*Thomas Paine, patriot, agitator, dreamer.
Thomas Paine was arguably the most prominent voice speaking out against the British in our colonial times. He was the backbone of the “no taxation without representation” principle, he wrote articles for the Pennsylvania Magazine for years in protest to our foreign monarchial dictators, and he published Common Sense just six months before helping pen the Declaration of Indepedence.
A lifelong agitator and fighter for all things right, Paine moved onto the French Revolution, once his work in America had resulted in its independence. There he wrote The Rights of Man, again attacking Britain’s tight-fisted, imperialistic rule of the world. It was the best selling publication of the 18th century.
After being imprisoned in France for a few years because of his ousting of King Louis XVI at the National Convention, Paine made what he thought would be his glorious return to America . . . the nation that had Paine to thank for essentially becoming the voice of rebellion and independence.
But this was not to be. It was 1802 and America was now in a time of peace and did not need any rebel-rousers to stir up another conflict. President John Adams, feeling no remorse, touted Paine as “that insolent Blasphemer of things sacred and transcendent, Libeler of all that is good.” Things got downright mean when Adams went on to say that Paine was a “mongrel between a pig and a puppy, begotten by a wild boar on a bitch wolf.”
After turning to the drink, it didnt’ take long for Thomas Paine to die penniless in New York City in 1809, with his obituary reading, “He had lived long, did some good and much harm.”
Poor guy. I guess there’s not a place in the world for someone who continuously wants to better things. Once people reach a state of “good enough”, they don’t need any trouble-makers to put that “good enough” in jeopardy. Too bad, Thomas Paine had a lot to offer.
Here is one quote from Paine, that I think echoes his legacy:
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 . . . When these things can be said, then may that country boast its constitution and its government.
*Much of this information is from The Bathroom Reader, Plunges Into History. The Bathroom Reader books are a great source of information and awesome reading material, especially for those like myself who do a substantial percentage of their reading on the toilet.