Saturday, April 5, 2014

Thomas Paine -- sowing the world with mischief

"The time, sir, will come when you, in a melancholy hour, shall reckon up your miseries by your murders in America. Life, with you, begins to wear a clouded aspect. The vision of pleasurable delusion is wearing away, and changing to the barren wild of age and sorrow.
The poor reflection of having served your king will yield you no consolation in your parting moments. He will crumble to the same undistinguished ashes with yourself, and have sins enough of his own to answer for.
It is not the farcical benedictions of a bishop, nor the cringing hypocrisy of a court of chaplains, nor the formality of an act of Parliament, that can change guilt into innocence, or make the punishment one pang the less. You may, perhaps, be unwilling to be serious, but this destruction of the goods of Providence, this havoc of the human race, and this sowing the world with mischief, must be accounted for to him who made and governs it. To us they are only present sufferings, but to him they are deep rebellions."
Thomas Paine, The American Crisis V

Saturday, March 1, 2014

All the knowledge man has ... Thomas Paine.

"All the knowledge man has of science and of machinery, by the aid of which his existence is rendered comfortable upon earth, and without which he would be scarcely distinguishable in appearance and condition from a common animal, comes from the great machine and structure of the universe. The constant and unwearied observations of our ancestors upon the movements and revolutions of the heavenly bodies, in what are supposed to have been the early ages of the world, have brought this knowledge upon earth. It is not Moses and the prophets, nor Jesus Christ, nor his apostles, that have done it. The Almighty is the great mechanic of the creation; the first philosopher and original teacher of all science. Let us, then, learn to reverence our master, and let us not forget the labors of our ancestors."

Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Quote check ..."the belief in a cruel god makes a cruel man."

This quotation has proliferated widely on the internet and though it seemed at first a bit suspect, it turns out to accurate. The full quotation and citation are as follows:

“It is from the Bible that man has learned cruelty, rapine, and murder; for the belief of a cruel God makes a cruel man.”
     Thomas Paine -- "A letter: being an answer to a friend, on the publication of The age of reason." Paris; May 12, 1797.

This letter was originally printed in The Prospect, Or View of the Moral World, published by the blind deist lecturer Elihu Palmer. Insofar as I can tell, the recipient is unknown.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Blogfodder -- scrap the whole government


Nope .. cannot agree. The American republic -- always far from perfect but nevertheless an ever-changing republican experiment -- has been hijacked. By whom? That should be obvious -- the great military, industrial, financial, corporate complex. Money is power because we have made it so. By the way, this is not new. The revolution of "We the People" and "We hold these truths to be self-evident" was hijacked at the 1789 Constitutional Convention and we the people have been in a constant struggle ever since. It took until 1842 to secure universal WHITE MANhood suffrage -- 1922 for the female vote -- 1960s to enfranchise blacks and others. Two centuries of struggle and progress hang now in the balance. What we want is to SECURE our republic and certainly neither in control of the oligarchs (what we have now) nor that of the advocates of puerile flavor-of-the-month political solutions whether identified as anarchism or libertarianism.

Government is not the enemy; the FINANCIAL system is the enemy -- and they own our (and your) government .. and you. Less regulation isn't the answer -- it's what got into this mess. Take control of the government and move it forward. The time is always now.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Thomas Paine: American, Brit, citizen of France ... or CITIZEN OF THE WORLD?

(Submitted by RB)

This is one of the perennial questions that
arise in Thomas Paine studies.

Certainly not French as Elisha Ward alleged in the 1806 Board of Review decision that denied Paine's citizenship and right to vote in New Rochelle. After all George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson are but a few of the many who would be French citizens and ineligible for office or honors by the same evidence ie. honorary French citizenship bestowed by the revolutionary French Assembly.

Paine doubtless repudiated King George and English citizenship when he was sworn into General Daniel Roberdeau's "Flying Camp" and later served as aide-de-camp for General Nathaniel Greene in the Continental Army. The British crown put a price on Paine's head and would have hung him if it could. 

Elisha Ward tipped his hand when he replied "Our minister at Paris, Gouverneur Morris, would not reclaim you as an American citizen when you were imprisoned in the Luxembourg at Paris, and General Washington refused to do it." First consider the implications for Paine's Letter to George Washington. At the very least it lends weight to Paine's allegation that Washington and Morris conspired in his imprisonment and that this was recognized and bragged about in Federalist circles. More importantly, though, it ignores the events that transpired after the plotting Morris fled France and James Monroe arrived as the new Minister Plenipotentiary. Paine himself documented the correspondence between James Monroe and the Secretary of State Edmund Randolph that confirmed his citizenship and the lawfulness of his reclamation from Luxembourg Prison by later president James Monroe. The Federalist board ignored the evidence and ruled against Paine.
Paine was deeply stung and angered -- and eventually vindicated. 139 years later, the municipality retroactively granted Paine "full citizenship and the rights thereof."

Paine certainly belongs to all the world and called himself, as did many, a citizen of the world. And more than that, Paine saw his own thought as universal in scope, based upon reason, nature, the universe.

But Paine claimed American citizenship and Americans should claim him, too.

"Our citizenship in the United States is our national character. Our citizenship in any particular state is only our local distinction. By the latter we are known at home, by the former to the world. Our great title is AMERICANS — our inferior one varies with the place."

The American Crisis: Philadelphia, April 19, 1783

Our citizenship in the United States is our national character. Our citizenship in any particular state is only our local distinction. By the latter we are known at home, by the former to the world. Our great title is AMERICANS -- our inferior one varies with the place.   - See more at:
Our citizenship in the United States is our national character. Our citizenship in any particular state is only our local distinction. By the latter we are known at home, by the former to the world. Our great title is AMERICANS -- our inferior one varies with the place.   - See more at:

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

RIP Bonnie Lange

As mentioned in the previous post on "Thomas Paine's opera glasses," Bonnie Lange has shed her mortal coil and departed earthly life. She was the last publisher/editor of The TruthSeeker journal ... by some estimations the longest continuously published freethought publication in US history. The TS was a great paper in its heyday prior to the 1920s and the original publishers -- D.M. Bennett and the Macdonald brothers -- did more for Thomas Paine's memory and record than anyone in their period. Bennett acquired the seed-library of his project from Gilbert Vale, the subject of this writer's dissertation and guiding personality in the erection of the Thomas Paine monument in New Rochelle, NY. Rod Bradford, btw, has written a worthwhile biography of Bennett to which the author of this blog is proud to have contributed. Here are the data on Rod's book:

Bradford, Roderick
D. M. Bennett: The Truth Seeker
  • Hardcover: 412 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (October 11, 2006)
  • ISBN-10: 1591024307
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591024309
All that aside, the legacy of Bonnie Lange is mixed. The TS had already been stained by the militant atheism of one publisher (Charles Lee Smith, 1937-1954) and the pro-Hitler, anti-semitic rantings of another (Bonnie was protegĂ© and "girl-friday" of the latter, James Hervey Johnson, 1954-1988). Bonnie took the TS even further afield from its original mission by the admixture of a succession of conspiracy/illuminist theorists including Zacharia Sitchin, David Ickes and Jon Rapoport.  Bonnie and I remained friends until her death -- a miracle, since, as I often reminded her, there is indeed a fine line between having an open mind and a hole in one's head.

Perhaps the TS will be reborn and return to something reflecting its early integrity and quality -- it was a FINE periodical in its glory-period and counted Mark Twain, Margaret Sanger, Clarance Darrow, Robert G. Ingersoll and many other progressive crusaders among its subscribers or contributors. Certainly there is no better person alive to carry out that goal than Rod Bradford, but if it sinks into the historical record, then RIP Bonnie and the TS.

Addendum: the TS website at contains no mention of Bonnie's death nor obituary. How sad.