: in it were the seeds of all modern religious, economical, and political movements."
William H. Maple: "The light of truth fell in such grand refulgence upon this man as to enable him to utter truisms enough to furnish texts for reformers for a thousand years to come."
"The moral originality and courage of his teaching in every direction is astonishing."—John M. Robertson.
Stephen Pearl Andrews: "The true chief-priest of humanity is the man who solves the greatest obstacles in the progress of mankind; and you must not be surprised if I rank Thomas Paine not only as a priest, but as perhaps the real chief-priest, or pontifex-maximus of his age."
Joel Barlow: "The biographer of Thomas Paine should not forget his mathematical acquirements and his mechanical genius. His invention of the iron bridge, which led him to Europe in 1787, has procured him a great reputation in that branch of science in France and England."
M. Chaptal: "They [plans for iron bridge over Seine] will be of the greatest utility to us when the new kind of construction goes to be executed for the first time.... You have rights of more than one kind to the gratitude of nations."
International Encyclopedia: "In 1787 Paine went to France, where he exhibited his bridge to the Academy of Science in Paris. He also visited England, and was lionized in London by the party of Burke and Fox. He set up the model of his bridge in Addington Green, and huge crowds went to see it."
"This [model of iron bridge] was publicly exhibited in Paris and London and attracted great crowds."—Encyclopedia Britannica.
Sir Ralph Milbank: "With respect to the bridge over the river Wear at Sunderland, it certainly is a work well deserving admiration both for its structure, durability, and utility, and I have good grounds for saying that the first idea was taken from Mr. Paine's bridge exhibited at Paddington."
Mr. Foljambe, M. P.: "I saw the rib of your [Paine's] bridge. In point of elegance and beauty it far exceeded my expectations and is certainly beyond anything I ever saw."
George Stephenson: "If we are to consider Paine as its [the iron bridge's] author, his daring in engineering certainly does full justice to the fervor of his political career."
When the building of the Brooklyn bridge was celebrated the Rev. Robert Collyer called attention to the fact that to Thomas Paine belonged the credit of inventing the iron bridge and deplored the ignorance and prejudice which had caused the speakers to ignore it.
Sir Richard Phillips: "In 1778 Thomas Paine proposed, in America, this application of steam [the steamboat]."
Watson's Annals of Philadelphia: "In June, 1785, John Fitch called on the ingenious William Henry, Esq., of Lancaster, to take his opinion of his draughts, who informed him that he (Fitch) was not the first person who had thought of applying steam to vessels, for that Thomas Paine, author of 'Common Sense,' had suggested the same to him (Henry) in the winter of 1778."
Concerning Paine's connection with this invention Dr. Conway says: "Among his intimate friends at this time [about 1796] was Robert Fulton, then residing in Paris. Paine's extensive studies of the steam engine and his early discovery of its adaptability to navigation had caused Rumsey to seek him in England and Fitch to consult him both in, America and Paris. Paine's connection with the invention of the steamboat was recognized by Fulton as, indeed, by all of his scientific contemporaries. To Fulton he freely gave his ideas" (Life of Paine, vol. ii, p. 280). "In the controversy between Rumsey and Fitch, Paine's priority to both is conceded" (Ibid).
"A machine for planing boards was his next invention."—Madame Bonneville.
James Parton: "A benefactor... who conceived the planing machine and the iron bridge. A glorious monument to his honor swells aloft in many of our great towns. The principle of his arch now sustains the marvelous railroad depots that half abolish the distinction between in-doors and out."
In a letter to Jefferson, in 1801, Paine anticipates and suggests the explosive engine of today.
"The explosive engines which now drive machines over highways and waters and through the air are the perfection of Paine's explosive power."—A. Outram Sherman.
One of Paine's minor inventions which attracted the attention and received the approval of Franklin was an improved light.
Another invention, an improved carriage wheel, was greatly admired. After Paine's death Robert Fulton made a drawing of the model and deposited it at Washington.
Robert R. Livingston (to Paine in Paris): "Make your will; leave the mechanics, the iron bridge, the wheels, etc., to America."
Joseph N. Moreau: "The Archimedes of the eighteenth century."
Elihu Palmer: "Probably the most useful man that ever lived."
Refutation of Charges of Immorality.
"Paine who wrote in man's defense, 'Rights of Man' and 'Common Sense, Let not pious virulence Stain his honest fame."
Paine has been represented by his religious enemies as the embodiment of all that is bad. He was, they assert, drunken, filthy, and immoral. Banished from respectable society, he associated, they say, only with the low and vile. The following testimony covers all the years that elapsed from the beginning of his public career to the end of his life.
Dr. Franklin, writing from England while Paine was yet a resident of that country, says: "Mr. Thomas Paine is very well recommended to me as an ingenious worthy young man."
That his previous life had been above serious reproach is shown by a letter to the Excise Office in which he says: "No complaint of the least dishonesty or intemperance has ever appeared against me."
James B. Elliot: "Paine's pamphlet ['Case of the Officers of Excise'] secured for him the acquaintance of Oliver Goldsmith, who became and remained his friend until his death, and by whom he was introduced to Benjamin Franklin."
"At a coffeehouse in London Paine met that other great thinker, Franklin. They became fast friends."—Elbert Hubbard.
"Invited by Franklin he went to America."—Encyclopedia of Social Reform.
"His associates in Philadelphia were people of the highest respectability and importance.... He was welcomed everywhere."—James B. Elliott.
Referring to his first year in America Bancroft says: "In that time he had frequented the society of Rittenhouse, Clymer and Samuel Adams." Dr. Rush says: "He visited in the families of Dr. Franklin, Mr. Rittenhouse and Mr. George Clymer." Referring to the members of the Philosophical Society, founded by Franklin, Dr. Conway says: "Paine was welcomed into their circle by Rittenhouse, Clymer, Rush, Muhlenberg, and other representatives of the scientific and literary metropolis."
Writing in his journal at a later period John Hall, the English mechanician who then resided in Philadelphia, mentions among Paine's visitors and intimate associates Franklin, Gouverneur Morris, Dr. Rush, Tench Francis, Robert Morris, Rittenhouse, etc.
The Library of the World's Best Literature alludes to scientific experiments made by Paine "for the entertainment of Washington whose guest he was for some time."
Francis Marion Lemmon: "When my father [a son of one of Washington's officers] was about twelve years of age he was employed by George Washington to carry messages from his military camp to that of his father and other military posts, and for about four years lived as one of the family of Washington. It was my father's privilege during his service with Washington to meet and become acquainted with a number of the most popular and influential men of that time—such as Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Paine, General Lafayette and General Francis Marion.... My father told me, when I was a boy, of the visits these men paid to Uncle George and Aunt Martha Washington, as he always called them, and he told me that Aunt Martha always called Paine 'Brother Tom' and always looked forward when a visit of Brother Tom was expected."
Alluding to Paine's conduct and public services during the Revolution, Dr. Conway says:
"They are best measured in the value set on them by the great leaders most cognizant of them,—by Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Robert Morris, Chancellor Livingston, R. H. Lee, Colonel Laurens, General Greene, Dickinson. Had there been anything dishonorable or mercenary in Paine's career, these are the men who would have known it; but their letters are searched in vain for even the faintest hint of anything disparaging to his patriotic self-devotion during those eight weary years."
Henry Adams: "Thomas Paine, down to the time of his departure for Europe, in 1787, was a fashionable member of society [in New York], admired and courted as the greatest literary genius of his day."
The oldest and one of the most powerful political organizations in this country, outside of the regular political parties, is the Tammany Society of New York. Whatever shortcomings may be justly charged to this society in later times it was in its earlier days, when devoted mainly to social and benevolent purposes, one of the most honorable and respectable of societies. Paine was the hero of this society.
Dr. Conway says: "At the great celebration (October 12, 1792) of the Third Centenary of the discovery of America, by the sons of St. Tammany, New York, the first man toasted after Columbus was Paine, and next to Paine 'The Rights of Man,' They were also extolled in an ode composed for the occasion, and sung." Paine was at this time a resident of France.
"Visited France in the summer of 1787, where he made the acquaintance of Buffon, Malesherbes, La Rochefoucauld, and other eminent men."—Chambers' Encyclopedia.
"Dr. Robinet, the French historian, says on this visit (1787) Paine, who had long known the 'soul of the people,' came into' relation with eminent men of all groups, philosophical and political—Condorcet, Achille Duchatelet, Cardinal De Brienne, and, he believes also Danton, who like the English republican [Paine] was a Freemason."—Dr. Conway.
Gilbert Patten Brown (in Masonic Monthly, July, 1916): "In the St. John's Regimental Lodge (the first Masonic body to be constituted among the troops) Thomas Paine (like Capt. James Monroe, Capt. John Marshall and many other of minor mention) was entered, crafted and raised a Master Mason."
Franklin, who in 1774 introduced Paine to the New World as "an ingenious worthy young man" in 1787, after an acquaintance of thirteen years, reaffirms his former estimate of the man. In a letter of introduction to the Duke of Rochefoucauld he says: "The bearer of this is Mr. Paine, the author of a famous piece entitled 'Common Sense,' published with great effect on the minds of the people at the beginning of the Revolution. He is an ingenious, honest man; and as such I beg leave to recommend him to your civilities."
Lamb's Biographical Dictionary: "Visiting London, he at once became a social and diplomatic feature of that metropolis."
Thomas "Clio" Rickman: "Mr. Paine's life in London was a quiet round of philosophical leisure and enjoyment.... Lord Edward Fitzgerald, the French and American embassadors, Mr. Sharp, the engraver, Romney, the painter, Mrs. Wollstonecraft, Joel Barlow,... Dr. Priestley,... Mr. Horne Tooke, etc., were among the number of his friends and acquaintances."
"His manners were easy and gracious; his knowledge was universal and boundless; in private company and among his friends his conversation had every fascination that anecdote, novelty and truth could give it."
"Mr. Paine in his person was about five feet ten inches high, and rather athletic.... His eye, of which the painter could not convey the exquisite meaning, was full, brilliant and singularly piercing."
Alexander Wilson: "The penetration and intelligence of his eye bespeak the man of genius."
John Adams, in a letter to his wife, refers to Paine as "a man who, General Lee says, has genius in his eyes." Carlyle describes him as "the man with the black beaming eyes." Walter Morton, who was with him when he died, says, "His eye glistened with genius under the pangs of death."
Dr. Thomas Cooper: "I have dined with Mr. Paine in literary society, in London, at least a dozen times, when his dress, manners, and conversation were such as became the character of an unobtrusive intelligent gentleman, accustomed to good society."
Regarding Paine's associations in England his biographer, Dr. Conway, says: "There [Rotherham] and in London he was 'lionized' as Franklin had been in Paris. We find him now passing a week with Edmund Burke, now at the country seat of the Duke of Portland, or enjoying the hospitalities of Lord Fitzwilliam at Wentworth House. He is entertained and consulted on public affairs by Fox, Lord Landsdowne, Sir George Staunton, Sir Joseph Banks."
"The Americans in London—the artists West and Trumbull, the Alexanders (Franklin's connections), and others were fond of him as a friend and proud of him as a countryman."—Ibid.
"His personal acquaintance," says Dr. Conway, "included nearly every great or famous man of his time, in England, America, France."
Paine not only enjoyed the friendship and esteem of the notables of the world, he was the idol of the common people who knew him. Before the Revolution in France began he spent two years in England, engaged a part of the time perfecting his iron bridge. The leading manufacturing firm of Rotherham encouraged him and fitted up a shop for him to work in. Nearly a half century later Professor Lesley of Philadelphia, then a young man, visited Rotherham. Notwithstanding the long time that had elapsed he found Paine's memory still green and one of the cherished possessions of Yorkshire. The results of his visit are thus related by Dr. Conway:
"Professor Lesley of Philadelphia tells me that when visiting in early life the works at Rotherham, Paine's workshop and the very tools he used were pointed out. They were preserved with care. He conversed with an aged and intelligent workman who had worked under Paine as a lad. Professor Lesley, who had shared some of the prejudice against Paine, was impressed by the earnest words of the old man. Mr. Paine he said was the most honest man, and the best man he ever knew. After he had been there a little time everybody looked up to him, the Walkers and their workmen. He knew the people for miles round, and went into their homes; his benevolence, his friendliness, his knowledge, made him beloved by all, rich and poor. His memory had always lasted there."
M. and Madame de Bonneville: "Not a day [in Paris] escaped without his receiving many visits. Mr. Barlow, Mr. [Robert] Fulton, Mr. [Sir Robert] Smith, came very often to see him. Many travelers also called on him."
"Paine was, indeed, so overrun with visitors and adventurers that he appropriated two mornings of each week at the Philadelphia House for levees. These, however, became insufficient to stem the constant stream of visitors, including spies and lion-hunters, so that he had little time for consultation with the men and women whose cooperation he needed in public affairs. He therefore leased an out-of-the-way house [the old Madame Pompadour mansion], reserving knowledge of it for particular friends, while still retaining his address at the Philadelphia House, where the levees were continued."—Dr. Conway.
"Here [at Paine's house] gathered sympathetic spirits from America, England, France, Germany, Holland, Switzerland, freed from prejudices of race, rank, or nationality."—Ibid.
"And now the old hotel became the republican capitol of Europe. There sat an international Premier with his Cabinet."—Ibid.
"A grand dinner was given by Paine at the Hotel de Ville to Dumouriez, where this brilliant general met Brissot, Condorcet, Santerre, and several eminent English radicals."—Ibid.
"In the beautiful courtyard of the Palais Royal, I saw today for the first time the statue of Camille Desmoulins, one of the most heroic figures of the French Revolution.... He was one of Paine's warmest friends in Paris. Desmoulins had known Paine when the latter was a member of the Convention and doubtless was one of the interesting coterie that met at Paine's house in the Faubourg St. Denis."—William M. van der Weyde.
"When Bonaparte returned from Italy he called on Paine and invited him to dinner."—Clio Rickman.
"Among the persons I was in the habit of receiving Paine deserves to be mentioned."—Madame Roland.
Among Paine's most intimate French friends, besides the Bonnevilles with whom he lived for several years, were the Rolands, the Brissots, the Condorcets, and the Lafayettes, France's purest and noblest souls.
Baron Pichon: "Paine lived in Monroe's house at Paris."
While James Monroe was minister to France Paine was for a year and a half a member of his household, enjoying in the highest degree the esteem of both Mr. and Mrs. Monroe.
Paine was one of the most amiable of men and possessed a most charming personality. Nicolas and Margaret Bonneville, with whom he resided in Paris, in a biographical sketch of him, written after his death and revised by Cobbett, bear this testimony: "Thomas Paine loved his friends with sincere and tender affection. His simplicity of heart and that happy kind of openness, or rather, carelessness, which charms our hearts in reading the fables of the good Lafontaine, made him extremely amiable. If little children were near him he patted them, searched his pockets for the store of cakes, biscuits, sugar-plums, pieces of sugar, of which he used to take possession as of a treasure belonging to them, and the distribution of which belonged to him."
"He was always gentle to children and to animals."—Ellery Sedgwick.
The deep affection entertained for Paine by his Parisian friends was shown when, grievously ill and believed to be dying, he was carried from his cot in the Luxembourg to the home of the Monroes. I quote again from Dr. Conway: "Paine had been restored by the tenderness and devotion of friends. Had it not been for friendship he could hardly have been saved. We are little able, in the present day, to appreciate the reverence and affection with which Thomas Paine was regarded by those who saw in him the greatest apostle of liberty in the world.... In Paris there were ladies and gentlemen who had known something of the cost of liberty—Col. and Mrs. Monroe, Sir Robert and Lady Smith, Madame Lafayette, Mr. and Mrs. Barlow, M. and Madame de Bonneville. They had known what it was to watch through anxious nights with terrors surrounding them. He who % had suffered most was to them a sacred person. He had come out of the succession of ordeals, so weak in body, so wounded by American ingratitude, so sore at heart, that no delicate child needed more tender care.... Men say their Arthur is dead, but their love is stronger than death. And though the service of these friends might at first have been reverential, it ended with attachment, so great was Paine's power, so wonderful and pathetic his memories, so charming the play of his wit, so full his response to kindness."
"In Luxembourg prison," says Conway, "he won all hearts."
Augustus C. Buel: "Jones [John Paul] liked Tom Paine and Paine almost worshiped Jones [they were in Paris]. All through the American Revolution they had been fast friends, familiarly calling each other 'Tom' and 'Paul.'"
Joseph Mazzini Wheeler: "Landor [Walter Savage] told my friend Mr. Birch of Florence that he particularly admired Paine, and that he visited him, having first obtained an interview at the house of General Dumouriez [the most famous general of the Revolution]. Landor declared that Paine was always called 'Tom,' not out of disrespect, but because he was a jolly good fellow."
Lord Edward Fitzgerald (to his mother): "I lodge with my friend Paine [in Paris]; we breakfast, dine, and sup together. The more I see of his interior the more I like and respect him. I cannot express how kind he is to me. There is a simplicity of manner, a goodness of heart, and a strength of mind in him that I never knew a man before to possess."
Lady Lucy Fitzgerald: "Although he [Lord Edward] was unsuccessful in the glorious attempt of liberating his country [Ireland] from slavery, still he was not unmindful of the lessons you taught him. Accept, then, his picture from his unhappy sister. Its place is in your house; my heart will be satisfied with such a Pantheon: it knows no consolation but the approbation of such men as you, and the soothing recollection that he did his duty and died faithful to the cause of liberty."
Zachariah Wilkes: "Let me tell you what he did for me. I was arrested in Paris and condemned to die. I had no friend here; and it was at a time when no friend would have served me: Robespierre ruled. 'I am innocent!' I cried in desperation. 'I am innocent, so help me God! I am condemned for the offense of another.' I wrote a statement of my case with a pencil; thinking at first of addressing it to my judge, then of directing it to the president of the Convention."
[Wilkes, who was an Englishman, had important business to transact which involved his honor and he could not bear the thought of dying with it unperformed. The jailer referred him to Paine, who, though a prisoner, had much influence with the authorities.]
"He [Paine] examined me closer than my judge had done; he required my proofs. After a long time I satisfied him. He then said: 'The leaders of the Convention would rather have my life than yours. If by any means I can obtain your release on my own security, will you promise me to return in twenty days?'"
Wilkes promised to return. Paine then obtained permission for him to leave the prison, guaranteeing his return and agreeing to take his place at the guillotine if he failed to do so. Wilkes kept his word. He returned to the prison, drawing from Paine the exclamation, "There is yet English blood in England!" Wilkes had been opposed to Paine both in politics and religion.
Another instance of Paine's noble magnanimity is related by Dr. Conway: "This personage [Captain Grimstone, R. A.], during a dinner party at the Palais Egalité, got into a controversy with Paine, and, forgetting that the English Jove could not in Paris answer argument with thunder, called Paine a traitor to his country and struck him a violent blow. Death was the penalty for striking a deputy and Paine's friends were not unwilling to see the penalty inflicted on this stout young captain who had struck a man of fifty-six. Paine had much trouble in obtaining from Barrere, of the Committee of Public Safety, a passport out of the country for Captain Grimstone, whose traveling expenses were supplied by the man he had struck."
Lady Smith: "If the usual style of gallantry was as clever as your 'New Covenant' [a beautiful poem by Paine addressed to Lady Smith] many a fair lady's heart would be in danger; but the Little Corner of the World [Lady Smith] receives it from the Castle in the Air [Paine]; it is agreeable to her as being the elegant fancy of a friend."
Sir Robert and Lady Smith were Paine's most devoted English friends in Paris. When Paine was languishing in prison Lady Smith wrote him letters of cheer and comfort, signing herself "Little Corner of the World."
Frederick Freeman: "He [Captain Rowland Crocker] had taken the great Napoleon by the hand; he had familiarly known Paine.... He remembered Paine as a well-dressed and most gentlemanly man, of sound and orthodox republican principles, of a good heart, a strong intellect, and a fascinating address."
Among the many calumnies circulated against Paine is the charge that during his later years, after he wrote the "Age of Reason," he was, both in France and in America, a drunkard. This charge is false. Paine was one of the most temperate men of his time. Concerning his use of intoxicants in France his old friend Clio Rickman, who visited him in Paris, who was with him during his last day in that city, and who accompanied him to Havre when he sailed for America, says: "He did not drink spirits, and wine he took moderately; he even objected to any spirits being laid in as a part of his sea-stock."
Hon. E. B. Washburne, who made a thorough investigation of Paine's career in France, bears the following testimony: "A somewhat extended study of the French Revolution during the extraordinary period in which Paine was so intimately connected with it, fails to show anything to the prejudice of his personal or political character."
"Returned to the United States on the invitation of Jefferson in 1802."—Library of World's Best Literature.
Charles T. Sprading: "Jefferson offered him return passage from Europe on a United States man-of-war."
National Intelligencer (Washington, Nov. 10, 1802): "Thomas Paine has arrived in this city and has received a cordial reception from the Whigs of Seventy-six and the Republicans of 1800."
"He was cordially received by the President, Thomas Jefferson. He also visited the heads of the departments."—Boston Post.
Philadelphia Aurora, Washington Correspondent of (November 26, 1802): "His address is unaffected and unceremonious. He neither shuns nor courts observation. At table he enjoys what is good with the appetite of temperance and vigor, and puts to shame his calumniators by the moderation with which he partakes of the common beverage of the boarders.... I am proud to find a man whose political writings upon the whole have never been equaled, and whom I have admired on that account, free from the contamination of debauchery and habits of inebriety which have been so grossly and falsely sent abroad concerning him."
Dr. Samuel Latham Mitchell, M. C. (Washington, Dec. 11, 1802): "At Mr. Gallatin's I saw for the first time the celebrated Thomas Paine. We had some conversation before dinner and we sat side by side at the table.... This extraordinary man contributed exceedingly much to entertain the company."
Albert Gallatin was at this time Secretary of the Treasury. Referring to this period, including all the remaining years of his life, Conway says: "Paine's defamers have manifested an eagerness to ascribe his maltreatment to personal faults. This is not the case.... He was neat in his attire. In all portraits, French and American, his dress is in accordance with the fashion. There was not, so far as I can discover, a suggestion while he was at Washington, that he was not a suitable guest for any drawing-room in the capital."
Gilbert Vale, next to Dr. Conway, one of Paine's best biographers, says: "Mr. Paine was as much esteemed in his private life as in his public. He was a welcome visitor to the tables of the most distinguished citizens.... He possessed every prominent virtue in large proportions, and to these he added the most social qualities."
Annie Cary Morris: "Mr. Jefferson, it was said, received him warmly, dined him at the White House, and could be seen walking arm in arm with him on the street any fine afternoon."
"The author [Paine] was for some days a guest in the President's family."—Dr. Conway.
In his old age Paine received the following, one of many similar assurances of Jefferson's affection: "That you may live long to continue your useful labors, and reap the reward in the thankfulness of nations, is my sincere prayer. Accept the assurances of my high esteem and affectionate attachment."
"Jefferson's dearest friend," says Albert Payson Terhune, "was Thomas Paine."
Albert Badeau: "My mother [in whose mother's family, prominent and wealthy residents of New Rochelle, Paine boarded for a time during his later years] would never tolerate the aspersions on Mr. Paine. She declared steadfastly to the end of her life that he was a perfect gentleman, and a most faithful friend, amiable, gentle, never intemperate in eating or drinking. My mother declared that my grandmother equally pronounced the disparaging reports about Mr. Paine slanders. I never remembered to have seen my mother angry except when she heard such calumnies of Mr. Paine, when she would almost insult those who uttered them. My mother and grandmother were very religious, members of the Episcopal church."
The handsome monument erected to Paine at New Rochelle is said to have been suggested by Mrs. Badeau.
D. Burger (one of Paine's acquaintances at New Rochelle, who often took him out riding): "Mr. Paine was really abstemious, and when pressed to drink by those on whom he called during his rides he usually refused with great firmness, but politely."
D. M. Bennett of New York, writing forty years ago, says: "I have conversed with Major A. Coutant and Mr. Barker of New Rochelle, now very far advanced in life, but who distinctly remember Mr. Paine. They remember him as a pleasant, genial man, who lived on good terms with his neighbors and was not known to ever have been intoxicated." Judge J. B. Stallo, Minister to Italy during President Cleveland's administration, told Dr. Conway "that in early life he visited the place [New Rochelle] and saw persons who had known Paine, and who declared that Paine resided there without fault."
Judge Tabor: "I was an associate editor of the New York Beacon with Col. John Fellows, then (1836) advanced in years but retaining all the vigor and fire of his manhood. He was a ripe scholar, a most agreeable companion, and had been the correspondent and friend of Jefferson, Madison, Monroe and John Quincy Adams, under all of whom he held a responsible office. One of his productions was dedicated, by permission, to Adams and was republished and favorably received in England. Colonel Fellows was the soul of honor and inflexible in his adhesion to truth. He was intimate with Paine during the whole time he lived after returning to this country, and boarded for a year in the same house with him. I also was acquainted with Judge Herttell of New York city, a man of wealth and position, being a member of the New York Legislature, both in the Senate and Assembly, and serving likewise on the judicial bench. Like Colonel Fellows he was an author and a man of unblemished life and irreproachable character. These men assured me of their own knowledge derived from constant personal intercourse during the last seven years of Paine's life that he never kept any company but what was entirely respectable, and that all accusations of drunkenness were grossly untrue. They saw him under all circumstances and knew that he was never intoxicated. Nay, more, they said for that day he was even abstemious."
W. J. Hilton (1877): "It is over twenty years ago that professionally I made the acquaintance of John Hogeboom, a justice of the peace of Rensselaer county, New York. He was then over seventy years of age and had the reputation of being a man of candor and integrity. He was a great admirer of Paine. He told me that he was personally acquainted with him and used to see him frequently during the last years of his life in the city of New York, where Hogeboom then resided. I asked him if there was any truth in the charge that Paine was in the habit of getting drunk. He said that it was utterly false; that he never heard of such a thing during the lifetime cf Mr. Paine and did not believe anyone else did."
Mr. Lovet (Proprietor of City Hotel, New York): "Paine boarded for a time at my hotel. He drank the least of all my boarders."
Gilbert Vale says: "We know more than twenty persons who were more or less acquainted with Mr. Paine, and not one of whom ever saw him in liquor." "We know that he was not only temperate in after life, but even abstemious."
"He was accused of offenses he had never committed and of conduct impossible to him."—Library of the World's Best Literature.
"That he was a very likeable man is shown... by the prediction of the brilliant Home Tooke that whoever should be at a certain dinner party, Paine would be sure to say the best things said; and by the friendships he made so easily. In middle age, at least, he was fastidious in his dress, inclined to elegance in his manners, and attractive in looks."—Ibid.
"There are eleven original portraits of Thomas Paine, besides a death mask, a bust, and the profile copied in this [Conway's] work.... In all of the original portraits of Paine his dress is neat and in accordance with fashion."—Dr. Conway.
The foregoing testimonials regarding Paine's personal appearance and dress are equally true of his old age. The Jarvis painting, executed when he was an old man of sixty-seven, is a mute witness to this. This portrait is that of a handsome, temperate, well-preserved man. It is of itself a standing refutation of the slanders of his defamers, and especially of the charge that he was addicted to drunkenness in his old age.
Aaron Burr: "I always considered Mr. Paine a gentleman, a pleasant companion, and a good-natured and intelligent man, decidedly temperate."
Regarding another base calumny, Dr. Conway says: "During Paine's life the world heard no hint of sexual immorality connected with him, but after his death Cheetham published [in his 'Life of Paine'] the following: 'Paine brought with him from Paris, and from her husband in whose house he had lived, Margaret Brazier Bonneville, and her three sons. Thomas has the features, countenance, and temper of Paine.'" Madame Bonneville was a lady of unblemished character, educated, cultured and refined. For this vile insinuation its author, a disreputable publisher of New York, who boasted of having nine libel suits pending against him at one time, was pronounced guilty of slander by a jury composed mostly of Christians.
Counsellor Sampson (Cheetham's prosecutor): "It is argued that everything should be intended to favor the defendant, who has written so godly a work against the prince of deists and for the Holy Gospel.... His book, a godly book—a vile obscene, and filthy compilation, which bears throughout the character of rancorous malice!"
Commenting on this case, Ellery Sedgwick, the able editor of the Atlantic Monthly, in his Beacon biography of Paine, says: "The evidence which her (Madame Bonneville's) lawyers adduced at the trial was conclusive, and the jury found Cheetham guilty; but Judge Hoffman, with casuistry worthy of his version of Christianity, held that Mr. Cheetham, while guilty of libel, had written a very useful book in favor of religion, and fixed the damages at the modest sum of $150. Thus sheltered, Cheetham's lies grew into history."
Some years ago the evangelist, Rev. Dr. R. A. Torrey, while in England, made a brutal attack upon Paine's character, repeating the slanders that have been circulated against him. W. T. Stead, the noted editor and publisher of the Review of Reviews, London, who later perished on the ill-fated Titanic, in his magazine defended Paine and refuted the slanders of Torrey. Of the Madame Bonneville slander he says:
"The 'commonly believed outrageous action' [quoting Torrey] of Thomas Paine in living with another man's wife was shown to have been the kindly hospitality shown by an old man of sixty-seven to the refugee family of his French benefactor. The only man who had ever imputed a shadow of obloquy to Paine in this connection went into the witness-box after Paine's death and solemnly swore that there was no foundation for his calumny."
The basis of this calumny was one of the many noble acts of Paine's life. When it became known that Napoleon had designs against the liberties of France, and was planning to elevate himself to power, Paine and Bonneville opposed him. Concerning the results of this rupture Stead quotes from Conway as follows:
"In return Bonaparte suppressed Bonneville's paper, threw Bonneville into prison and placed Paine in surveillance. Afterwards by the intervention of the American minister Paine was permitted to leave the country. Bonneville was forbidden to quit France. A year after Paine crossed the Atlantic Madame Bonneville with her children escaped to America.... So far from Paine having taken Bonneville's wife away from her husband, he did everything to induce Napoleon to free Bonneville from surveillance and to allow him to rejoin his wife in New York."
Stead finally forced Torrey to eat his words and to make the following retraction: "It is the obligation of those who make the charges to prove them, and to my mind this particular charge against Paine has not been proven."
M. and Madame Bonneville had befriended Paine, had invited him to their home where for years he enjoyed their hospitality. When Bonneville was imprisoned and impoverished and his family reduced to penury, Paine would have been a base ingrate had he not befriended them.
Dr. Lucy Waite: "The one circumstance in the life of Thomas Paine that to my mind more than any other reflects credit upon him as a man, has been made the target of the most bitter attacks against him—his relations to Madame Bonneville.... His detractors would no doubt have considered it a more 'moral' act if he had sent them to the poor-farm instead of to his own farm at New Rochelle; but to the everlasting credit of this great man he defied the town gossips, and made them comfortable in his own home."
Slanders concerning Paine's marital troubles have been published. He was married twice before coming to America, in 1759 to Mary Lambert, who died, and in 1771 to Elizabeth Olive, from whom he was separated. The separation was by mutual consent and nothing discreditable to either party was alleged. As to the cause of the separation all that is known, or rather surmised, is stated in McClintock and Strong's Cyclopedia, an Orthodox authority: "His first wife had died about a year after their marriage; he lived about three years with his second, when they separated by mutual consent, it is said, on account of her physical disability."
Paine's subsequent treatment of his wife was in the highest degree honorable. He had but little property, but what he had he gave to her. Regarding his conduct in this matter Clio Rickman, his most intimate friend in England, and a highly honorable man, bears this testimony:
"This I can assert, that Mr. Paine always spoke tenderly and respectfully of his wife; and sent her several times pecuniary aid, without her knowing even whence it came."
Concerning this slander W. T. Stead says: "No one even among Paine's worst libelers suggests that she had any reason of complaint against him." One of Paine's calumniators, "Francis Oldys" (George Chalmers), a pretended biographer of Paine whose statements are nearly all false or misleading, says that while he was an excise officer he bought smuggled tobacco and was dismissed from the service for the offense. This statement is false. Dr. Conway says:
"I have before me the minutes of the Board concerning Paine, and there is no hint whatever of any such accusation."
Falsehoods generally grow rather than diminish with age, and now we are told that Paine himself was a smuggler and was dismissed for smuggling. The Excise laws were the most odious laws in England, odious alike to the people and to the excise officers, who were underpaid (fifty pounds a year) and otherwise mistreated. Paine espoused the cause of his fellow excisemen and in a memorial addressed to Parliament pleaded for a redress of their grievances. His activity in this matter offended the Government and a trivial irregularity commonly practiced by the excisemen was made a pretext for his dismissal.
The Everyman Encyclopedia: "Became an excise officer, but agitating for the removal of grievances, was dismissed from the service."
Had Paine been discharged for any dishonest or immoral act Franklin would have known it and would not have recommended him as "a worthy young man."
Paine's dismissal was for him, for England, for America and for the world one of the most fortunate things that ever occurred. His loss of the excise office which occurred in April, 1774, took him to America in November of the same year. The independence of the United States and the agitation in behalf of popular government throughout the civilized world followed as a result.
Rev. Willet Hicks, a Quaker minister, who was with Paine when he died, testified that emissaries of the church tried to bribe him to slander Paine. He says: "I could have had any sums if I would have said anything against Thomas Paine, or if even I would have consented to remain silent. They informed me that the doctor was willing to say something that would satisfy them if I would engage to be silent. Mr. Paine was a good man—an honest man."
Rev. G. H. Humphrey: "He was honest. Nor was he uncharitable. He abstained from profanity and rebuked it in others."
Boston Post (Jan. 29, 1856): "Calumny has blistered her relentless hand in trying to stamp him as profane, intemperate and mendacious. The real truth appears to be that he was never habituated to profanity, to drunkenness, nor to falsehood; and that his calumniators are unconsciously his eulogists."
The Manchester Guardian, probably the most influential journal in the British empire, outside of London, says that while the popular conception of Paine is that of a blatant and immoral demagogue he was noted by his companions "for his shyness, his benevolence, and his gentleness." Joel Barlow, who saw much of him, both in London and Paris, as well as in America, says: "He was one of the most benevolent and disinterested of mankind." "He was always charitable to the poor beyond his means." Clio Rickman, most intimate of all his associates, says: "He was mild, unoffending, sincere, gentle, humble and unassuming." Dr. Bond, who was imprisoned with him in the Luxembourg, says: "He was the most conscientious man I ever knew." James Parton says: "He loved the truth for its own sake; and he stood by what he conceived to be the truth when all around him reviled it." Ellery Sedgwick says: "The goal which he sought was the happiness of his fellow-men."
Hon. George W. Julian, the first Antislavery nominee for Vice-President, one of the founders of the Republican party, and for many years a distinguished leader in Congress, says: "Paine was a perfectly unselfish and incorruptible patriot; he was a philanthropist in the best sense of the word; he was a man of the rarest intelligence and moral courage."
Charles Watts of England says: "Thomas Paine had a generous and affectionate nature, a mind superior to fear and selfish interests; a mind governed by the principles of uniform rectitude and integrity; a mind the same in prosperity and adversity; a mind which no bribe could seduce and no terror overawe."
Eva Ingersoll Brown: "Thomas Paine was one of the mental and moral giants of his time. He ranked among the foremost of his age. He was royal in rectitude, kingly in compassion, sovereign in sympathy. His reverence for truth and justice was sublime; his love of mercy and his ardor for liberty were unsurpassed.... His was a religion untainted by touch of dogma or of sect; a thing stainless and pure; of wondrous beauty and grandeur."
While the orthodox clergy, with a few noble exceptions, have been, to their overlasting shame, mainly responsible for the ignorance and prejudice that have prevailed concerning Thomas Paine, Liberal ministers, many of them, to their eternal honor, have braved public sentiment and dared to do him justice. In an address more than fifty years ago the Rev. Moncure D. Conway paid this tribute to the moral character of Thomas Paine: "In his life, in his justice, in his truth, in his adherence to high principles, I look in vain for a parallel in those times and in these times. I am selecting my words. I know I am to be held accountable for them." Rev. Theodore Parker says: "I think he did more to promote piety and morality among men than a hundred ministers of that age in America."
Prof. L. F. Laybarger: "Great was Thomas Paine intellectually, morally he was greater."
Col. E. A. Stevens: "May Americans long appreciate the genius and reverence the virtues of their noble benefactor, for he left them a legacy greater than his works—the contemplation of his high-souled, unselfish character."
Every person who has charged Paine with immorality has either invented a falsehood or repeated one. The character of Paine; was as blameless as that of Washington. Both men, in their last days, were bitterly assailed by political enemies. With their deaths political censure, for the most part, ceased. But Paine's religious opinions were not forgotten, and could not be forgiven. His "Age of Reason" continued to be read, and remained unanswered, because unanswerable. What "Common Sense" had done to kingcraft in America the "Age of Reason" promised to do to priestcraft throughout the world. In her desperation the church seized her only available weapon, slander. Every inventor of a calumny against Paine was hailed as a defender of the faith. Unscrupulous biographers and historians, like Cheetham and McMaster, to curry favor with the church, have recorded these calumnies as facts; and others, accepting these writers as reliable authorities, have innocently repeated them. Many who have acknowledged Paine's services to mankind have felt compelled to apologize for his supposed errors. Sir Leslie Stephen, who had accepted some of these charges, thus frankly admits that he had been deceived: "I regret to say that I had accepted certain charges against Paine's character, which Mr. Conway has shown to rest upon worse than suspicious evidence.... I fully admit that I was entirely misled by a hasty reliance upon worthless testimony." (History of English Thought in the Eighteenth Century, 3rd ed., vol. ii, p. 261, note.)
William H. Burr: "While the corpse of the philanthropist lay cooling in the ground the English Tory Cheetham wrote a biography full of malignity and detraction."
Cheetham had a double motive in writing his Life of Paine—revenge and gain. He was an Englishman and had been an ardent Republican. But he had betrayed his party and as a result of this he and Paine became engaged in a bitter controversy. Paine's punishment of the renegade was terrible. His wounds still smarting when his adversary died, Cheetham wreaked his vengeance by writing a book in which he presented as facts all the calumnies that Paine's political and religious enemies had circulated concerning him, supplemented by all that his own malignant mind could invent. Realizing that his career in America was ended he had decided to return to England and the book, he believed, would win for him the favor and patronage of England's two most powerful institutions, the Tory Government and the Orthodox Church.
"When, therefore, a party hack, as Cheetham doubtless was, disappointed and a renegade, with talents, as he certainly possessed, but embittered in feelings and regardless of truth, as all circumstances contribute to show—what could be expected from such a man but just what he produced, a Life of Paine abounding in bold falsehoods, cunningly contrived, and addressed to a people who wished to be deceived."—Gilbert Vale.
"Cheetham's book is one of the most malicious ever written."—Dr. Conway.
"We have no hesitation in saying that we knew perfectly well at the time the motives of that author [Cheetham] for writing and publishing a work, which, we have every reason to believe, is a libel almost from beginning to end."—Rev. Solomon Southwick.
Eighteen years prior to the appearance of Cheetham's book George Chalmers, an English writer, under the pseudonymn of "Francis Oldys," backed by the friends of the English Tory government and for a consideration, it is claimed, of £500, to counteract the influence of the "Rights of Man" which was threatening to overthrow monarchy in England, wrote a pretended biography of Paine filled with slander and vituperation. Referring to this book and the corrupt English political and religious age in which it was written, Edward Smith, an English author, writing nearly a century later, characterizes it as "one of the most horrible collections of abuse which even that venal day produced."
Excepting Cheetham and Chalmers, all of the biographers of Paine—Conway, Vale, Rickman, Sedgwick, Sherwin, Blanchard, Linton and others—have endeavored to do him justice. But Cheetham's and Chalmer's books have been the arsenals where the orthodox of England and America have gone for their weapons with which to attack the author of the "Age of Reason." Not only have they tried to suppress Paine's book, they have tried to banish from the public library and book-store every work that has appeared in defense of it or its author. For three-quarters of a century the only biographies of Paine to be found in the London library were those of Cheetham and Chalmers; the only one to be found in the public libraries of America was that of Cheetham. Is it any wonder, then, that nearly all the pictures of Paine, even those drawn by friendly hands, to be found in our histories, biographical dictionaries, encyclopedias and other works, should be largely caricatures?
One of the foulest of these caricatures is that drawn by the historian John Bach McMaster. For this writer's scurrilous attack on Paine no excuse can be offered. The plea of ignorance of Paine's true character and history cannot be urged in his behalf. He had before him the authentic records of Paine's career, in America, at least. He knew that his statements were untruthful and unjust. His tirade of abuse is seemingly for the sole purpose of securing for his books the endorsement of the clerical bigots who dominate our schools and colleges.
Louisa Harding: "One would imagine that even the religious bigot would know that he [McMaster] drew for us the picture of a great man, looming up tall and wide behind the chronicler who strove to pull him down.... In the course of a careful, impartial investigation of the various lives of, and articles on, Paine, it became necessary to resort to the explanation of blinding religious prejudice; and that, too, having failed to fit the case, there seems to be no recourse save to use a shorter, uglier word—John Bach McMaster lies."
A little while ago a prominent American, misled by Paine's calumniators and too proud to retract it when the error was called to his attention, applied to the author-hero the brutal epithet "filthy little Atheist"—three falsehoods in three words, for Paine was neither filthy, little, nor an Atheist.
[See the works of President Theodore Roosevelt for this quotation of his opinion of Thomas Paine. DW]
"Every syllable of that characterization is a shameful falsehood."—William M. Salter, A.M.
"One of the most transparently false and indefensible slanders that ever came from lip or pen."—J. P. Bland, B. D.
"Was he filthy? He was the friend and associate of Washington and Franklin. He was a member of the most conspicuous philosophical society in the new world. He was associated with the most distinguished men of the philosophical circles of France. Was he little? He entered an intellectual combat with Edmund Burke, and won immortal renown. Was he little? He was big enough and mighty enough to make the throne of Great Britain tremble. Was he little? He was big enough to make in America as well as in France the cause of human liberty his debtor forever "—Dr. John E. Roberts.
Commenting on this slander the Nation of England says: "After all, our feelings of resentment at such a brutality are assuaged by the reflection that whereas, this man, will in a quick generation sink to the obscurity from which a series of accidents lifted him for a few years, history will gradually set in its proper place among the makers of the Republic the memory of the man whom he defamed."
"All this vilification is really the tribute that mediocrity pays to genius."—Elbert Hubbard.
Walt Whitman: "Paine was double damnably lied about."
"Anything lower, meaner, more contemptible, I cannot imagine, to take an aged man—a man tired to death after a complicated life of toil, struggle, anxiety—weak, dragged down, at death's door;... then to pull him into the mud, distort everything he does and says; oh, it's infamous."
"Thomas Paine had a noble personality, as exhibited in presence, face, voice, dress, manner, and what may be called his atmosphere and magnetism, especially the later years of his life. I am sure of it. Of the foul and foolish fictions yet told about the circumstances of his decease, the absolute fact is that he lived a good life, after its kind; he died calmly and philosophically, as became him."
Dr. Morrison Davidson: "He died as he lived, one of the grandest examples of intellectual piety, fidelity and rectitude that ever lived."
New York Advertiser (June 9, 1809): "With heartfelt sorrow and poignant regret, we are compelled to announce to the world that Thomas Paine is no more. This distinguished philanthropist, whose life was devoted to the cause of humanity, departed this life yesterday morning; and, if any man's memory deserves a place in the breast of a freeman, it is that of the deceased, for,
"'Take him for all in all, We ne'er shall look upon his like again.'"
(Paine's remains were buried on his farm at New Rochelle. Ten years later, because of America's ingratitude and neglect, William Cobbett had his bones disinterred and sent to England. In connection with their reinterment he had planned a great popular demonstration. "When I return," he said, "I shall cause them to speak the common sense of the great man; I shall gather together the people of Liverpool and Manchester in one assembly with those of London, and those bones will effect the reformation of England in Church and State."
Cobbett, probably waiting for a more opportune time, failed to carry out his cherished scheme. The bones of Paine reposed for nearly thirty years in their coffin and then disappeared. As late as 1854 a Unitarian clergyman claimed to have in his possession "the skull and the right hand of Thomas Paine.")
"The skull and the right hand of Thomas Paine!" What priceless relics! Could they be found America should repossess them, place them in a casket of gold and preserve them in a shrine at her national capitol. Within that skull was conceived this great republic. That hand wrote the inspired volume which transformed a vague dream into a glorious reality. That hand, too, wrote two other immortal works which, slowly but surely, are effecting what Cobbett contemplated, "the reformation of England in Church and State."
"His 'Rights of Man' is now the political constitution of England, his 'Age of Reason' is the growing constitution of its Church."—Dr. Conway.
"As to his bones, no man knows the place of their rest to this day. His principles rest not. His thoughts, untraceable like his dust, are blown about the world which he held in his heart. For a hundred years no human being has been born in the civilized world without some spiritual tincture from that heart whose every pulse was for humanity, whose last beat broke a fetter of fear, and fell on the throne of thrones."—Ibid.
Rev. Charles Wendt, DD.: "A much abused name."
Rev. O. B. Frothingham: "No private character has been more foully calumniated in the name of God than that of Thomas Paine."
"No page in history, stained as it is with treachery and falsehood, or cold-blooded indifference to right or wrong, exhibits a more disgraceful instance of public ingratitude than that which Thomas Paine experienced from an age and country which he had so faithfully served."—Rev. Solomon Southwick.
Referring to Paine, the Boston Herald says: "It has, perhaps, never fallen to the lot of any really great man to be so traduced in his lifetime, and, after the grave has closed over him, to have his memory so weighted down with obloquy of unsparing critics." Mrs. Bradlaugh-Bonner of England, daughter of Charles Bradlaugh, one of England's noted orators and statesmen, says: "Paine's politics were politics for the people, and the people were taught to deny him; his ideal religion was 'the Religion of Humanity,' and humanity would not even grant him a grave." Col. Ingersoll says: "I challenge the world to show that Thomas Paine ever wrote one line, one word in favor of tyranny—in favor of immorality; one line, one word against what he believed to be for the highest and best interests of mankind; one line, one word against justice, charity or liberty; and yet he has been pursued as though he had been a fiend from hell."
Harriet Law: "There are few to whom the world owes more, and probably none to whose memory it has been more ungrateful."
Edward D. Mead: "There is no other man in our religious or political history who has been the victim of such misrepresentation, of such persistent obloquy, as Thomas Paine."
"As we go back into the Dark Ages we read of the horrible atrocities perpetrated in the name of religion, and this feeling had not yet passed away during the time that Thomas Paine lived."—Admiral George W. Melville.
Hon. Andrew D. White, LL. D.: "Great, and, indeed, cruel injustice was done him in his day, and has been continued in large measure ever since."
Eastern Daily Press (England): "The fires still burn, although a hundred years have passed."
"For more than a century his name has been as a touchstone revealing the unappeasable malevolence of men's intolerance."—Mrs. Bradlaugh-Bonner.
Kumar Krishna de Varma, L. T. O. (Bombay, India): "The Orthodox have always slandered the immortal author of the 'Age of Reason' and the 'Rights of Man.'"
Prof. Ernst Haeckel: "Thomas Paine, the immortal author of the celebrated books, 'Age of Reason,' 'Common Sense,' 'Rights of Man,' and 'Crisis,' belongs to those meritorious Truththinkers who during their lifetime were not accorded the honor and acknowledgment that they well merited. The traditional historians of schoolbooks not only neglected him for many years but deliberately maligned and slandered him."
"Religious bigots have done all in their power to defame his character and rob him of the laurels with which we crown him to-day."—Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
D. M. Bennett: "Does a man with such a brilliant career, one having made such a magnificent record, and one to whom the world owes far more than it can ever pay, deserve to have his name maligned, his memory blackened, and all his actions and motives belied and misrepresented? Is it honorable? Is it manly? Is it just?"
Helen H. Gardener: "So long as a man, whether he be layman, bishop, cardinal or pope, is willing to bear false witness against his neighbor, whether that neighbor be living or dead, just so long will all the blood of all the Redeemers of all the nations of the earth be unable to wash his soul white enough to place it beside that of the patriot hero, Thomas Paine."
William T. Stead: "Paine and Ingersoll are assailed by the same weapons, subjected to the same aspersions, and misrepresented in the same merciless fashion as He [Christ] was assailed and misrepresented by the orthodox of his time.... If it is right to treat Paine and Ingersoll in this harsh, carping, uncharitable, malevolent fashion, then it is equally right to apply it to the founder of the faith."
Elmina Drake Slenker: "And this mild work, the 'Age of Reason,' is the real cause of all the cruel calumnies that the world has circulated about the hero, the scholar, the philosopher, the scientist, the inventor, the humanitarian, Thomas Paine."
Lillian Leland: "Paine... had ideals of intellectual and religious freedom, and was flung down from the pedestal of honor, broken, cast off and ostracized for venturing to criticise the received forms of religion."
"The replies to Thomas Paine," says George W. Foote of London, "were the work of Christian ruffians. Bishop Watson was the only one who attempted to answer Paine's arguments. The others only called him names; apparently on the principle that to charge a Freethinker with drunkenness and profligacy is the shortest and easiest way of proving that the Bible is the Word of God."
George E. Macdonald of New York, says: "The strongest defense of the Bible against the 'Age of Reason' was the allegation that Paine drank brandy, although the Bible commends liquor drinking and the ministers of that period were unrestricted in their potations."
"Around New Rochelle, where Thomas Paine lived, and where this myth about his drunkenness has its geography, there were deacons by the dozen who were drinking regularly more than Thomas Paine ever drank, without in the slightest degree affecting their religious reputation. I speak of these things, which I have investigated, because I feel so strongly the wrong which has been done to this man."—Edward D. Mead.
Gilbert Vale: "Could the 'Age of Reason' and 'Rights of Man' have been replied to as he replied to Burke we should have never heard these slanders."
William Ware Cotter:
"Let libelers' gall-envenomed tongues Make bitter every word they speak; Time will disclose the patriot's wrongs And blanch with shame the slanderer's cheek."
M. Courtois: "He has labored to found liberty in two worlds."
Hon. Jonathan Bourne, Jr.: "Thomas Paine in England and America and Thomas Jefferson in America became the chanticleers of liberty."
Hon. John J. Ingalls: "Paine was one of the great apostles of human liberty, and did much to emancipate mankind from the shackles of ancient prejudice and error."
"A warm friend to the liberty and lasting welfare of the human race."—Samuel Adams.
Prof. Lester F. Ward, LL.D.: "Thanks to Paine and other great reformers, we have emerged from the condition where the political struggle is the main issue. In other words political liberty has been attained."
T. J. Bowles, M. D.: "At the close of the eighteenth century it dawned upon the minds of the immortal Paine, Jefferson and Franklin that all men are created equal, and this conception born in the minds of this trinity of saviors made the nineteenth century the most marvelous and the happiest period in the history of the world."
Earl John Francis Stanley Russell: "A great reformer and an illustrious heretical pioneer."
"His name stands for mental freedom and moral courage."—George W. Foote.
"Thomas Paine was a heroic innovator. He said what he thought and he meant what he said."—Rev. George Burman Foster.
John Wesley Jarvis: "He devoted his whole life to the attainment of two objects—rights of man and freedom of conscience."
Prof. H. M. Kottinger, A. M.: "Thomas Paine fought as courageously for religious liberty as he did for civil liberty."
"I dare not say how much of what our Union is owing and enjoying to-day—its independence—its ardent belief in, and substantial practice of, radical human rights—and the severance of its government from all ecclesiastical and superstitious dominions—I dare not say how much of all this is owing to Thomas Paine, but I am inclined to think a good portion of it decidedly is."—Walt. Whitman.
"It was his clear head and brave and righteous soul that inspired the men who declared our independence, and put into the Constitution of the United States such a veto against ecclesiastical domination as has defied its proud and conceited usurpation to the present day."—Elizur Wright.
H. Lee-Warner: "Its [Thetford's] great man who taught the world to respect the right of free-thought."
(The one hundredth anniversary of the death of Thomas Paine was observed at his birthplace. The mayor of Thetford presided, and four members of the British Parliament delivered eulogistic addresses.)
George Anderson: "One of the noblest Freethinkers in the world's history.
"Paine is the idol of Freethinkers. He is enthroned in our hearts because he gave his life to freedom."—L. K. Washburn.
"In both worlds he offered his blood for the good of man. In the wilderness of America, in the French Convention, in the sombre cell awaiting death, he was the same unflinching, unwavering friend of his race; the same undaunted champion of freedom."—Ingersoll.
Martin L. Bunge: "I owe much to Thomas Paine. His words have guided me in my struggle for liberty and truth. The more I study him the more I love the human race."
Isador Ladoff: "Freethought was to him not a mere attitude of mind, but a philosophy of life and action."
Prof. M. N. Wright: "He will always stand as an illustrious example of that higher reverence, that diviner faith of the incoming religion—a religion based in the common wants of a common humanity."
William Marion Reedy: "He glorified common sense.... He is one of the chief saints of the Church of Man."
Rev. Paul Jordan Smith: "When Thomas Paine first saw the light of day it was the custom of certain disciples of peace and good will to beat and burn the man who wanted to think.... And down the days that since have passed it has been the fashion of the blatant orthodox to cry, 'Infidel!' 'Infidel!' at the man who said: 'Any system of religion that shocks the mind of a child cannot be a true system.' 'The world is my country; to do good my religion.'"
Robert Blatchford: "Paine left Moses and Isaiah centuries behind when he wrote: 'The world is my country; to do good my religion.'"
Stoughton Cooley: "One of the most devoted spirits in the cause of liberty."
East Anglian Daily Times: "The Rights of Man' and the 'Age of Reason' may have scandalized orthodox opinion, but their author was never engaged in any but a generous and noble cause, that had complete personal liberty for its sole object and aim."
"They [Lord Bolingbroke and Thomas Paine] were alike in making bitter enemies of the priests and pharisees of their day. Both were honest men; both advocates of human liberty."—Thomas Jefferson.
J. C. Hannon: "Liberty, hunted around the globe, has ever found its highest hope, its safest refuge, in the affections of those upon whose grand and noble foreheads the tyrants of the world have ever branded the indelible stigma of Infidelity. Thomas Paine, who has done more for human liberty than any other man who ever lived, has borne it with a grace amounting to sublimity."
Dr. J. B. Wilson: "Towering spires, blazing altars, jeweled palaces, and golden thrones had awed and subdued the Eastern nations for all time. It remained for Thomas Paine, standing upon the shores of this western world, to tear away the blinds of superstition, hypocrisy, selfishness, and imperial pretense, and awaken mankind to a consciousness of its own power and capacity for self-government."
Walter Holloway: "Age after age men have struggled toward the ideal, with toil and tears, praying in their pain, sobbing out their sorrows in the half-light of hope, forever beaten back from the coveted goal. Wise men long ago saw that the gods must be dethroned and the government of earth given into the hands of men. That was the passionate dream of Thomas Paine."
M. Felix Rabbe: "Thomas Paine has suffered the fate of all those who, listening only to their conscience of honest manhood, solely attentive to the voices of Nature and Reason, raised principles above all considerations of frontiers, parties, sects, and sacrificed without hesitation the mean calculations of a temporizing policy to the higher interests of eternal justice."
"The world has had few such men, those who divest themselves of selfish motives of gain or pride and are willing to suffer obloquy and poverty for a conviction."—Edward C. Wentworth.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton.: "We cannot be too grateful to those who through poverty, persecution, imprisonment, and death have given us the light of science in the place of blind faith on questions of government, religion, and social life. Thomas Paine is a worthy name in the long line of martyrs to liberal political and religious principles."
"Poor, abused, maligned, hated and persecuted, Paine stood alone in the ocean of superstition, ignorance and prejudice as the Liberty Statue of religious thought while the waves of malice, ostracism and anathema lashed against his kind and manly brow."—Rev. David W. Bash.
Rev. Dr. Thomas Slicer: "The progress of the world in political and religious liberty will be written in the estimates that the world has learned to take of Thomas Paine during the hundred years since he fell into an unnoticed grave."
"Thomas Paine made it impossible to write the history of human liberty with his name left out. He was one of the creators of light. He was one of the heralds of the dawn."—Col. R. G. Ingersoll.
"I enjoy myself when I think how free I am, and I thank this man for it. When I think of that the whole horizon is full of glory, and joy comes to me in every ray of sunshine and every rustle of the winds."—Ibid.
James F. Morton, Jr.:
"Since time began, No greater prophet faced the savage ban Of priest and king."
Rev. David W. Bush: "How unwise to deny myself the companionship of one of the greatest, bravest, most self-sacrificing men of all time because he has written things I cannot accept."
Pearl W. Geer: "This is the beauty of Free-thought—the glory of Infidelity. We recognize good in everything where good is to be found. While we do not accept all of Thomas Paine's ideas we recognize in him the greatest man the world has ever known."
"There is not in Illinois a monument that stands as high as Abraham Lincoln; nor in Massachusetts as high as Ralph Waldo Emerson; nor in the world as high as Thomas Paine."—L. K. Washburn.
"The wisest, brightest, humblest son of earth." —Clio Rickman.
Rev. George Croly: "An impartial estimate of this remarkable man has been rarely formed and still more rarely expressed. He was assuredly one of the original men of the age in which he lived."
Col. Charles Stedman (a Tory officer in the Revolution): "Thomas Paine has rendered his name famous on the theatre of Europe and of the world."
Robert Shelton Mackenzie: "We cannot ignore the fact that he was one of the ablest politicians of his time and that liberal minds all over the world recognize him as such."
"Washington recognized his practical insight, Napoleon picked him out from the crowd of 'ideaologues' and consulted him."—London Times.
William Cobbett, one of the most notable figures in English politics, who, misled by Paine's enemies, had been one of his most violent assailants, thus frankly acknowledges his indebtedness to him: "Old age having laid his hand upon this truly great man, this truly philosophical politician, at his expiring flambeau I lighted my taper."
Charles Bradlaugh: "He was a sturdy, true man. Though Norfolk born, not English, but human, and with nothing of geographical limit to that humanity. As a politician, or rather as a thinker on politics he stands for England as Jean Jacques Rousseau has stood for France. You on your side ought to reverence him for the timely words which gave form and reality to vague, unspoken thought. We, on our side, too, ought to honor him for the 'Rights of Man' yet to be wearisomely achieved."
Atlantic Monthly: (July, 1859): "His career was wonderful, even for the age of miraculous events he lived in. In America he was a Revolutionary hero of the first rank, who carried letters in his pocket from George Washington, thanking him for his services. And he managed besides to write his radical name in large letters in the History of England and France."
W. W. Bartlett: "He was undeniably preeminent among statesmen, and by his many-sidedness he succeeded in rousing the whole civilized world."
Marshall J. Gauvin: "In honoring the memory of Thomas Paine we recognize and salute one of the greatest forces in history."
"Other men have followed events; Paine actually created them.... he wanted a Declaration of Independence, and he produced the wish for it."—Gilbert Vale.
Hugh Byron Brown: "There are a few great men who, like milestones along the road of progress, are so distinguished and prominent, and who have so influenced the destinies of nations, as to mark an epoch in the world's history. Such a man was Thomas Paine."
Michael Monahan: "One of the notables of history."
Rev. E. M. Frank: "Thomas Paine was, in his time, one who stood in the forefront of human progress."
Dr. Edward Bond Foote: "As Lincoln was the man for his time and place, so Paine fitted perfectly and filled remarkably the niche which history allotted to him."
Horace L. Green: "Thomas Paine, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, the glorious trinity of Independence."
Eugene V. Debs: "The revolutionary history of the United. States and France stirred me deeply and its heroes and martyrs became my idols. Thomas Paine towered above them all."
Knut Martin Teigen, M.D., Ph.D.: "Thomas Paine was, beyond all doubt, a true genius."
Dr. John Walker (with Paine in France): "There can be no question that Paine was a man of the most gigantic genius and of the soundest practical knowledge."
Joel Barlow, ambassador to France during Napoleon's reign, Paine's companion in London and Paris, and to whom he entrusted the manuscript of his "Age of Reason" when he was taken to prison, says: "Paine was endowed with the clearest perception, an uncommon share of original genius, and the greatest depth of thought.... As a visiting acquaintance and literary friend, he was one of the most instructive men I have ever known."
"He ought to be ranked among the brightest and most undeviating luminaries of the age in which he lived."—Ibid.
"To me Thomas Paine appears as one of the master spirits of the earth."—Horace Seaver.
"One who deserves from his still ungrateful country an honored place in her Hall of Fame."—Rev. Eugene Rodman Shippen.
Rev. Dr. L. M. Birkhead: "Paine in days to come will be considered one of the greatest men and statesmen the world has ever known."
"I regard Thomas Paine as one of the greatest men the world has ever produced, and all ought to be proud that he belonged to our race."—Sir Hiram Maxim.
Glasgow Herald: "Paine was greater than he knew."
"The two men who have left the richest heritage of thought and made the deepest imprint upon the minds of mankind for future ages,... Thomas Paine and Charles Darwin [Darwin was born in the year that Paine died], were in turn the Elijah and the Elisha of the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries of the Christian era. One hundred years ago today Thomas Paine let fall his mantle of light upon the infant shoulders of Charles Darwin and vanished in a chariot of fire that shall blaze the trail of the seeker after truth from generation unto generation."—Alden Freeman.
Edward G Wentworth: "Giordano Bruno was one of the world's martyrs who died for a cause. Thomas Paine was one of the world's martyrs who lived for a cause. Each has created an imperishable name."
George Jacob Holyoake: "Paine was the most intrepid and influential Englishman that ever sprang from the ranks of the people."
"The man who was the confidant of Burke, the counsellor of Franklin, and the friend and colleague of Washington, must have had great qualities."
"He belongs to England. His fame is the property of England; and if no other people will show that they value that fame, the people of England will:"—William Cobbett.
Rev. J. Lloyd Jones, LL. D.: "Great souls are the key-stones in the arches that unite the races.... German provincialism died when Lessing, Schiller, and Goethe were born. The insignificant island lost its insular character when Shakespeare wrote. The emaciated thirteen colonies became great when Washington, Franklin, Paine, and Jefferson spoke for them."
Mohammed Ali Webb: "All educated Mohammedans know him. The intelligent Moslem places Thomas Paine among the world's admirable men and holds his memory in great reverence."
U. Dhammaloka: "The Buddhist Tract Society of Burmah observed the one hundreth anniversary of the death of Thomas Paine. We had large audiences. I myself [president of this society] spoke to an audience of about five thousand at a town in Upper Burmah."
Kedàrnath Basu (of India): "My countrymen are beginning to admire and revere the noble character of Thomas Paine."
Yoshiro Oyama (Japan): "Thomas Paine was one of the greatest of the great men of the world."
Francois Thane: "The French people would be proud to have his ashes rest in the Pantheon beside the grave of Voltaire."
George Legg Henderson: "The time is not far distant when all the world will recognize in Thomas Paine the martyr, the hero, the man."
Prof. A. L. Rawson, LL. D.: "More men like Paine are wanted, and will appear from time to time, until the whole human race has grown in intelligence, reason and taste."
Judge Arnold Krekel, LL. D.: "Let us carry forward, then, the work in which the man we honor was so largely and so successfully engaged."
Libby C. Macdonald: "The lips of Thomas Paine are still in death, but we can voice his principles through ours."
"I commend the study of the life of Paine to the young men of today."—Hon. William J. Gaynor.
"Time will come when the problem of school education will be how to make good citizens of our boys and girls, and there are no better books for this purpose than those of Thomas Paine."—John S. Crosby.
"With the spirit of Thomas Paine in our hearts no despot, foreign or domestic, will ever be able to build his throne beside the grave of our liberty."—Rev. Thomas B. Gregory.
"Had the world but heeded the wise counsels of Thomas Paine, Europe would not now be drenched in blood."—W. M. van der Weyde.
Rev. J. Page Hopps: "Paine was a splendid radical prophet, and therefore, though a thoroughly practical man, was only a teacher and leader born too soon."
Rev. Marie J. Howe: "Paine did not belong to the eighteenth century, but was only born in it. He belongs to this."
Clarence Darrow: "Thomas Paine was so far beyond his age that a hundred years has not been long enough for the world to catch up. Sometime he will stand out as the wisest, truest, bravest friend of liberty that America can boast."
Henry Gaylord Wilshire: "Paine was the greatest man this country has produced, and it is only a question of time when we will come to realize it."
"Paine, being a genius, saw a vision of the future and the glories that should be. The herd did not, and we do not, but we shall some day."
Rev. Robert J. Lockhart: "He was a light that shed a splendor whose origin no man could declare. He was greater than the times he lived in."
Horace J. Bridges: "Some men are too great and too far ahead of their times to get justice at contemporary hands. Being too broad and impartial for any single party, they offend all parties, and are rejected and reviled by all. Such in England was the fate of Cromwell and Milton; and such in America has been the fate of Paine."
Herbert N. Casson: "Paine was a man who did not belong to his time, a man who was far larger than the men among whom he lived. He was loaned, as it were, from a larger planet to this small one. And he was given to this country at a time when the country most needed a guide and a wise teacher in the cause of independence and truth."
Rev. Dwight Galloupe, U. S. A.: "I am proud to speak the name of one who, in too many memories, lives only as an outcast and Ishmael among men—Thomas Paine. I cannot forget that when all was dark his eye saw a star of hope, his faith heard the tramping of millions of free people yet unborn. His devotion kept him steadfast until the Stars and Stripes compelled the recognition of the world."
"The man whose eloquent and reasoned appeal, 'Common Sense,' first formulated the demand for Independence, the first coiner of the great thought and expression, 'The United States of America,' the man whom Washington and Jefferson were proud to call their friend, and whose magnificent work for the liberty of their country they acknowledged with unstinted praise."—The Nation.
George Washington: "That his 'Common Sense' and many of his 'Crisis' were well timed and had a happy effect on the public mind, none, I believe, who will turn to the epochs at which they were published will deny."
"Must the merits of Common Sense continue to glide down the stream of time unrewarded by his country? His writings certainly have had a powerful effect on the public mind,—ought they not then to meet an adequate return?"
"If you will come to this place and partake with me I shall be exceedingly glad to see you at it. Your presence may remind Congress of your past services to this country; and if it is in my power to impress them, command my best exertions with freedom, as they will be rendered cheerfully by one who entertains a lively sense of the importance of your works."
"I am in hopes you will find us returned generally to sentiments worthy of former [Revolutionary] times. In these it will be your glory to have steadily labored, and with as much effect as any man living."—Thomas Jefferson.
Colonel John Laurens: "You will be received with open arms, and all that affection and respect which our citizens are anxious to testify to the author of 'Common Sense' and the 'Crisis.'"
"I wish you to regard this part of America [the Carolinas] as your particular home—and every thing that I can command in it to be in common between us."
Robert Emmett: "To be associated with Mr. Paine, whose services to America are reflected in the glory of her Republic and the happiness of her people, must be to any one who loves liberty, or regards private virtues and public accomplishments, a source of peculiar pride."
James Monroe: "The citizens of the United States cannot look back upon the times of their own Revolution without recollecting among the names of their most distinguished patriots that of Thomas Paine. The services he rendered to his country in its struggle for freedom have implanted in the hearts of his countrymen a sense of gratitude never to be effaced as long as they deserve the title of a just and generous people."
"The crime of ingratitude has not yet stained, and I trust never will stain our national character. You are considered by them as not only having rendered an important service in our Revolution, but as being on a more extensive scale, the friend of human rights, and a distinguished and able advocate in favor of public liberty."
James Madison (to Washington): "Whether a greater disposition to reward patriotic and distinguished efforts of genius will be found on any succeeding occasion, is not for me to predetermine. Should it finally appear that the merits of the man whose writings have so much contributed to infuse and foster the spirit of independence in the people of America, are unable to inspire them with a just beneficence, the world, it is to be feared, will give us as little credit for our policy as for our gratitude in this particular."
Madison, Jefferson, Edmund Randolph, and others urged the appointment of Paine to a place in Washington's cabinet.
"A little less modesty, a little more preference of himself to humanity, and a good deal more of what ought to be common sense on the part of the people he sought to free, and he would have been President of the United States."—Calvin Blanchard.
Marquis de Lafayette: "To me America without her Thomas Paine is unthinkable."
Should you ever visit Mount Vernon you will see among the many interesting relics preserved there a key. It is the Key of the Bastille, the demolition of which, on the 14th of July, 1789, was France's Declaration of Independence. This key passed through the hands of three celebrated men and associates in the mind the world's two greatest revolutions. Its history, briefly stated, is as follows: "Jefferson [then Minister to France] had sailed [for America] in September, and Paine was recognized by Lafayette and other leaders as the representative of the United States. To Paine Lafayette gave for presentation to Washington the key of the destroyed Bastille, ever since visible at Mount Vernon—symbol of the fact that, in Paine's words, 'the principles of America opened the Bastille.'"—Conway.
Dr. J. Rudis-Jicinsky: "When, in Germany, I read for the first time Paine's 'Common Sense' I thought that in the land of liberty, the United States, this hero who upheld the cause of the Colonies must be glorified and his works known to every patriotic citizen... To my astonishment I found that in this country the name of this great writer was not even known to all its citizens. Then a flood of light flashed through my brain and by its rays I spelled the word 'Ingratitude.'"
Unknown Writer (written in an old volume of Paine's works in a Philadelphia library): "He has no name. The country for which he labored and suffered knows him not. His ashes rest in a foreign land. A rough grass-grown mound, from which the bones have been purloined [now surmounted by a handsome monument] is all that remains on the continent of America to tell of the hero, the statesman, and the friend of man."
Rev. John Snyder of St. Louis says: "Paine is one of his country's half-forgotten saviors. In the mind of that country his heresy has canceled the years of loving and priceless service he rendered to a new-born nation. The clamor of bigotry has drowned the voice of gratitude."
"His patriotism shows not the slightest stain, and yet children have been taught to abhor his name."—Ibid.
"The highest monument of injustice on this earth is America's ingratitude to Thomas Paine."—James P. Bland, B.D.
"It is time the world awakened to his merits."—Ella Wheeler Wilcox.
"It is time that justice should be done the memory of the man who strove and suffered for his fellowmen."—William Marion Reedy.
"The Republic owes so much to him that it is hardly seemly that it should continue doing less than justice to his memory."—New York World.
Hon. Henry S. Randall: "Concede all the allegations against him and it still leaves him the author of 'Common Sense' and certain other papers, which rung like clarions in the darkest hour of the Revolutionary struggle, inspiring the bleeding and starving and pestilence-stricken as the pen of no other man ever inspired them."
"Shame rest on the pen which dares not to do him justice."
"A religion which will incite its followers, with virtual unanimity, to pursue with malignant hatred and to blacken with all the refinements of insatiable malice the memory of a distinguished benefactor of the human race, on the sole ground of his renunciation of certain theological dogmas, is undeniably the embodiment of a spirit hostile to intellectual liberty and human progress."—James F. Morton, Jr.
"The national ingratitude displayed toward him on account of the fact of his theological heresies has hardly a parallel in history. In vindicating his memory, and calling attention, afresh to his invaluable services, we are not indulging in a blind hero worship, but are establishing a principle. The securing of justice to Paine, against the venomous hatred invoked by his priestly enemies, involves a crushing blow to clerical malice, and the winning of a victory which will have large consequences. In the person of Paine, we are vindicating the principles of religious liberty and confounding its antagonists."—Ibid.
"The Atheists and Secularists of our time are printing, reading, revering a work ['Age of Reason'] that opposes their opinions. For above its arguments and criticisms they see the faithful heart contending with a mighty Apollyon, girt with all the forces of revolutionary and royal Terrorism. Just this one Englishman, born again in America, confronting George III. and Robespierre on earth and tearing the like of them from the throne of the universe! Were it only for the grandeur of this spectacle in the past Paine would maintain his hold on thoughtful minds. But in America the hold is deeper than that. In this self-forgetting insurrection of the human heart against deified Inhumanity there is an expression of the inarticulate wrath of humanity against continuance of the same wrong... There is still visible, however refined, the sting and claw of the Apollyon against whom Paine hurled his far-reaching dart."—Dr. Conway.
Judge Thomas Herttell: "No man in modern ages has done more to benefit mankind, or distinguished himself more for the immense moral good he has effected for his species, than Thomas Paine."
Ernestine L. Rose: "He was one of the greatest benefactors of mankind."
Theodore Parker: "His instincts were humane and elevated,' and his life was devoted mainly to the great purposes of humanity."
"We find in Paine united two qualities which were rare in the eighteenth century—political sagacity and humanity."—Hector Macpherson.
"His career is only reduced to intelligible consistency when we recognize that the impelling force behind his social, political and religious activities was an overmastering passion for humanity."—Ibid.
Edwin C. Walker:. "Paine was the least insular, the least provincial—the most cosmopolitan—of all whose names have come down to us from the ages gone... His sympathies were broader even than all humanity, for they enclosed other forms of life as well, and were as varied as the needs of all who suffered and aspired."
Ellery Sedgwick: "He hated cruelty in every form. He hated war, he hated slavery, he hated injustice; and his public life was one long battle against every form of oppression."
"His free lance was ever at the service of the poor and oppressed, but never to be bought by favors of the court, or awed by the menaces of kings or the anathemas of priests."—Hugh Byron Brown.
J. W. Whicker: "The growth of knowledge in the passing years will hallow the name of this author, this patriot, this hero of two continents. His life and his deeds are one sweet story of service for his kind."
John R. Charlesworth: "His weapon was a pen. His mind jeweled with gems of thought, richer by far than silver or gold, he gave of his intellectual treasures without price."
"Long live the man, in early contest found, Who spoke-his heart when dastards trembled round; Who, fired with more than Greek or Roman rage, Flashed truth on tyrants from his manly page." —Dr. Joseph B. Ladd.
Rev. Brooke Hereford: "Thomas Paine was the great defender of human rights and merits the everlasting gratitude of man."
Rev. Dr. David Swing: "He was one of the best and grandest men that ever trod the planet."
Charles Phillips: "Thomas Paine, no matter what may be the difference of opinion as to his principles, must ever remain a proud example of mind, unpatronized and unsupported, eclipsing the factitious beams of rank, and wealth, and pedigree. I never saw him in his captivity, or heard the revilings by which he has since been assailed, without cursing in my heart that ungenerous feeling which, cold to the necessities of genius, is clamorous in the publication of its defects.
"Ye great ones of his nation [England]! ye pretended moralists, so forward now to cast your interested indignation upon the memory of Paine!—where were you in the day of his adversity? Which of you, to assist his infant merit, would diminish even the surplus of your debaucheries? Where the mitred charity, the practical religion? Consistent declaimers, rail on! What though his genius was the gift of Heaven, his heart the altar of friendship! What though wit and eloquence and anecdote flowed freely from his tongue, while Conviction made his voice her messenger! What though thrones trembled, and prejudice fled, and freedom came, at his command! He dared to question the creed which you, believing, contradicted, and to despise the rank which you, boasting of, debased."
"Immortal Paine, thy fame can never die!"
C. Fannie Allyn:
"Because you left a record that has floated down the years, Because your words undying have conquered low-born jeers, Because the ones who listened are victors over fears, As Thomas Paine the Hero we salute you! "Philanthropist and Patriot, a-down the Yet-to-be! Your thoughts are sweeping deathless as breezes o'er the sea, And hearts of men and women by you are made more free, As Thomas Paine the Future will salute you!"
Alden Freeman: "One hundred years ago today there passed from life into the undying fame of assured immortality a chieftain among the Fathers of our Country, the foremost agitator of the American Revolution—Thomas Paine."
Samuel H. Preston: "He who will live forever in the history of this republic as the author-hero of the Revolution; he who consecrated a long, laborious life in both hemispheres to the sacred cause of humanity; he who, in his sublime patriotism, adopted the world for his country, and who, in his boundless philanthropy, embraced all mankind for his brethren; this man—this great, and grand, and good, and heroic man—has been robbed of honor and reputation, and blackened and hunted by the sleuth-hounds of superstition, as though he had been the embodied curse of earth.
"But, so sure as the affairs of men have an eternal destiny, shall justice be awarded Thomas Paine. The flowers of poesy will be woven in amaranthine wreaths above his last resting-place, and his once-blackened name will whiten with purity through all the wasteless years."
Rev. Frank S. C. Wicks: "Why this ingratitude? In one word, bigotry! Religious bigotry, that serpent that has left its trail of slime all over the pages of human history.
"He was pursued by religious bigotry, and but for religious bigotry the name of Thomas Paine would share with Washington the love and honor of his countrymen."
Rev. Thomas B. Gregory: "Our gratitude has been abundantly shown to Washington, Franklin, Jefferson and others who figured in the great drama, but to our shame it must be said we have been slow in acknowledging our debt to the man who did more than any other to bring about this country's freedom.
"But superstition is slowly dying, ignorance is gradually disappearing, and by and by Thomas Paine will come into his own and take his place along with the greatest in our national pantheon."
Rev. Solomon Southwick, D.D.: "Had Thomas Paine been a Grecian or Roman patriot in olden times, and performed the same services as he did for this country, he would have had the honor of an Apotheosis. The Pantheon would have been opened to him, and we should at this day regard his memory with the same veneration that we do that of Socrates and Cicero. But posterity will do him justice. Time, that destroys envy and establishes truth, will clothe his character in the habiliments that justly belong to it."
"Paine was one of the glories of his age.... He has a powerful vindicator—posterity."—M. M. Mangasarian.
Frances Wright D'Arusmont: "Rest in peace, noble patriot; a glorious resurrection awaits thee."
"For nearly a century this noble man—the real founder of our republic—has been buried beneath the cruel stones of obloquy. But slowly the angels of Justice are rolling back these stones from his sepulchre, and the resurrection of Thomas Paine is at hand."—Six Historic Americans.
Current Literature: "The present indications are that posterity will preserve the favorable, rather than the unfavorable, picture of Thomas Paine. His influence is steadily growing."
Col. John C. Bundy: "Paine's influence is waxing broader, deeper and more aggressive with each succeeding generation. At the end of a century, more of his theological and political works are sold each year than those of any other theologian or politician America has ever known. All the progress of the century has been in the direction in which he steered."
The Nation (London): "The magnitude, variety, and immediate efficacy of Paine's writings constitute him one of the chief personal forces of the revolutionary age.... He carried into the New England across the water a consuming passion for human justice and liberty, not as platform phrases, but as hard, concrete goods worth fighting and dying for, which set America afire, when she was confusedly pondering an impossible and unnatural reconciliation. From America to France, fresh in the throes of her great upheaval, he passed, not as an incendiary, but as a moderating and constructive influence in her national convention, risking his very life for the cause of clemency in dealing with a traitorous king. From France to England, carrying the same doctrines of liberty in politics and religion, not a cold utilitarian conception of individual rights, but a rich human gospel of a commonwealth sustained by a passion of humanity as deep and real as ever influenced the soul of man.
"He will recover a glorious though tardy fame among those who take the necessary trouble to rectify false estimates and to do honor to one of the most truly honorable men who have striven to serve mankind."
"He died broken with many griefs, to be remembered by a later age as the great Commoner of mankind."—Library of The World's Best Literature.
Charles Edward Russell: "The soul of Thomas Paine was 'like a star and dwelt apart.' He kept his own self-respect and the integrity of his mind."
"He lived a long, laborious, and useful life. The world is better for his having lived. For the sake of truth he accepted hatred and reproach. He ate the bitter bread of sorrow. His friends were untrue to him because he was true to himself, and true to them. He lost the respect of what is called society, but kept his own. His life is what the world calls a failure, and what history calls success."—Ingersoll.
Daniel Edwin Wheeler: "History continually reverses her statements at the command of Truth, and the latter is slowly but certainly rehabilitating the name and fame of Paine. The slime of a mythology which has for over a century stained his reputation is disappearing and the prophet pamphleteer is coming into his own."
Dr. Muzzey, of New York, honored by Harvard, the Sorbonne of Paris, and the University of Berlin, at the tomb of Thomas Paine, in 1909, gave utterance to this tribute: "The democracy for which Robert Burns sang and for which Thomas Paine labored is still a bright ideal in the distant future, the star of brotherhood over a humanity still in the cradle. Today, and only today, Thomas Paine is beginning to be appreciated as the prophet of that democracy which means full human brotherhood. His fame will grow with the years. The marvelous services of his brain, of his pen, which was never dipped in the ink of malice or slander, of his wonderful devotion as a soldier, as a prophet of freedom,... is coming to be understood. As the realization of that service of Paine grows, it will loom larger and larger. And when the day of democracy shall have come, when the principles for which Paine stood shall have fully replaced the awful dogmas of the past, as they are slowly and surely replacing those dogmas, then he will come to his own."
Rev. James Kay Applebee: "I see Thomas Paine as he looms up in history—a great, grand figure. The reputation bigots have created for him fades away, even as the creeds for which they raved and lied fade away; but distinct and luminous, there remains the noble character of Thomas Paine created by himself."
"The stigma is on his detractors, not on him."—Rev. Eugene Rodman Shippen.
R. B. Marsh: "No feeling of shame has been so poignant as that which overwhelmed me when I saw that ignorantly and blindly following my instructors I had added my voice to the all but universal outcry against this man.
"His fame and memory have been obscured for a hundred years, only to shine with greater luster when the truth is known. The day-dawn of his fame even now is brightening the sky.
"He has been the victim of almost infinite injustice; but I rejoice in the confident belief that time will fully vindicate his memory, and restore him to his just rank among the heroes of humanity."—Hon. George W. Julian.
That there is a rapidly growing disposition to do justice to the memory of Thomas Paine is attested by a recent occurrence. On the 14th of October, 1905, at New Rochelle, where, less than one hundred years before, Paine, because of his religious belief, was denied burial in a Christian cemetery, the beautiful monument erected at his grave by admiring friends was rededicated and assigned to the custody of that city, where, held as a sacred treasure, it is now guarded with watchful and loving care. The nation, the state, and the city united to make the event a memorable one. Major General Frederick D. Grant sent two companies of United States troops and a regimental band; the state of New York sent a battery which fired a salute of thirteen guns; the mayor delivered a eulogy on Paine, and the city council participated in the exercises. The school children of New Rochelle sang the "Star Spangled Banner" and one of Paine's own songs. Various civic and military societies also took part in the celebration—the Grand Army of the Republic, Woman's Auxiliary of the Grand Army of the Republic, Spanish War Veterans, Minutemen, Washington Continental Guards, and Sons of the American Revolution. Dr. Conway, Paine's faithful biographer, sent a letter of greeting from Paris, and a daughter of France a handsome wreath to lay upon the patriot's tomb.
Henry S. Clark (Mayor of New Rochelle):
"This memorial should serve and will remain an object lesson, inculcating not only patriotism, but the fundamental idea which appeared only in Paine's writings—political equality for all men."
"We accept this splendid memorial and pledge ourselves to ever protect and preserve it."
"The two chief centers by which the lovers of liberty, humanity and progress will love to linger and gather inspiration in America will henceforth be the mausoleum of Washington by the Potomac, and this monument of Paine by his old home in your lovely city of New Rochelle."—T. B. Wakeman.
"Ah! well may we cherish this spot sacred to Paine the Patriot. Perhaps his dream will come true, and when there is a Republic of the World, here will be the shrine of all nations."—A. Outrant Sherman.
John Burroughs: "I honor the memory of Thomas Paine and am glad to know that it shines brighter and brighter as time goes on."
Rear Admiral George W. Melville: "Greater honor is coming to the name of Thomas Paine as the years roll on.... In America he will always be known as one of the greatest and brightest minds that stood for the liberties of men."
Hon. D. W. Wilder: "After a century of abuse it is pleasing to know that a pure patriot and a very great man is at last being appreciated."
Theodore Schroeder: "Paine's sympathy for mankind had made kings his foes, his mercy cost him his liberty, his generosity kept him in poverty, his charity made him enemies, and by intellectual honesty he lost his friends. Federalist judges of election, for whose liberty he had fought, denied him the right to vote, because he was a citizen of France; imprisoned in France because he was not a citizen of France; maligned because he was brave; shunned because he was honest; hated by those to whom he had devoted his whole existence; denied a burial place in the soil he helped make free by the church which first taught him the lesson of humanity; thus ended the life of Thomas Paine.
"The world is growing better, more just and more hospitable. The narrow intolerance which once threatened to erase Paine's hame from the pages of history is passing away. Gradually we are coming to know that a kingly crown or priestly robe never rested upon a nobler man."
"His unselfish devotion to the rights of man is now being recognized, and the brutal intolerance which tried to obliterate his name from history is rapidly disappearing."—Yoshiro Oyama.
"The verdict of a century is being reversed today. In a little while the voice of detraction will be hushed forever."—Marshall J. Gauvin.
Hector Macpherson: "The wheel of time has come round full circle. Men of all sorts and conditions are willing to do justice to the man who, in the midst of great obstacles and with unflinching and self-sacrificing purpose held aloft the lighted torch of humanitarianism, and passed it on to succeeding generations."
George Allen White: "What turbulent curses and ravenous conspiracies fell for decades afoul thy noble head! How did the welkin ring with the uttermost invectives of hell-brewed hate! But a hundred years later and Thomas Paine—Thomas Paine the unspeakable—has been rehabilitated. His fame is secure and untarnished now. Rising the monuments. Splendid the horoscope of his future. Smoking the calumets. Like an impossible, unbelievable dream vanishes the memory of those tempestuous days of shameless bigotry."
Judge Charles B. Waite: "King and priest stood side by side, the one enslaving the body, the other the mind. Men and women were subjected to the most atrocious cruelties. Now and then, while mankind were struggling with their destiny, voices were heard—voices in the night—penetrating the surrounding gloom and reaching every ear. Such a voice was that of Shelley; such a voice was that of Voltaire; such a voice was that of Goethe; such was that of Thomas Paine.
"Thomas Paine has been pursued with falsehood and calumny for more than a hundred years, but his name and fame grow brighter and brighter as the years roll by. Already he is enrolled among the immortals as one of the real saviors of the World."
Mrs. Josephine K. Henry: "Thomas Paine—'One of the few, the immortal names that were not born to die."
"As an American woman I enshrine with gratitude the memory of the philosopher, poet, counselor, historian, moralist, statesman and liberator—the immortal Thomas Paine."
J. Atwood Culbertson: "Whether his remains now lie wrapped in the immaculate shroud of winter snow, or, hid beneath earth's coverlet of green, feed to fragrance the springtime flowers, kissed to life by April sun; or whether his dust imparts the gold to the summer's grain, or lends the tint to the autumn leaf, we do not know, we cannot say; but immortal is the name of Thomas Paine."
Charles Watts: "Not of one age, but for all time."
William Thurston Brown: "Thomas Paine belongs to the ages—not because he was Thomas Paine, but because the light which illumined his mind and the principles which motived his life are the noblest and richest blossoms the tree of human life can bear. Toward the heights he climbed leads every upward road that the fearless feet of seekers after truth in this or any age have trod."
"The purpose of his life, unequaled in purity, beneficence and grandeur of hope, 'lives and ever will live in the republics he invented, inspired and organized, and in the Religion of Humanity upon which they rest."—T. B. Wakeman.
"These words [Religion of Humanity] have blessed every religion. These three magic words, first uttered by Paine, will work on and on forever."—Ibid.
Harry Weir Boland:
"His heart the world embracing He served our sorest need, His mind his church displacing, Humanity his creed. Humanity his creed, Truth follows in his train, And of all those names the fairest Is that of Thomas Paine."
Mrs. Mattie Parry Krekel: "Let us all, then, lay the trifle of a word, a thought, a tear on the altar of the memory of him who will be one of the pillars of that coming church where all men's hands shall be clasped in the beautiful light of the sun of truth; the church which shall give us one Father—Nature, and one brotherhood—the whole wide world."
"I for one here cheerfully, reverently, throw my pebble on the cairn of his memory."—Walt Whitman.
Napoleon Bonaparte: "A statue of gold ought to be erected to you in every city in the universe."
Andrew Jackson: "Thomas Paine needs no monument made by hands; he has erected himself a monument in the hearts of all lovers of liberty."
J. P. Bland, B.D.: "Thomas Paine needs no marble to perpetuate his name, needs no granite to preserve his fame; for scattered through the whole wide world he has to-day a million living monuments, the harbingers of millions yet to come, and who, till time shall be no more, will bow the head in reverence and lift the heart in praise of him who so gloriously stood for reason and for right."
Dr. John E. Roberts: "So long as human rights are sacred and their defenders held in grateful remembrance; so long as liberty has a flag flung to the skies, a sanctuary in the hearts of men; so long, upon the eternal granite of history, luminous as light and imperishable as the stars, will be engraven the name of Thomas Paine."
Colonel Robert G. Ingersoll: "If to love your fellow-men more than self is goodness, Thomas Paine was good.
"If to be in advance of your time, to be a pioneer in the direction of right is greatness, Thomas Paine was great.
"If to avow your principles and discharge your duty in the presence of death is heroic, Thomas Paine was a hero."
"He died in the land his genius defended, under the flag he gave to the skies. Slander cannot touch him now; hatred cannot reach him more."
George E. Macdonald:
"O Champion, bravest in all the past! O Freedom, fairest of all the dames. Long may the pledge of your fealty last, Forever united be your names. And long as the flowers from the sod shall spring, Touched by a May day's warmth and light, A blossom and tear shall the lady bring To drop on the grave of her faithful knight."
Paine was the prophet of his age. From the dim twilight of the eighteenth century his prophetic eye pierced through the intervening years to and beyond the gray dawn of the twentieth. And when he viewed man's progress and beheld his glorious destiny, this matchless seer "rang out the old, rang in the new," rang out the rule and tyranny of king, rang out the dogmas and the ghosts of priest; rang in the reign of liberty and justice, rang in the faith of Reason and Humanity.
Yes, in the cause of man the battle of his life was fought, a fierce and stormy conflict. And as the night of death closed over the eventful struggle, from her accursed abode the gaunt figure of Bigotry stalked forth, and with demoniac peals of laughter danced around his prostrate form, rejoicing that her deadliest foe was gone. Her imps still live. How often do we see one of them in the pulpit take up this good man's name, and after covering it with all the slime that the venomous spirit of calumny has distilled, hold it up before his congregation, and with a counterfeited look of holy horror, affecting all the meekness of an expiring calf, rolling up the whites of his snaky eyes to cover the blackness of his brutal soul, exclaim, "This is Tom Paine!"
Vile creatures! let them do their worst. Let them summon to their aid all their hideous allies. Let Ignorance array her countless hosts; let the dark shades of Prejudice becloud the sky; let Hatred rave and curse; let the darts of Calumny pierce the white breast of Truth, and Slander clothe the tongues of all their minions. They strive in vain. The Crisis is past, the Age of Reason has dawned. Common Sense is fast supplanting Superstition, the Rights of Man are bound to triumph, and the author-hero's name will gather lustre as the years roll by.
"That man is thought a knave or fool, Or bigot plotting crime, Who for the advancement of his kind, Is wiser than his time. For him the hemlock shall distil, For him the axe be bared; For him the gibbet shall be built, For him the stake prepared. Him shall the scorn and wrath of men Pursue with deadly aim; And malice, envy, spite, and lies Shall desecrate his name. But never a truth has been destroyed, They may curse it, and call it crime; Pervert and betray, and slander and slay Its teachers for a time: But the sunshine, aye, shall light the sky, As round and round we run; And the truth shall ever come uppermost, And justice shall be done."
Ungrateful Athens bade her savior drain the poisoned cup. It did its work, the spark of life was quenched; but the name of Socrates shines on, undimmed by the flight of more than twenty centuries. Columbus languished in chains, forged by the nation he had made renowned; but no chains can bind the towering fame his genius won. Religious zealots sealed the lips of a philosopher; but could they stop the revolving earth? Could they control the rising tide that rolled upon the boundless sea of thought? No! the earth went round, the wave rolled on. To-day, the very church that persecuted Galileo reveres his name, accepts his teachings, and through his telescope, the instrument she once, condemned, her votaries, with eager eye and throbbing pulse, explore the starry fields of heaven. It is ever so: "Truth crushed to earth shall rise again." Each fierce Thermopylae she meets inspires some crowning Salamis. The wrongs of Thomas Paine shall be avenged. In vain his country passed to him the bitter cup; the fetters forged to chain his noble spirit to the dust were forged for naught; loving lips whisper, "It still moves!"
I pity the man whose soul is so small that he cannot rise above the level of his creed to do justice to those whose religious opinions have not been gauged by his particular standard. I am no Christian, but may I never become so ungrateful as to ignore my obligations to those who are. When war was desolating our fair land, and my young heart yearned to enlist in its defense, a Christian mother printed a kiss upon the cheek of her only boy and bade him go; Christian hands made the grand old flag we followed; Christian women visited our hospitals, ministering to the sick and wiping the death-damp from the brows of the dying; Christian generals led their troops on many a hard-fought field; and tonight the stately oak, the drooping willow, and the moaning pine stand sentinel by many a Christian soldier's grave. But they are not alone. Beside his Christian comrade—beneath the shadows of the same trees—a martyr to the same cause—sleeps the unbeliever. And would you strew with flowers and moisten with tears the grave that enfolds the one, and trample with scorn the turf that grows upon the other? Side by side they grandly marched to war; side by side they bravely fought; side by side heroically they fell; and in the murmuring stream that, wanders by their resting-place is heard the funeral chant of no religious creed, but nature's eternal sweet, sad requiem to all.
Go to the grave of Thomas Paine, my Christian friend. Stand beside the tomb where rest the ashes of this unappreciated genius. Take up his little volume "Common Sense." Open its pages and peruse its burning words. When done, unfold the map upon which are delineated "The Free and Independent States of America." Contemplate the inspiring picture wrought thereon—wrought by the author-hero's magic pen—then refuse the simple tribute of a tear or flower!
Who is responsible for the obloquy that has been cast upon the memory of this noble man? The church, the orthodox church alone, is responsible for it. And let me say to the church, it ill becomes you to point to the alleged moral delinquencies of this man while your own garments are soiled and crimsoned with the vice and crime of centuries. You claim that amid the thunders of Sinai God gave the Decalogue as a moral guide to man. Judged even by this standard the moral character of Thomas Paine will not suffer from a comparison with that of yours.
"Thou shalt have no other gods before me." "I believe in one God and no more," said Thomas Paine.
"Thou shalt worship no graven image." No worshiper of images was he.
"Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain." He abstained from profanity himself and rebuked it in others.
"Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy." He observed this law as faithfully as did his Christian neighbors.
"Honor thy father and thy mother." His parents were the objects of his reverence and love.
"Thou shalt not kill." He did not kill. He labored to abolish war and murder.
"Thout shalt not commit adultery." He was charged with adultery, and the foul beast who made the charge was forced to pay a heavy fine for his libelous assault.
"Thou shalt not steal." Were all mankind as honest as he was the locksmith's avocation would be gone.
"Thou shalt not bear false witness." From his truthful lips no one ever heard a falsehood fall.
"Thou shalt not covet." A man who consecrates his life to the cause of humanity, and who steadily refuses to be recompensed for his services, cannot be accused of covetousness.
Now, let me ask the church, what is your record? How have you kept even the commandments of your own law?
"Thou shalt have no other gods before me." And yet, you have persecuted, imprisoned, tortured, butchered, and burned thousands for not believing in a trinity of gods.
"Before no idol shalt thou bow thy knee." Your places of public worship are filled with idols—virgins, and saints, and crucifixes, and Bibles—objects of as blind adoration as the idols of heathen lands.
"Thou shalt not take the name of God in vain." On every hand our ears are greeted by the oaths of those who, whether belonging to any particular sect or not, believe in the existence of the God and the divinity of the Christ they curse.
"Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy." For eighteen hundred years you have not kept a Sabbath of your God. You observe a day he never authorized you to observe.
"Honor thy father and thy mother." The Christ you worship spurned the loving mother who bore him and declared that he who hated not father and mother could not be his disciple.
"Thou shalt not kill." You have made of earth a slaughter house. For centuries it resounded with the shrieks of murdered millions, victims of your relentless fury. And today your votaries are drenching Europe's soil with blood.
"Thou shalt not commit adultery." Your most immaculate saints violate this commandment and become a stench in the nostrils of decent people.
"Thou shalt not steal." Today the prisons of Europe and America shelter three hundred thousand Christian thieves.
"Thou shalt not bear false witness." Perjury is rife in Christendom; and even in heathen lands the very name of Christianity has become a synonym for falsehood and deceit.
"Thou shalt not covet." Your history is the history of covetousness itself. Christian Rome has tried to devour the world. A little while ago we saw the Greek cross planted upon the Balkan—saw the Russian eagle perched upon those snowy crags, gloating over the misfortunes of Turkey, eager to clutch in his greedy talons the territory of Islam, and prevented only by the jealous wolves of Protestantism.
No wonder that the warmest hearts and brightest intellects are leaving you. Upon your walls they read the fateful words that met the terrified gaze of Babylon's sinful king. Your devotees are looking forward to a millennium when your power on earth shall be supreme. Delusive phantom! your millennium has come and gone. That dark blot on the page of history—that withering pall stretching across the centuries from Constantine to Luther—that constitutes the thousand years of Christian rule foretold in the Apocalypse. But that has past, and your power is vanishing, never to be restored again. From the ashes of that dauntless hero, Giordano Bruno, young Science, phoenixlike, arose, and in the soil prepared by Luther, sowed the seed whose harvest is your death. Even now I hear your death-knell ringing; even now I gaze into a sepulchre where soon must lie your Bible and your creeds—your stakes, your gibbets and your racks—your priests, your devil and your God! And when the last have been entombed, then gather up the crumbling bones of the one hundred million human beings who have perished at your hands, and let this ghastly pile remain, a most befitting monument to your unbounded cruelties and crimes!
It is a pleasing thought to know that bigotry is fading from the earth. It can flourish only in the malarial swamps of ignorance and superstition, and the poisonous vapors arising from these loathsome regions are being fast dispelled by the sun of science.
An incident in the life of Nicholas I. of Russia furnishes a fitting parallel to what the bigots of our time are now experiencing. Among the many admirers of that other great Deist, Voltaire, was the Empress Catharine, who ordered a statue of him from the leading sculptor of Europe. When it arrived Catharine was dying, and for years it lay untouched in the box in which it had been shipped.
At length Alexander caused it to be set up in a room of the imperial palace, where it remained until Nicholas ascended the throne. Nicholas was a most admirable type of the religious bigot; he was ignorant and intolerant, and the character of Voltaire was the object of his especial hatred. Hardly had he donned the imperial robes before he began to realize
"How uneasy lies the head that wears a crown."
An insurrection had broken out in one of his provinces. Troubled and perplexed, he was wandering through the halls of the palace when, suddenly, he stood face to face with the statue of Voltaire. That haughty smile, so natural to the face of the living Voltaire, had been transferred to his marble image; and now it seemed to mock the troubled emperor. He summoned one of his ministers and ordered him to remove the offensive work. The minister did so, placing it in an old lumber room of the palace. All went well with the emperor until one night the cry of "fire!" resounded in his ears. The palace was on fire. Rushing to the scene of the conflagration he chanced to pass through the very room to which the statue had been removed, and again he stood before the object of his hatred. The red glare of the flames added to the terrors of the scene, and, for a moment, Nicholas fancied himself translated to the dominions of Satan and standing before his throne. The flames were finally extinguished, the greater portion of the palace was saved, and with it the statue. But the remembrance of this terrible scene haunted him like an apparition all night long. He could not sleep. In the morning he summoned his minister and ordered him to destroy the work of art. Out of respect for the dead Catharine the order was unheeded. Years rolled by; the armies of England and France had invaded the Crimea and defeated with frightful slaughter the armies of the czar. Then flashed to St. Petersburg news of the bombardment of Sebastopol which ultimately fell. It was night, and, wild with anguish, Nicholas was again wandering through those desolate halls—lighted only by the weird moonbeams that came straggling through the palace windows—when, for the third time, he was confronted by the ghostly statue. Again he summoned his minister. But his iconoclastic spirit was broken. He no longer demanded the destruction of the statue, but simply begged his official to remove it to where he should never more behold it. The wily minister bethought him of a place never visited by his sovereign, and accordingly had it removed to the imperial library. Nicholas is no more; but the statue remains—a silent monarch in that realm of thought—an object, not of abhorrence and dread, but of admiration.
As the Russian bigot was haunted by the statue of Voltaire, so the bigots of our day and country are haunted by the memory of Paine. Theological insurrections are breaking out on every hand; the intellectual fires of the twentieth century are encircling and consuming the rude palace of Superstition; they hear the cannon of Science thundering before the walls of their Sebastopol. Terror-stricken, aimlessly and hopelessly they wander on, only to be confronted at every turn by the ghost of Thomas Paine. Unhappy beings, this will not forever last. Not always will the good name of Thomas Paine stand as a phantom to frighten bigots. Gently and lovingly his friends are removing it, passing it on from generation to generation, to a better and a grander age—to an age across whose threshold no bigot's foot shall ever pass. Then, when the Republic of the World has been established, and the Religion of Humanity has become the universal religion, all mankind will recognize the worth and revere the memory of him who wrote the political and religious creed of this glorious day:
—THE WORLD IS MY COUNTRY, TO DO GOOD MY RELIGION.