Who was Thomas Paine?
There are statues of him in Paris and New Jersey and a monument to him in New York - though we still haven't reached a situation where, as French leader Napoleon Bonaparte said: "A statue of gold should be erected to him in every city in the universe."
Yet no high-level commemorations of his death have been planned. His writings rarely appear on the national curriculum in the UK. And ask a man or woman in the average British street who he is, and they are likely to reply "Er…"
Paine worked in various positions in America's early revolutionary government. But he was never accepted as one of the founding fathers largely because his restless spirit and appetite for revolution led him to another mass revolt, this time in France.
Katherine Mangu-Ward, associate editor of the right-leaning, Washington-based magazine Reason, says Paine is enjoying a comeback amongst both left-wing and right-wing American thinkers.
Cheryl Hudson of Oxford University says Paine, the history-shaping Brit, should be taught more widely in British schools: "At the centre of his thought was a profound trust in the people and in their 'common sense'. He encouraged the public's aspirations for a better, more democratic world and he expressed his support in a rigorous and robust vernacular style.
comments powered by Disqus
- Shipwreck Found Under World Trade Center Traced Back To Colonial Era Philadelphia
- Bob Dallek in the NYT gives a rave review of John Dean's history of Watergate cover-up
- Ex-President George W. Bush Authors Book About His Father
- Tears, and Anger, as Militants Destroy Iraq City’s Relics
- Europe notes 100th anniversary of World War I
- Robert Drew, Cinema Verite Documentarian, Dies at 90
- Rick Perlstein: “Ronald Reagan absolved America almost in a priestly role not to have to contend with sin. The consequences are all around us today”
- History wars are raging in East Asia
- Round 2: It's Benny Morris vs. Martin Kramer ... Was there a massacre in 1948 in Lydda?
- World War I Anniversary: Five Historians, Two Questions