Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Mightier Than the Sword – The Impact of the Ideas of Thomas Paine on the American Revolution

By Harry Whittaker
Friday, 28 March 2008

Without the pen of Paine, the sword of Washington would have been wielded in vain. (Joel Barlow, American diplomat and poet)

There was but one topic of conversation throughout the American colonies in the summer of 1776. Although the settlers were locked in a bloody armed struggle with Britain the talk was not, as one would expect, of battles won or lost. Wherever people gathered, in every farmyard and factory, in every tavern and town, from the lowest paid farmhands to the richest merchants and landholders, the talk was the same: Common Sense. This was the title of a 47-page political pamphlet which was gripping everyone's imagination with its powerful, persuasive arguments against the monarchy and in favour of American independence.

But who was the author of this unsigned work which was so dramatically changing the attitude of so many Americans towards the nature of their conflict with the ‘Mother Country'? The political and intellectual elite were certain it was one of their own: "...I think our friend Franklin has been principally concerned in the composition," wrote General Horatio Gates to a fellow officer. Others credited were Thomas Jefferson and John Adams (two future presidents of the USA); others thought it was Samuel Adams, who was to become governor of Massachusetts. But it was none of these political luminaries. The author was a recent arrival on America's shores. His name was Thomas Paine.

Born on January 29, 1737, the son of a Quaker father and Anglican mother, Paine lead an interesting and eventful, but ultimately unhappy life in England. Twice married (his first wife died when he was twenty-four-years-old.), his career in his homeland was varied: privateer, teacher, preacher, customs officer and shopkeeper, he campaigned for better wages for his colleagues, the poorly paid excisemen. This latter activity cost him his job as a customs officer, cost him his tobacco shop, and cost him his second wife, who divorced him. The unhappy, disillusioned Paine returned from Lewes, where he had been stationed as an exciseman, to London, where a friend introduced him to an elderly but energetic American, the sixty-eight-year-old scientist, writer and statesman Benjamin Franklin. Franklin took an immediate liking to him and was later to boast that Thomas Paine was his "...adopted political son." Sensing that Paine was the sort of man who belonged to the America he hoped to build, he urged him to emigrate there. On November 30th, 1774, Paine arrived in Philadelphia with a letter of introduction to Franklin's son and son-in-law in his pocket.

Paine looked around Philadelphia, the unofficial capital of the American colonies, and liked what he saw: a society of mixed religions and ethnicity, its immigrant workers were spirited and dynamic; they were eager to seek a better life than that which they had endured in the oppressive regimes of England and the rest of Europe. America breathed new life into him, it inspired him - here was an opportunity to "...begin the world anew."

It was far from perfect, this new society that Paine had joined: there were inequalities and there were social injustices; many of the richer settlers and landowners behaved just like the English gentry, and worst of all - there was slavery! But these wrongs could be put right. This was a young country peopled by many who had themselves fled from various forms of injustice and oppression in their own homelands; the ordinary men and women in this new world could, given direction and leadership, make this land the best place in the world to live in, and set a shining example for the rest of humanity. And Thomas Paine was determined to point them in the right direction. He was excited to learn that even the lowest paid workers were already demanding the right to vote in city elections, and there was even talk that the Philadelphia Militia were demanding the right to elect their own officers. Yes - these were people with fire in their bellies, these were people capable of shaping their own destiny.

He was in his element when he was offered a job as editor in a new periodical, The Pennsylvania magazine. Along with editing, he was also writing articles for The Pennsylvania and other magazines. He railed against slavery:

"That some desperate wretches should be willing to steal and enslave men by violence and murder for gain, is rather lamentable than strange. But that many civilized, nay, Christianized people should approve, and be concerned in the savage practice, is surprising." (March 1775).

Under his editorship The Pennsylvania became the biggest selling periodical in America. He was on the crest of a wave: his own writing was attracting critical acclaim, and Franklin's son-in-law, Richard Bache, was introducing him to some of Philadelphia's leading citizens. Then once again things took a turn for the worse: he angered John Witherspoon (the magazine's co-publisher) by editing some of his work. He was obliged to resign and the vindictive Witherspoon slandered him with false allegations that he was a drunkard. Paine did not drink to excess but for the rest of his life his many detractors maliciously circulated this false rumour.

But in 1775 there were more pressing matters occupying Paine's thoughts: the quarrel between America and Britain had escalated into open warfare with the battles of Lexington and Concord in April, followed by a much bloodier confrontation at Bunker Hill in June. He concluded that the aims of this dispute must now be changed. It was no longer sufficient to fight for rights and justice within the framework of the British Empire; it was time for Americans to sever links with Britain and assert their independence. To this end he set himself the task of writing what was to become the biggest-selling, most widely read and successful political pamphlet in history: Common Sense.

We Were Blind

"We were blind, but on reading these enlightening words the scales have fallen from our eyes." Thus wrote a Connecticut reader to the Pennsylvania Post in 1776. To appreciate the impact of Paine's writing it is essential to be aware of the prevailing psychology at the time. It is true that there always were some who had advocated fighting for independence, but they were very much in the minority. Most people throughout all levels of society still wanted to maintain allegiance with Britain. They believed it was parliament, and not ‘good' King George, that was to blame for the unfair taxation that was being imposed upon them. Get rid of these vile ministers and Americans would dwell with respect and dignity under the British constitution as part of the Empire. George Washington and his fellow officers were still drinking to the King's health; Thomas Jefferson wrote: "There is not a man in the British Empire who more cordially loves a union with Great Britain than I do."

Washington, one of the richest men in America, and others of his ilk, had every reason to remain locked into the British Empire; they were alarmed by the growing confidence of the working-class whom they despised and wished to keep in their place. Statesman Gouverneur Morris referred to the common people as ‘reptiles'. And of course the ordinary people themselves, preconditioned by generations of having loyalty to king and country drilled into their psyches, were still proud to be British.

Then Common Sense struck the continent like an earthquake, its shockwaves shattering the political status quo in every state along the entire East coast of America. No longer would his royal majesty be held in such reverence and awe, no longer would the workers and peasants regard the aristocracy and the landed gentry of Britain (and America) as their betters. Overnight the people of America had become wide awake to reality, and they were demanding the right to rule themselves - total independence! Such was the power of Tom Paine's pen.

Common Sense was published on January 10, 1776, and the world had seen nothing like it before. It was the most powerful and persuasive piece of political writing that had ever been produced; its irrefutable logic utterly destroyed the case for the monarchy, the aristocracy and the corrupt system of British government. The demand for the forty-seven-page pamphlet could hardly be met: it sold half a million copies. Considering the size of the population, of which a large proportion could neither read nor write, this made it the biggest seller of all time; relative to today's population the equivalent sales would be 50 million. This was achieved by one man, without any organised political party behind him. One can sense the excitement and growing confidence the American settlers must have felt as Paine demolished the myth of the monarchy, beginning with William the Conqueror - "A French bastard landing with an armed banditti, and establishing himself King of England against the consent of the natives." He then went on to belittle "...the folly of hereditary right in kings." He argued for the separation of church and state, went on to discuss America's economic, military and naval potential and suggested a framework for American self government.

After reading the pamphlet the vast majority of working-class Americans, and even many of the social elite, were convinced that complete independence was the only way forward for their country. Paine's achievement was swift, incredible and irreversible. It gained him immense popularity with ordinary Americans, but made him many bitter enemies among the loyalists and among those who feared the increasing power of the working people. There followed a concerted effort by many of the social elite to attack Common Sense, leading to an intense war of words in the Pennsylvania press between Paine and his many detractors, especially John Adams (not to be confused with John Quincy Adams), who developed a lifelong hatred for him. But now the people's demand for independence could not be stopped. Washington wrote to his secretary, Joseph Reed: "...by private letters I have lately received from Virginia, I find ‘Common Sense' is working a powerful change in the minds of men." On July 4th, 1776, Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence.

These Are the Times That Try Men's Souls

That year Paine enlisted in the militia and became aide to General Nathaniel Greene¸ arguably the best general on either side. Washington was now Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army. He was an imposing personality and was personally brave, but as a field commander he left much to be desired. To his credit he was aware of his shortcomings, and the shortcomings of his militia. He enlisted the Prussian officer Friedrich von Steuben to drill his troops into military efficiency and co-opted the aid of La Fayette's French army and De Grasse's French fleet to help America's cause. Astonishingly, considering the availability of an abundance of expert horsemen, he never developed a cavalry wing to his army. His idea of ‘inspiring' his men was to threaten them with hanging if they showed cowardice in battle, hardly the hallmark of a great leader. It was his good fortune that he had an able subordinate in Greene and that his British counterpart, Howe, allowed himself to be distracted from the job in hand by his American mistress. By the end of the year the outlook was bleak for America's cause: Washington's army was in retreat and soldiers were deserting their units every day; Congress had fled from Philadelphia, fearing its occupation by British troops and everyone was anticipating defeat. Everyone except Thomas Paine. In his American Crisis (the first of many with that title) he penned the stirring words that were to fan the flames of American patriotism:

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.

The American Crisis sold in tens of thousands, boosted morale, revived recruitment and turned the tide of battle. Washington ordered his officers to read Crisis to his troops. The troops listened to Paine's words, crossed the Delaware, routed the Hessian troops and captured Trenton. The situation had been completely turned around. As with Common Sense, Paine never took a penny from the profits of his writing, he gave it all to provide clothing for the troops. Throughout the Revolutionary War he devoted himself tirelessly to the cause, serving in various posts and issuing pamphlets, continuously rousing the flagging morale of the Americans:

Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must like men, undergo the fatigues of supporting it.

When Washington's depleted army was taking refuge in Valley Forge and Congress was questioning his ability to command, it was Paine who came to his defence - a loyalty that was not reciprocated by Washington when Paine later needed his help. He also endeavoured to patch up teething problems in the young and growing nation, advising on territorial disputes, taxation and other matters of government. Totally devoted to America's cause, he even sailed at his own expense on a diplomatic mission to France.

On October 19, 1781, the British forces under General Cornwallis were decisively beaten by combined French and American troops. Britain's cloak of invincibility was torn to shreds and it was the beginning of the end for the mighty British Empire. America was the first revolutionary state to defeat a great European power - the war ended with the Treaty of Paris in April, 1783.

The far seeing Paine was still anxious about the future of the union, realising that many Americans took it too lightly. He feared that some states might, for reasons such as slavery and commerce, decide to break away and go it alone:

"I ever feel myself hurt when I hear the union, that great palladium of our liberty and safety, the least irreverently spoken of. It is the most sacred thing in the constitution of America."

And the declared purpose of the ‘Union of the States':

"To see it in our power to make a world happy, to teach mankind the art of being so, to exhibit, on the theatre of the Universe a character hitherto unknown."

The Rights of Man

"I wonder you did not hang that scoundrel Paine for his blackguard libel on king, lords, and commons. I suppose the extreme scurrility of the pamphlet, or the villainy of those who wish to disperse it among the common people, has carried through so many editions. For it appears to me to have no merit whatever; but it may do mischief in ale-houses in England, and even more in whiskey-houses in Ireland. I think it by far the most treasonable book that ever went unpunished within my knowledge; so, pray, hang the fellow if you can catch him." (Lord Mornington.)

The war was over. Thomas Paine had given his all to the revolution: the proceeds from his writings had gone to help the war effort and now he was jobless and without an income. He petitioned Congress for a modest pension in acknowledgement of his contribution to the war's success. He had the support of Franklin, Jefferson and Washington. But he had also made some powerful enemies and they were not going to make life easy for him. His fight for democracy, his egalitarianism, his zealous opposition to corruption had earned him the implacable enmity and undying hatred of many in the rich, landowning ‘aristocracy' of America. So Congress rejected his petition but agreed to a grant of $3,000 - he would have been much, much richer if he'd kept the proceeds from his writings. Pennsylvania gave him a gift of $500 and New York gave him a farm which had been confiscated from a Tory landowner. He now had breathing space to contemplate his future.

As a young man Paine had learned a lot about science and engineering by reading and attending lectures; he decided to put his knowledge to practical use. He designed an iron bridge which he believed was safer and more durable than the traditional wooden bridges of his day. But no one in America was willing to invest in his project so, on Franklin's advice, he sailed for London and Paris to seek backing. He expected to be away for a few months; it was to be sixteen years before he saw his beloved America again.

It was 1787, just two years before the storming of the Bastille. Things were changing in France - and in England. In France the poor and the middle-classes were seething with anger at the heavy taxation they suffered while the nobility shared little or none of the burden of running the country. Soldiers returning from America spoke of the more just and democratic society that was growing in the new republic and this made the French masses determined to build a more just society for themselves. Their anger would soon turn into a terrible, unstoppable rage which would eventually give rise to the ‘reign of terror'.

England at that time was the most industrially advanced and commercially successful nation in the world, but its people paid a terrible price: the momentum of the industrial revolution led to merciless exploitation, inhuman working conditions and a wretched, poverty-stricken existence for the working-class. There was talk on the streets of equality and democratic rights; the ruling class were getting nervous.

Paine spent two years trying to find investors for his bridge, while inevitably involving himself in the turbulent politics of the times. Then on July 14, 1789, the crowds stormed the Bastille and soon afterwards began invading the great estates of the landowning aristocracy. The next twenty-five years of European history would be written in blood as the ancien régime struggled to maintain the status quo.

It was Thomas Paine's dream that the revolutionary zeal which had crossed the Atlantic to France would quickly spread throughout Europe, creating republics in place of monarchies, each republic working in harmony with its neighbours to create a humane and civilized Europe - "To begin the world anew."

The turncoat Edmund Burke, who had originally championed the American Revolution, was now paid by the British Government to write Reflections on the Revolution in France, which was to give him the reputation as the father of modern conservatism. Marx was to say of Burke:

"The sycophant - who in pay of the English oligarchy played the romantic laudatory temporis acti against the French Revolution just as, in the pay of North American colonies at the beginning of the American troubles, he had played the liberal against the English oligarchy, was an out and out vulgar bourgeois."

Burke's condemnation of the French Revolution was considered to be a great success but it really was a wasted exercise: it was aimed at the upper classes and the well educated, preaching loyalty for the monarchy and the aristocracy. It was preaching to the converted. And that was the difference between his writing and Paine's. Paine had the ability to communicate with all levels of society, from the poorest to the richest: Burke's Reflections sold 20,000 copies in a year, whereas Common Sense sold several times that in a month. There were many radicals in England who took issue with Burke but, not surprisingly, the most effective reply came from Paine's Rights of Man.

Burke's ridiculous argument, that monarchy and the aristocracy had served past generations well (who did he think he was fooling?), and that the present and future generations should perpetuate this tradition, was rubbished by Paine. Burke not only denied that the people of England had the right to choose or reject their own government, but also claimed:

"That the people of England utterly disclaim such a right, and that they will resist the practical assertion of it with their lives and fortunes."

Paine replied:

"That men should take up arms, and spend their lives and fortunes not to maintain their rights, but to maintain they have no rights, is an entire new species of discovery, and suited to the paradoxical genius of Mr Burke."

The establishment's ‘intellectual champion' was no match for Paine. He tore apart Burke's arguments with the same irrefutable logic and scathing sarcasm that had defeated so many of his political adversaries in the past. He also encouraged the spirit of revolution in Britain by advocating a system of graduated taxation on the wealthy that would provide child education; pensions for the aged; maternity benefits and other proposals for helping the poor and unemployed. He was a man ahead of his time. But most audacious of all - he defiantly called for the establishment of a British Republic! This was too much - freedom of speech was guaranteed in England of course, but only if you said the right things - it was time to hang Tom Paine!

On September 14th, 1792, Paine, who had been elected to the new National Convention in France for the purpose of writing a new constitution, left England on a boat bound for Calais. It was a fortuitous departure: Pitt and his government were poised to vent their wrath upon their tormentor, but now he was out of their grasp. In vindictive fury they conducted a witch-hunt, persecuting and imprisoning everyone involved in publishing, selling and in any way promoting Paine's writings. Paine was tried in his absence and found guilty of seditious libel for writing The Rights of Man.

The French Revolution

He arrived in Calais to a hero's welcome and its citizens elected him their representative to the new National Convention. These were perilous times for the people of France: surrounded by hostile nations, they were at war with Austria and Prussia, and Louis XVI was in prison for colluding with the enemy. The republicans were split into two factions: Girondins (moderates) and Jacobins (radicals). It was only a matter of time before the revolution began to devour its own children.

At the Convention he and the other delegates voted to abolish the monarchy and France was declared a Republic. He was then appointed to the committee responsible for drafting a new constitution. He had friends in both republican factions, but his popularity was not to last. Although Paine loathed the monarchy he opposed the execution of Louis XVI. He proposed instead that Louis be exiled to America, where he would be unable to meddle in France's affairs. He had been sickened by the concept of capital punishment when, as a child growing up in Thetford, he witnessed the horrifying spectacle of poor working-class people who had been hanged for stealing a mere pittance: there was a clear view of Thetford's Gallows Hill from the house he grew up in. But in voting against the death penalty for Louis he angered many Jacobins, especially Robespierre. And Robespierre was about to come to power.

In the ensuing power struggle the Jacobins emerged victorious and showed no mercy to their political opponents; the Reign of Terror commenced. On December 28th, 1793, Paine was arrested. There is no doubt that it would have taken just one word from George Washington to obtain his release, but Washington remained silent: he was keen to resume trade with England and he knew the British establishment wanted to see Paine dead. Business and commerce came before loyalty and friendship to the politically pragmatic Washington. This perfidy must have astonished as well as embittered Paine: Washington had previously been a loyal supporter of Paine and had given him great credit for his part in America's victory over Britain. Equally treacherous was the American Minister to France, Gouverneur Morris. He could have effected Paine's release with little effort, but had no intention of doing so. Morris, who believed that no decent civilization could exist without an aristocracy, would have been delighted to see Tom Paine's head roll - and it almost did.

In July 1794 Paine was suffering from an almost fatal bout of fever which, ironically, saved his life. The day before he was due to be executed his cell mates asked that the cell door be left open to allow the air to circulate and cool the fever. When the prison officers came to mark the cell doors of the condemned prisoners, Paine's door was opened wide, with the inside of the door now facing outwards and the outside face of the door tight against the wall. Because of this the inside of the door was marked by the prison officers. When the door was closed later that night the ‘condemned' mark was on the inside of the cell and was not seen by the executioners who came to collect their victims next morning. Thus, by sheer chance, Tom Paine missed his appointment with death. Before his execution could be rescheduled his persecutor was overthrown and it was Robespierre's head that tumbled into the executioner's basket. Some historians claim that Washington did nothing to save Paine because he was unaware of his plight; this is naïve, Paine himself had no doubts about Washington's treachery. He remained imprisoned until Morris was replaced by James Monroe, who obtained his release on November 5th. Still severely ill, he was looked after by Monroe and his wife at their official residence.

Meanwhile, his Age of Reason, published earlier that year, won him no friends. Paine was by this time a Deist, believing in God but not in organized religion. He enraged church leaders by criticizing the bible, saying of the Old Testament: "... a history of grossest vices and a collection of the most paltry and contemptible tales." Referring to the New Testament he described Christ as a virtuous man, a reformer and a revolutionist, but dismissed the Immaculate Conception and Christ's resurrection as fraudulent stories. Age of Reason gave his enemies all the ammunition they needed to destroy his popularity in that God-fearing age.

Return to America

Relations between Monroe and Paine became strained as a result of Paine's hostility to Washington and in 1796 he moved out of Monroe's house. He wanted to return to America but French ports were being blockaded by the British navy so he moved in with the family of Nicolas de Bonneville, writing articles for de Bonneville's paper, Bien Informé. Despite his non-stop political activity he also continued with his passion for engineering, designing canal systems, bridges and cranes. Then in 1801 Thomas Jefferson, now president, offered to bring him back to America, a decision that brought down a torrent of criticism on the president's head from the political opposition. In October 1802, the sixty-five year old Paine arrived in Baltimore to be met by a storm of abuse from the Federalist press. Although he still had loyal friends he was faced with widespread hostility wherever he went, but he remained politically active, writing letters criticizing the Federalist opposition and proposing to Jefferson that the United States purchase the Louisiana Territory.

In 1803 Margaret de Bonneville and her three sons arrived in America: her husband was under surveillance by the French police and could not leave France, so Paine assumed responsibility for the children's education. Despite his fading health and wealth (he had to sell part of his farm to pay his debts) his pen was in constant use, writing to and for the press on varied subjects. When Jefferson did buy Louisiana from France in April 1803 for $15,000,000 it was the biggest land deal ever struck between two nations: the Louisiana Purchase stretched east to west from the Mississippi to the Rocky Mountains, north to south from Canada to the Mexican Gulf. But Jefferson appalled Paine by allowing the establishment of slavery in the new territory. Bitterly disappointed, he pleaded with the president to permit black families to leave the ‘slave states' and settle there. But Jefferson rejected his pleas and the curse of slavery was perpetuated until, sixty years later, it tore the country apart.

In his final years his condition became pitiful: his health reduced him to a shadow of his once indefatigable self, and he was kept alive by the charity of friends; he was even refused the right to vote on the grounds that he was not a true American. This last insult, coming after the treacherous treatment meted out to him by Washington and Morris, must have been devastating: the man who was known as ‘the voice of the revolution', the man who had done more than any man alive to inspire and motivate the people of America to free their young country from the shackles of British imperialism, was turned away at the polling station. He spent his last days in the rented house of the de Bonneville family, where he died on the morning of June 8th, 1809. On his deathbed he was approached by Presbyterian ministers who asked him to accept the Christian Church; defiant to the end, he gave them short shrift. He was buried the next day, with few to mourn him, at his New Rochelle farm, having been refused burial at the Quaker cemetery.

Lest We Forget

"To all these champions of the oppressed Paine set an example of courage, humanity and single-mindedness. When public issues were involved, he forgot personal prudence. The world decided, as it usually does in such cases, to punish him for his lack of self-seeking; to this day his fame is less than it should have been if his character had been less generous. Some worldly wisdom is required even to secure praise for the lack of it". (Bertrand Russell: The Fate of Thomas Paine)

Russell is correct in saying that Paine is less prominent in history's hall of fame than most of his less worthy contemporaries: both as a human being and as a contributor to the momentous political events of his time he stood head and shoulders above all of them. A tireless seeker of justice and truth, a dedicated champion of ordinary working people, he was generations ahead of his time in his political thinking. Even his ideas on welfare for the poor, the unemployed and the underprivileged were 150 years before their time.

But it is not merely his lack of self interest which accounts for his lack of historical acclaim: since his death there has been a conscious attempt by the political establishments of Britain and the USA to underplay his contribution to 18th and 19th century history and to slur his reputation (Theodore Roosevelt called him a ‘dirty little atheist'). His lucid and logical ideas on the governance of nations would still embarrass the corrupt excuses for so-called democratic governments which prevail in the USA, Britain and the rest of Europe today. His anti-clericalism and his criticism of organised religion with all its hypocritical ‘pomp and circumstance' has incurred the indignant wrath of all branches of the religious establishment in Europe and America, and his anti-monarchist views did nothing to endear him to the British establishment.

Thus the man who was a household name in America, Britain, Ireland and France in his lifetime, and whose fame was more widespread than even Jefferson, Franklin or Washington, has been deliberately shunted into the sidelines of history. True, American presidents occasionally quote him, usually out of context, when it suits them. But his name will not be found on the list of Founding Fathers of the USA despite his enormous contribution to the cause of American independence. As for England, there are relatively few today in the land of his birth who have even heard of him.

But things are changing: Richard Attenborough recently expressed an ambition to film his life story. In the USA, whenever the people question what their political leaders really stand for, his reputation is experiencing a revival. In Morristown, New Jersey, a monument has been erected to him; his Common Sense has been listed as number one in historian E.F. Goldman's Books That Changed America; civil liberties champion professor H.S. Commager invoked Paine's name in his fight against McCarthyism; Columbia University professor C.W. Mills (who died tragically young) put Paine on a par with Max Weber and Karl Marx.

Thomas Paine was a truly great man who used his genius as a writer to fight for a better life for ordinary working people, a cause to which he dedicated his own life. No other writer had such a dramatic and immediate impact on the political events of his time. No other man before or since has proved so effectively that words are weapons, and that the pen is indeed mightier than the sword.


Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

From the picture, he looks a real ladies man, he is so smooth!

SecondComingOfBast said...

Damn good article, but damn, Ren PLEASE-increase the size of your font. Double the size at the very least. Long articles like this are torture on the eyes with such a small font.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Agree with the pagan temple.


Some of us are disabled...

white rabbit said...

Renegade - I've some dim recollection of reading that Paine was refused US citizenship - and his vocal opposition to slavery was the reason for this - am I right?

Graeme said...

Paine's "age of reason" is a very big influence on me.

K. said...

Citizen Paine remains unappreciated to this day. Sadly, conservatives appropriated the "sunshine patriot" line for their own ends: If I heard it once during the Vietnam War -- an undertaking that surely would have appalled Paine -- I heard it a thousand times. This a perfect example of how the thinking of the most articulate advocate of the Enlightenment is taken out of context.

Larry Gambone said...

I have always admired Paine. With his concern for working people, was beyond classical liberalism. He was also a very important influence in artisan radicalism in England which then fed directly into the development of socialism.

Frank Partisan said...

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill: You should look into his life. Quite the guy.

Pagan: I didn't know for sure what type of font to use. Bold seems to work.

White Rabbit: Never heard that before. If it was true, I'm sure it would have been in the post.

K: My favorite out of context remark is that the Founding Fathers, believed in the idea of a Christian nation.

Graeme: This post I think really recognizes his stature as a revolutionist.

white rabbit said...

Renegade - further thoughts on Tom Paine. As you know he was a prominent opponent of slavery and as such incurred the loathing of the slaveowners. His later years were a dismal affair - shunned rather than acclaimed. Online researches reveal that he was a US citizen. Was he ever stripped of citizenship?

Oh and two things I didn't know about him:

1. Despite being elected to the French Constituent Assembly, he didn't speak French.

2. He campaigned passionately against the execution of Louis XVI. He had a position on the death penalty. He was against it. No exceptions.

sonia said...

the Reign of Terror commenced. On December 28th, 1793, Paine was arrested. There is no doubt that it would have taken just one word from George Washington to obtain his release

Hopelessly naive statement. In the Reign of Terror, even such heroes of the revolution as Danton and Desmoulins were executed mercilessly.

Just being born in England made Paine a marked man. Parisian mob was xenophobic and thirsty for blood.

Revolution was devouring its children.

All revolutions are evil. All revolutionaries are fools.

roman said...

This was a very interesting historical perspective of Thomas Paine's "overlooked" contributions to the American Revolution. The point about it being the only successful challenge against the British Crown up to that time cannot be understated. It curtailed the British Empire’s blatant and overt lust for world domination and set it on a more moderate political and economic philosophy. Thereby, the American Revolution indirectly secured a wiser political course in London which might have been the catalyst for another two hundred years of prosperity for them.
Being the anti-monarchist that Paine was, it must have been incredibly disappointing to experience, first-hand, the Reign of Terror under Robespierre. The ruthless and unmerciful death and destruction of vicious and uncontrolled mob rule must have been an enormously tragic and obviously ironic trauma to his psyche and conscience. I can only imagine the tremendous doubts to his revolutionary zeal and convictions upon seeing the unnecessary death and destruction taking place around him.
His almost supernatural drive and instinct for equality and liberty for the “common” man made him indispensable in the course of the American Revolution but just a supporting cast member in the French Revolution.
I would not go as far as calling him a fool, like Sonia did, but as he languished in that French prison awaiting his decapitation; he must have felt somewhat “foolish”? :-))

Craig Bardo said...


I don't know how one goes beyond classical liberalism in concern for the common man. When you do that it becomes confiscatory instead of humanitarian.


Can you support the contention that all revolutions are evil? I have a bias toward those that are natural responses to tyranny and based on right thinking leading to increased personal liberty.


This was an interesting take on Paine. Talk about cherry picking. Even that old manifesto favorite # 2) progressive taxation! Thomas Paine wasn't the only founder opposed to slavery either, far from it.

Marxist revolutionary, he was not! Yes, he was a deist, but not atheist. Yes, he was the equivalent of a union organizer, in some respects, but he was not a statist by any stretch of the imagination. On a contemporary basis, he was shunned, but historically he is revered or at least he was in my education.

Stimulating article nonetheless.

Anonymous said...

Nice piece, Ren. I would simply reiterate that Paine was no Jacobin. He was a Girondist. The thought that you must proscribe and kill your politcal enemy countrymen, rather than devise a means of sharing and rotating power, was anethema to classical liberals of Paine's stripe. But given the ambitions and extreme actions of the Jacobins, one can hardly blame a Charlotte Corday.

Take note, radicals.

Frank Partisan said...

Larry G: From the response to this post, it's amazing for a historical person, to be so admired.

White Rabbit: Very interesting addition.

Sonia: We have the advantage of past history, and a strong material base.

Roman: Your political comrades in arms, are often your worst enemies.

CB: Paine was an advanced thinker and activist for his time. Things have to be in context.

FJ: Remember "Marat Sade?"

Anonymous said...

I would say I'm "living it", but perhaps I should watch the DVD, first. ;-)

steven rix said...

During the XVIIIth century people were burnt on the stakes for displaying anti-religious thinking. I've always suspected that Thomas Paine was not a deist but a real atheist, otherwise he would have been in trouble with the Church.
Thomas Paine was the friend of Adam Smith, and they shared the same vision, they wanted less government for a better government. Adam Smith was often in Paris in secret meetings with different french writers, and Thomas Paine was initiated to atheism with the Baron d'Holbach.
Thomas Paine was in trouble in England and in France and at the end of his life he was living around Philadelphia and got buried over there. Then a few years later, they tried to rehabilitate Thomas Paine in England, and they removed his body from the sepulture. On the way back to England the boat was in a tempest and they lost his body.

I've always liked the period of enlightment, being an atheist at this time was a revolutionary act.

Well I believe I'll be going back to work this week or next week, night shift, so I don't think I'll be blogging for a while. The dollar is so low lately that the big european companies are delocalizing everything to the US, and I'll be working within the US for a logistics european company in IT.

Foxessa said...

I haven't seen any evidence that Paine was denied U.S. citizenship because of his stance on slavery. Post the U.S. Revolution he lived quietly on a farm Congress had granted to him in New Rochelle and in Bordentown, N.J. He was working on several inventions. One, a pierless iron bridge to cross the Schuylkill River, took him abroad in 1787 to secure advice from the French Academy of Sciences and English technical assistance.

It was at that point he went on a visit to France, and then moved back to England and wrote a pamphlet that essentially exhorted the British people to overthrow the monarchy and he fell out with Burke. So he went back to France.

Then he alienated the French Terrorists by objecting to the beheading of the King. Washington -- whether he could have or not, who knows -- didn't get Paine of French prison -- he didn't try to get Lafayette's dear son out of prison either, and Lafayette was in exile.

It was Paine's criticism of religion that most of all got him ostracized here in the U.S. when he returned in 1804 because the nation had fallen into the Great Awakening. And also his criticism of President Washington as a false friend who didn't help him get out of prison in France.

This is strange since Paine's really good friend, who invited him back to the U.S. was Jefferson, who was a good friend to France to the end of his days. so it wasn't slavery that divided Paine from Washington, since he stayed on good terms with Jefferson who owned far more slaves.

Paine also was deeply critical of Federalism. He advised Jefferson -- who had been his principle inviter -- that the Louisiana Purchase was an excellent move. This is tragic irony, since it allowed for the continental expansion of slavery, or so the southern slaverholders believed was their right to do.

Love, C.

Frank Partisan said...

Paine On Slavery.

Foxessa: You have interesting views on Jefferson. He is gaining favor, often at the top as best presidents. There are some who think Tom Paine wrote the "Declaration of Independence," not Jefferson.

FJ: I think you'd like Marat/Sade.

Politiques: Do what you can.

I didn't know Tom Paine and Adam Smith crossed paths. People with a static view of history, don't realize Smith's ideas were progressive in his time.

sonia said...


Can you support the contention that all revolutions are evil? I have a bias toward those that are natural responses to tyranny and based on right thinking leading to increased personal liberty.,

Revolutions aren't responses to tyranny. They are creators of tyranny. No revolution, even the American one, has ever led to "increased personal liberty".

Before the American revolution, say in 1770, black people were treated the same way in Canada and in Georgia, British colonies both.

Fast forward 70 years. In 1840, following the American revolution, for a black man, there was more personal liberty in "colonized" Canada than in "revolutionary" Georgia. Same thing even 110 years later, in 1950.

So yes, I can support the contention that all revolutions are evil. Even the American revolution, the least evil of all revolutions, had only negative effects on freedom.

steven rix said...

At Ren: yes Adam Smith and Thomas Paine were even very good friends, Thomas Paine was 14 years older than Smith. There are lots of unknown stuffs I'm pretty sure. Benjamin Franklin for example had a mistress in France :)
Thomas Paine articles on atheism were inspired by Holbach. Holbach was a german guy living in France; he was heavily criticized by Voltaire because his writings were not perfect (French are elitist bitches).

Hmmm I'm going back to work tonite, they woke me up so that I can go sign the papers. Payrate starts at $30 an hour, pretty bad in fact but I can't bitch, we are in a recession right now.

PS: I have some houses in Florida for sale, prices are around 350K, and I start them at 75K cash.

SecondComingOfBast said...

Oh, Sonia, shit, give it up. On the one hand you applaud when the US overthrows Saddam Hussein, and have on many occasions expressed the desire that the US, or failing them, somebody else, overthrow all tyrants the world over.

So, that is all good as far as you're concerned, but if somehow the Iraqi people themselves had rebelled against Saddam Hussein-had formed a revolution against him, in other words-that would be "evil".

Do you even know what you believe in? Well, wait now, maybe the United States should go in and invade Zimbabwe and Venezuela, and let's not forget Iran, and overthrow all those dictatorial regimes. We'd better hurry, because otherwise the people in those countries might get fed up and conduct an "evil" revolution.

Jesus Fucking Christ, woman!

Getting back on topic, I want to say something about Washington and Paine. I personally think it's unlikely that Washington could have done anything for Paine, even if he wanted to (which he well might not have wanted to), for the simple reason Washington was no friend of the French Revolutionaries.

He hated Genet with a purple passion, and absolutely refused to become involved in the on-going disputes between France and Britain. His international policy was one of neutrality. He did not want America embroiled in foreign disputes of any stripe. Yet, he personally favored the British, ironically enough.

All of this earned him the ire of the French. Personally, I think this was the actual starting point of our long-standing misunderstandings with that nation.

At any rate, the French were embittered over Washington's position, and if the truth were known hated him anyway because of his perceived closeness to the French monarchy they had just violently overthrown. They had no love for Washington and were not inclined to do him any favors.

Seen in this context, Washington staying out of the picture might have actually saved Paine's life. I personally think the fairy tale about the door marked on the wrong side is dubious at best.

Foxessa said...

Pagan Temple -- Thanks for bringing up that aspect of Washington and the Revolution. Washington was certainly no friend of the French Revolution, and he never ever trusted the French, despite his authentic love for Lafayette and understanding that the North American colonies could never have won a military independence from Britian without the enormous assistance of France. Shoot, he didn't have the training in siege tactics or the training or the tools to manufacture siege engines at Yorktown. Without the French navy coming in with both siege training and equipment, and the navy bottling up the British army, Yorktown would never have surrendered to Washington. Washington knew that and acknowledged that for the rest of his life.

However, he still didn't trust the French, and he certainly did not trust the French Revolution. He, with Adams, always looked post the Revolution to mending ties, political and economic with Britain, "Our relatives."

It was Jefferson who loved the French and the French Revolution, one of the many divisions between Adams and Jefferson.

Love, C.

Craig Bardo said...

C'mon Sonia,

That was weak. Slaves had no rights here. Slavery was abolished in the BE before it was in America. It took more time, but black folk are much better off and more numerous here than in Canada, so, it's also not an apples to apples comparison.

What was put in place at the American revolution has benefitted us all, but not just us, the rest of the world. The property rights put in place here have been responsible for more political and personal freedom than anywhere else in the world. It has also been responsible for more prosperity than anywhere in the world. We have also been the guarantor of more political liberty for more people in the world, especially for those behind the former Iron Curtain.

In many respects, the American Revolution, unlike the French Revolution or the Bolshevik Revolution has led to the freedom of billions of people throughout the world.

Foxessa said...

One of my favorite Napoleon quotes is, "They thought I'd be another Washington."

Napoleon was deeply aware of Washington, though not the other way around.

Washington died December 14, 1799. He hadn't even been retired two years from public life when he died.

Napoleon carried out his Paris coup on 9th November 1799, which was his launch platform to becoming a name known to the world., though France had been at war with Britain since 1793.

Love, C.

steven rix said...

In many respects, the American Revolution, unlike the French Revolution or the Bolshevik Revolution has led to the freedom of billions of people throughout the world
I won't back you up on this one because the French Revolution led to revolutions in the Americas (Haiti for example). I'm also sick of hearing that the "american revolution" inspired people all over the world, it's a not an entire true statement. I think that the american revolution reviewed in the XXIst century under Bush presidency is an illusion on american ideals. It's easy to wind up masses on ideals, but the reality, when we look at the global scene, seems to be a total different world.
Never say to a french guy that their revolution was not right. There are arguments that we can defend and annihilate on both sides. For example french people say that there is no revolution when no blood is spilled.
You may open a can of worm talking this way :)
Things were pretty much violent during the revolution in France (we killed Bishops, Clergy, aristocrats...etc). Revolutions were violent in France, but other than that we are pretty much peaceful if we look at the criminal rate between France and the USA.

Looking at the things today, it seems like after the french revolution, there was more freedom of speech and freedom of press than there is in today's France under Nicolas Sarkozy.
We got 2 revolutions in France (1789 and 1968) followed by little incidents, and I firmly believe there will be a 3rd revolution coming soon in the hexagonal country (France). It's our right, unalienable right, in accordance with the french constitution (needless to say that the french constitution is the inspiration of the american constitution from the Founding Fathers ie Jefferson).

roman said...


Never say to a french guy that their revolution was not right.

I would guess that it is accepted by most of us that the French and American revolutions both had "noble" and "right" goals and aims. The usual problem with most revolutions is that when they are successful in removing the oppressive regime, there is always a resulting law and order vacuum. The interim chaos created by these violent changes gives birth to unforseen events that tend to spiral out of control. The Reign of Terror initiated by the radical Jacobins is a classic example of such unforseen circumstances. Another, less obvious example would be the Bolshevik Revolution. The events that removed the Czarist regime soon spiraled out of control and chaos unfolded over a longer duration in time and negatively affected a much greater number of people.

steven rix said...

In a revolution, we never know if it's the revolution that leads people, or if these are people that lead the revolution.

Craig Bardo said...

I did not mean to suggest that inspiration was the benefit of the American Revolution, although, at some level, it had to inspire. My point is that the correctness of the principles upon which the Revolution was based, directly contributed to more freedom than had been seen to that point or since.

What would Europe look like?

I only wish we'd been more influential in Africa and Asia, but it's not too late.

steven rix said...

I think it was a quotation from De Maistre, a guy who was against the French Revolution. The Counter-revolutionnary movement was also a movement against the Enlightment period.
There is no perfect revolution in any way.

PS: are you a fan of Tintin from RG (Remi Georges)? I don't remember, maar heb je van de Nederlands oder Belgie?

steven rix said...

It's a good time to review these european and american authors during the revolutionnary period.

About Joseph de Maistre: (taken from wikipedia)

Joseph-Marie, Comte de Maistre (April 1, 1753- February 26, 1821) was a French-speaking Savoyard lawyer, diplomat, writer, and philosopher. He was one of the most influential spokesmen for a counter-revolutionary and authoritarian conservatism in the period immediately following the French Revolution of 1789. Despite his close personal and intellectual ties to France, de Maistre remained throughout his life a subject of the King of Sardinia, whom he served as member of the Savoy Senate (1787-1792), ambassador to Russia (1803-1817), and minister of state to the court in Turin (1817-1821).

De Maistre argued for the restoration of hereditary monarchy, which he regarded as a divinely sanctioned institution, and for the indirect authority of the Pope over temporal matters. According to de Maistre, only governments founded on the Christian constitution, implicit in the customs and institutions of all European societies but especially in that of Catholic European monarchies, could avoid the disorder and bloodletting that followed the implementation of rationalist political programs, such as that of the 1789 revolution. An enthusiastic believer in the principle of established authority, which the Revolution sought to destroy, de Maistre defended it everywhere: in the State by extolling the monarchy, in the Church by exalting the privileges of the papacy, and in the world by glorifying God's providence.
De Maistre was born at Chambéry, in the Duchy of Savoy, which at the time belonged to the Kingdom of Sardinia. His family was of French origin and had settled in Savoy a century earlier, eventually attaining a high position and aristocratic rank. His father had served as president of the Savoy Senate and his younger brother, Xavier de Maistre, would later become a military officer and a popular writer of fiction.

Joseph was probably educated by the Jesuits.[1] After the Revolution, he became an ardent defender of their Order as he came increasingly to associate the spirit of the Revolution with the spirit of the Jesuits' traditional enemies, the Jansenists. After completing his training in the law at the University of Turin in 1774, he followed in his father's footsteps by becoming a Senator in 1787.

Response to the French Revolution
De Maistre, a member of the progressive Scottish Rite Masonic lodge at Chambéry from 1774 to 1790, was initially sympathetic to reform movements in France and supported the efforts of the magistrates in the Parlements to force King Louis XVI to call the States-General. As a landowner in France, de Maistre might have been eligible to join that body, and there is some evidence that he contemplated that possibility.[2] He was alarmed, however, by the decision of the States-General to join the three orders of clergy, aristocracy, and commoners into the single legislative body that became the National Constituent Assembly, and he turned strongly against the course of events in France after the revolutionary legislation of August 4, 1789 was passed (see August Decrees).

De Maistre was the only native Senator who fled Savoy after a French revolutionary army invaded the region in 1792. He briefly returned to Chambéry the following year but eventually decided that he could not support the French-controlled regime and departed for Switzerland, where he visited the salon of Germaine de Staël and discussed politics and theology with her. De Maistre then began his career as a counterrevolutionary writer with works such as Lettres d'un royaliste savoisien ("Letters from a Savoyard Royalist," 1793), Discours à Mme. la marquise Costa de Beauregard, sur la vie et la mort de son fils ("Discourse to the Marchioness Costa de Beauregard, on the Life and Death of her Son," 1794) and Cinq paradoxes à la Marquise de Nav... ("Five Paradoxes for the Marchioness of Nav...," 1795).

In Considerations sur la France ("Considerations on France," 1796), [3] he maintained that France had a divine mission as the principal instrument of good and of evil on earth. De Maistre considered the Revolution of 1789 as a Providential occurrence: the monarchy, the aristocracy, and the whole of the old French society, instead of using the powerful influence of French civilization to benefit mankind, had instead promoted the destructive atheistic doctrines of the eighteenth-century philosophers. The crimes of the Reign of Terror were at once the apotheosis and logical consequence of the destructive spirit of the eighteenth century, as well as the divinely decreed punishment for it.

In 1803 de Maistre was appointed as the King of Sardinia's diplomatic envoy to the court of Russia's Tsar, Alexander I in Saint Petersburg. From 1817 until his death, he served in Turin as a magistrate and minister of state for the Kingdom of Sardinia.

[edit] Political and moral philosophy
His little book Essai sur le principe générateur des constitutions politiques et des autres institutions humaines ("Essay on the Generative Principle of Political Constitutions and other Human Institutions," 1809),[4] centers on the idea that constitutions are not the artificial products of study but come in due time and under suitable circumstances from God, who slowly brings them to maturity in silence. After the appearance in 1816 of his French translation of Plutarch's treatise On the Delay of Divine Justice in the Punishment of the Guilty, de Maistre published in 1819 his masterpiece Du Pape ("On the Pope"). The work is divided into four parts. In the first he argues that, in the Church, the pope is sovereign, and that it is an essential characteristic of all sovereign power that its decisions should be subject to no appeal. Consequently, the pope is infallible in his teaching, since it is by his teaching that he exercises his sovereignty. In the remaining divisions the author examines the relations of the pope and the temporal powers, civilization and the welfare of nations, and the schismatic Churches. He argues that nations require protection against abuses of power by a sovereignty superior to all others, and that this sovereignty should be that of the papacy, the historical saviour and maker of European civilization. As to the schismatic Churches, de Maistre believed that they would, with time, return to the arms of the papacy because "no religion can resist science, except one."

Besides a voluminous correspondence, de Maistre left two posthumous works. One of these, L'examen de la philosophie de Bacon, ("An Examination of the Philosophy of Bacon," 1836), develops a spiritualist epistemology out of a critique of Francis Bacon, whom de Maistre considers as a fountainhead of the Enlightenment in its most destructive form. The Soirées de St. Pétersbourg ("The Saint Petersburg Dialogues", 1821) [5] is a theodicy in the form of a Platonic dialogue, where de Maistre proposes his own solution to the age-old problem of the existence of evil. For him, the existence of evil throws light on the designs of God; for the moral world and the physical world are interrelated. Physical evil is the necessary corollary of moral evil, which humanity expiates and minimizes through prayer and sacrifice. The shedding of blood, the expiation of the sins of the guilty by the innocent is for de Maistre a law as mysterious as it is indubitable, the principle that propels humanity in its return to God and the explanation for the existence and the perpetuity of war.

De Maistre can be counted, with the Anglo-Irish statesman Edmund Burke, as one of the fathers of European conservatism. Since the 19th century, however, the providentialist, authoritarian, "throne and altar" strand of conservatism that he represented has greatly declined in political influence when compared to the more pragmatic and adaptable conservatism of Burke. De Maistre's stylistic and rhetorical brilliance, on the other hand, have made him enduringly popular as a writer and controversialist. The Catholic Encyclopedia of 1910 describes de Maistre's style as "strong, lively, picturesque," and adds, "animation and good humour temper his dogmatic tone. He possesses a wonderful facility in exposition, precision of doctrine, breadth of learning, and dialectical power." The great liberal poet Alphonse de Lamartine, though a political enemy, could not but admire the lively splendour of de Maistre's prose:

That brief, nervous, lucid style, stripped of phrases, robust of limb, did not at all recall the softness of the eighteenth century, nor the declamations of the latest French books: it was born and steeped in the breath of the Alps; it was virgin, it was young, it was harsh and savage; it had no human respect, it felt its solitude; it improvised depth and form all at once… That man was new among the enfants du siècle.
De Maistre's attacks on Enlightenment thought have long made him an attractive countercultural figure in certain circles. For example, the Decadent poet Charles Baudelaire claimed that de Maistre had taught him "how to think" and declared himself a disciple of the Savoyard counterrevolutionary.

His influence is controversial among American conservatives. Contemporary conservative commentator Pat Buchanan praises de Maistre, calling him a "great conservative" in his 2006 book State of Emergency. Along with paleoconservative theorist Samuel Francis, Buchanan considers de Maistre an early intellectual precursor on issues of nationalism and universalism[6]. When neoconservative writer Jonah Goldberg attacked de Maistre in one column for disagreeing with the notion that "humanity is universal" and for suggesting that "transcending one's particular identity was impossible,"[7] Paul Gottfried questioned Goldberg's credentials as a conservative and his knowledge of de Maistre. Gottfried considers Joseph de Maistre a "formidable literary and intellectual figure" and calls Goldberg's attempt to link him to modern day African-American identity politics "thoroughly dishonest and/or abysmally stupid."[8] Gottfried also writes:

What Goldberg is really pushing is a form of leftist imperialism reaching back to Robespierre and Jacobin France. Goldberg has dusted off the platform of the French revolutionary Left and misnamed it conservatism, while taking a once renowned conservative, Maistre, and assigning him to a neocon version of eternal perdition. It might be properly asked why anyone would mistake the bearers of this view for certified conservatives.[9]

steven rix said...

What would Europe look like? What do you mean? Whether the Americans had not saved us from the nazi Germany? There were many nations fighting during WW2. There was not only the Americans, although they were there, and I thank them for that, but there was also Russia that helped us fighting the Nazis on different fronts as bad as Normandy, otherwise WW2 would have never been won, and we would all be speaking German right now or perhaps Hitler would have destroyed us with atomic bombs. In Nazi Germany, nobody really cared if their government was doing something good or wrong, the problem comes from the fact that they felt they were inspired by social darwinism and Heidegger's philosophy. Until this day, lots of Germans are still mad that nobody in their country did anything against the nazi government. I'm kind disappointed in this sense that the actual methods in nazi psychological welfare are still used in the USA against its population. After all, Hitler's scientists were brought back to the US to improve their persuasion tools.

My father in law is a WW2 veteran. When he was in France, he made sure to pass on his genes on a french woman :)

PS: I'm not mad at you ;)

steven rix said...

@ CB: and to top it off, all my in laws come from the military class and they are all republicans LOL. I'm the only one who refuse to accept these kind of values. One of my brother in laws, has been to war since Kosovo, then went to Afghanistan, then to Iraq, and he'll be going on a 3rd tour in Iraq within a few months. I just want him to come back in 1 piece.

roman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Foxessa said...

politiques -- Simon Bolivar was deeply affected by the American Revolution. George Washington was his hero-inspiration. Bolivar deliberately modeled himself and his objectives upon Washington and the ideals, as he saw them, of the former colonies becoming a united nation.

Love, C.

roman said...


Belgie..Sorry, most of my Flemish and French has long been forgotten since departing Waterschei for Liege (parles vous Francais?) and then the USA but my fond memories of Tin-tin and Snowy's adventures has remained intact. One has to focus on the important things in life. Tin-tin and Snowy RULE!:-))

sonia said...


you applaud when the US overthrows Saddam Hussein, and have on many occasions expressed the desire that the US, or failing them, somebody else, overthrow all tyrants the world over.

So, that is all good as far as you're concerned, but if somehow the Iraqi people themselves had rebelled against Saddam Hussein-had formed a revolution against him, in other words-that would be "evil".

Do you even know what you believe in?

Yes, I do. I believe that if "Iraqi people" rebelled against Saddam by themselves, those rebels would inevitably establish a regime even more repressive and totalitarian than Saddam's.

There is saying: "when you're in a deep hole, STOP DIGGING!". When people rebel against tyranny, they only dig a deeper hole...


It took more time, but black folk are much better off and more numerous here than in Canada

More numerous certainly, but "better off" ? Are you kidding? Check the statistics on black people in Canada. They are much better off then their US brothers. It's only compared to Africa that US blacks are "better off"....

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