Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Thomas Paine -- a world overrun with fables and creeds.

"The world has been over run with fable and creeds of human invention." Thomas Paine to Samuel Adams, 1803.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Thomas Paine -- the social nature of mankind.

"Man, were he not corrupted by governments, is naturally the friend of man." Thomas Paine, Rights of Man II, 1792.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sale price -- Thomas Paine to John Hustler, 12 July 1789

The above referenced letter sold at Sothebys for 10,000 GBP -- that's $16,132.97 USD at today's exchange.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Thomas Paine -- flattery v. service to mankind.

"It is not my custom to flatter, but to serve mankind." Thomas Paine, Common Sense on Financing the War, 1782.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

New Paine letter? Thomas Paine to John Hustler, 12 July 1789

There is a letter from Thomas Paine to John Hustler, 12 July 1789
going to auction this Thursday, 17 December 2009, at Sothebys in
London, U.K. Click on the link below and wait a bit -- it takes a
while to load and then look at the fourth lot counted from the
upper left.


The only mention I can find in the standard literature on Paine
is in Keane at p.587 and it appears, moreover, that this letter is
not included in any of the standard Paine collections. Your
comments solicited. Another big thanks to the ever alert Alaine Lowell
for spotting and sharing this.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Thomas Paine -- Reason and Prejudice

"Reason, like time, will make its own way, and prejudice will fall in a combat with interest." Thomas Paine, Rights of Man II, 1792.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Guardian - Thomas Paine Papers Discovered

Spotted and forwarded, with our thanks, by Alaine Lowell of the Thomas Paine Society, Pasadena, CA:


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thomas Paine on despotism.

"The preclusion of consent is despotism." Thomas Paine, Dissertation on First Principles of Government, 1795.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Thomas Paine on morality.

"As for morality, the knowledge of it exists in every man's conscience." Thomas Paine, Age of Reason, pt. 1, 1794.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thomas Paine, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck and the history-impaired Right

Historian Harvey J. Kaye sets them straight:


Monday, November 16, 2009

Thomas Paine on America

"The cause of America is, in great measure, the cause of all mankind." Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Thomas Paine on calumny.

"Calumny becomes harmless and defeats itself when it attempts to act upon too large a scale." Thomas Paine - Letter to Citizen Danton, May 6, 1793.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Newt Gingrich and Thomas Paine -- go figure.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Thomas Paine on mankind.

"Man, were he not corrupted by governments, is naturally the friend of man." Rights of Man II, 1792.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Glenn Beck no Thomas Paine, no no no ...


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thomas Paine in Manchester, UK.


Monday, October 12, 2009

Thomas Paine in music and dance.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Thomas Paine on suspicion

"Suspicion is the companion of mean souls and the bane of all good society." Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Thomas Paine on slavery.

"Slavery consists in being subject to the will of another." Thomas Paine, Dissertation on First Principles of Government, 1795.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Edissa Weeks on Thomas Paine

Be sure to scroll down to her comments on Paine:


Thomas Paine on Liberty.

paineite1 "Liberty cannot be purchased with a wish." Thomas Paine, Letter to the People of France, 1792.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thomas Paine on Fact.

"Let our opinions be what they will, truth as to facts should be strictly adhered to." Thomas Paine, The Forrester's Letters, 1776.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Thomas Paine on Truth.

"Truth, in every case, is the most reputable victory a man can gain." Thomas Paine, Pennsylvania Packet, 16 February 1779.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Thomas Paine on usurpation.

"Usurpation cannot alter the right of things." Thomas Paine, Rights of Man I, 1791.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Thomas Paine on suspicion

"Suspicion is the companion of mean souls, and the bane of all good society." Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776.

Friday, September 4, 2009

de Tocqueville on American vanity.

"A stranger who injures American vanity, no matter how justly, may make up his mind to be a martyr."
-- Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, 1835.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Thomas Paine on death: In memorium -- Roger Bishop

"However men may differ in their ideas of grandeur or of government here, the grave is nevertheless a perfect republic." Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, 1778.

Friday, August 28, 2009

"An association of vices will reduce us more than the sword." Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, 1780.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Dr. Vikki Vikkers on Thomas Paine

Interview with Dr. Vikki J. Vikkers of Weber State University on Thomas Paine and the exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery -- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204908604574336833608893484.html

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Thomas Paine on Nonsense.

"Nonsense ought to be treated as nonsense wherever it is found." Thomas Paine, Predestination, 1806.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Thomas Paine on empire.

"All countries have sooner or later been called to their reckoning; the proudest empires have sunk when the balance was struck." Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, 1777.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Thomas Paine on revolution

"Revolutions have for their object, a change in the moral condition of governments." Thomas Paine - Rights of Man II, 1792.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Thomas Paine on Elections

"To elect and reject, is the perogative of a free people." Thomas Paine - To the Citizens of the United States, 1802.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Thomas Paine -- One Life

National Portrait Gallery Opens -- One Life: Thomas Paine, the Radical Founding Father http://www.artdaily.org/index.asp?int_sec=2&int_new=32554

Thursday, July 30, 2009

One Life: Thomas Paine, The Radical Founding Father

One Life: Thomas Paine, The Radical Founding Father at the National Portrait Gallery, full details at http://www.npg.si.edu/exhibit/expaine.html

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Thomas Paine on morality.

"As for morality, the knowledge of it exists in every man's conscience." Thomas Paine - Age of Reason, II, 1795.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Glenn Beck - No Thomas Paine - No Common Sense

Glenn Beck's book is an unhistorical, incoherent and shallow rip-off of Thomas Paine and the high name-recognition of Paine's Common Sense (1776). Readers looking either for history or Thomas Paine will be sadly disappointed. Beck appears to have either never read Paine or, if he has, never thought about him. In fact, the greater question posed by the book is whether Beck has any cogitative ability whatsoever. Certainly, the book is mind-numbingly incoherent and rambling.

A few observations from the historian's viewpoint:

The oh-so brilliant point of Beck's 9.12 Project is to encourage people to return to the atmosphere of fear, panic and rage of 9/11. Just what we need, more unhinged.

Paine was a revolutionary reformer and progressive. Beck aspires to being a reactionary populist. There's a difference, people.

Most of Beck's text is a hackneyed and inaccurate appeal to the halcyon past (which exact period he does not name) and a prototypical diatribe against government intrusion without specifics or -- perish the thought -- specific solutions:

Glenn Beck, Libertarian, believes we need to get government "off our backs" and out of EVERYTHING, especially business. Go Glenn! Let's see ... well then we must suppose that he's "good" with the industrial solvent melamine in baby's food. Your kid lost their kidneys as a result? Pay for it yourself! And evidently Beck wants to return to the "good old days" of child labor. Ok and yeah, less regulation would been the solution to the current financial crash. Hell yes, more derivatives and less regulation, That's the solution! Exposure to Beck's economic blather -- it's not coherent enough to call it a critique -- is not worth the lost brain cells that will definitely slough from your cranium.

Beck's appeal to the halcyon days of yore is similarly historically challenged (can we still say "retarded" in this context?). For Beck, the Mexican American War of 1848 never happened; neither apparently did Jim Crow, the Spanish-American War, the extermination of Native American peoples, slavery, the Red Scare or the McCarthy hearings. The man is a historical dead-zone. Does he not know that at the time of the founding of the U.S., something less than less than 18% of white males could vote? We didn't even get universal white male suffrage until after 1842. Women struggled for 150 years before finally getting the vote in 1922 and blacks were brutalized and effectively disenfranchised until 1965, for Pete's sake. The good old days of when, exactly?

Inspired by Thomas Paine? It's a good thing that Paine's remains were long ago stolen from their grave from which they would otherwise now erupt and revolve. Don't purchase this book. I bought mine used for a fraction of it's cover price and it was STILL a waste of money.

Thomas Paine on wealth and poverty

Kenneth Burchell "Wealth is often the presumptive evidence of dishonesty; and poverty the negative evidence of innocence." Thomas Paine - Dissertation on First Principles of Government, 1795.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Thomas Paine - Republican virtue.

"When republican virtue fails, slavery ensues." Thomas Paine - Common Sense, 1776.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Thomas Paine on generosity/philanthropy.

"The more we bestow the richer we become." Thomas Paine - The Crisis Extraordinary, 1789.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Thomas Paine on First Principles

"When precedents fail to assist us, we must return to the first principles of things for information; and THINK as if we were the FIRST MEN that THOUGHT" - Thomas Paine, The Forrester Letters, 1776.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Thomas Paine - Call me rebel.

"Let them call me rebel and welcome, I feel no concern from it; but I should suffer the misery of devils, were I to make a whore of my soul ..." -- Thomas Paine, American Crisis I.

Liberty in chains

Detail of a cartoon by nineteenth-century American artist Watson Heston. Note: image is © Kenneth W. Burchell 2009, All Rights Reserved.

Fourth of July -- Thomas Paine on patriotism

"There is not a vice, nor scarcely a virtue, that has not as the fashion of the moment suited been called by the name of patriotism ... But if we give to patriotism a fixed idea consistent with that of a republic, it would signify a strict adherence to the principles of moral justice, to the equality of civil and political rights, to the system of representative government, and an opposition to every hereditary claim to govern; and of this species of patriotism you know my character." Thomas Paine to James Monroe - October 26, 1794.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Thomas Paine - Lewes

Terrific article from the Washington Post on Thomas Paine and Lewes:


Thomas Paine and Bi-polar Disorder

Thomas Paine and Bi-polar Disorder --

"The course of his biography, with its episodes of buoyant enthusiasm and mute withdrawal, as well as eyewitness accounts of his alternately voluble and determinedly silent behavior, imply that Paine may have suffered from a form of bipolar disorder."

Nelson, Craig. Thomas Paine: Enlightenment, Revolution, and the Birth of Modern Nations. NY: Viking, 2006.

Craig Nelson's proposition that Paine "may" have had bi-polar disorder
strikes me as the latest in a long history of strained interpretations starting with the accusation of his impotence by Tory hack-writer George Chalmers aka Francis Oldys and continuing to the present time with the turgid and imaginative screenplay -- admittedly interpretive art, not history -- of Trevor Griffiths. Why strain for an interpretation when, as Paine pointed out, the shortest distance between two points is a straight line?

Some degree of psychological analysis is doubtless appropriate where we have enough information to speculate. Psychohistory has played a part in professional history since the first historian assigned a motive to an historical player. But the behavior that Mr. Nelson identified as bi-polar, it seems to me, has a much simpler and more convincing explanation. Paine was elderly, extremely ill and suffering intense physical pain during the times when he was emotionally "down" or in "mute withdrawal" -- seriously ill and in pain. This has not been enough emphasized in the literature -- partly because Paine did continue to write and frequently quite well despite his illness. Naturally we can't know from this distance with certainty whether he had depressive illness or not, but in my opinion, bi-polar disease is not the straightest line between two points.

Paine never recovered from the illness that befell him during his incarceration. Described as an abcess in the side, he was delirious or unconscious for weeks at a time. In 1797, well after his 1794 release, he relapsed and nearly died while in the care of James Monroe and his wife. Still later, a credible visitor described his still abcessed side, exposed rib and perfect agony. Nerve disease, palsy, and stroke wore away the last ten years of his life until he passed away in 1809. Despite this travail, Paine completed many valuable, piquant and revelatory writings, in particular Agrarian Justice, Dissertation on First Principles of Government, and his eight Letters to the Citizens of the United States. If in some of his later work, the sounds at times impatient, abrupt, cranky or short, then we well know the source and perhaps admire his determination to be of earthly good unto the end of his life.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Thomas Paine Museum: another sleeper awakens

Statement from Mayor Noam Bramson, regarding the Thomas Paine Museum artifacts:

"Generations of New Rochelleans have grown up knowing and caring about Thomas Paine's prominent place in our history. The items and artifacts stored and displayed at the Thomas Paine Museum are much beloved and have helped establish a tangible, physical connection to our past. The relocation of this collection is a tremendous loss to our community, and I am deeply concerned that the process employed to select a permanent site has been flawed, incomplete, and indifferent to the concerns of our residents. In this spirit, I will vigorously support efforts to establish a permanent home and a lending policy that keeps these priceless items as accessible as possible to the people of New Rochelle and our region." – Mayor Noam Bramson

Comment: now go back to sleep, mayor ... damage done: another player a "day late and a dollar short."

Link at:

The Thomas Paine Museum and brave Jim Maisano

Local New Rochelle legislator Jim Maisano has come forward with the ever-so brave and provincial proposition that the holdings of the Thomas Paine Museum remain in Westchester County, preferably New Rochelle:


Talk about "a day late and a dollar short." Always inspiring to see one of our legislators take a stand after years of paying ZERO attention to the museum or the sell-off of its holdings. After decades of neglect by the town of New Rochelle AND Maisano, this guy wants the leftover crumbs to stay in New Rochelle!

Thomas Paine Museum: the saga continues

The story has now been picked up by the local New Rochelle JOURNAL NEWS. Here's the link: http://lohud.com/article/20090701/NEWS02/907010351/1018/NEWS02

The facts speak for themselves: incompetents
sold off the pearls of the museum collection, janitor-
turned-president McCartin flown the coop, remains of the museum
holdings surrendered to the NYHS, McCartin best-buddy Mulkern
(no historical background or museum expertise of any kind) the newly
minted "acting" -- in more ways than one -- executive director of
an association-in-name-only claims to rule over the ruins. "Disgruntled"
doesn't begin to describe my reaction.

The JN reporter was evidently overawed with McCartin-crony
Mulkern's newly minted title and couldn't be bothered to check
and see who constitutes the "TPNHA" and board that Mulkern
claims to represent. Allow me to suggest that the organization
exists in name only -- same as Mulkern's title.

One can only speculate that whatever agreement exists between
the NY AG and the perpetrators of this outrage allowed Mulkern
and company to claim "voluntarism" in exchange for the
removal of McCartin and the holdings.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Thomas Paine Museum in the news again

The Thomas Paine Museum story has now been picked up by respected media-blogger Robert Cox in a report entitled:

EXCLUSIVE: New Rochelle's Thomas Paine Museum Seized by New York State Attorney General and Board of Regents Submitted by Robert Cox on Mon, 06/29/2009 - 17:13.

The link his here: http://www.newrochelletalk.com/node/797
The interview and discussion with Kenneth Burchell on Freedom Rings radio with moderator Kenneth Johns on WRMN 1410 AM, Elgin, Illinois, USA can be accessed at http://www.freedomrings.net/html/archives.htm

Monday, June 22, 2009

The United States of America needs a new political party born of the unfinished business of the American Revolution -- much like Horace Greeley said of the Republican Party when it was created back in the mid 1850s. The Republican Party was originally created to resolve the issue of slavery versus free labor, free land, free speech and free people. The Whig and Democratic Parties failed to resolve the issue and both shattered over internal divisions. The Republican Party that arose in their stead was originally pro-tariff and anti-slavery. The two great American political issues of the Nineteenth Century were slavery and banking. The slavery issue -- at least chattel slavery -- was solved, but the issue of wage-slavery and banking exploitation was never resolved. In fact, I would argue that the bank monopolies prevailed. Study the debates in that surrounded creation of Hamilton's first Bank of the United States. The Congress of the United States farmed out its constitutional currency creating powers to a private banking corporation, setting off a two-hundred year struggle that still threatens to collapse the remains of the republic. Unless we mobilize the citizenry, the international banking/financial interests will extinguish the U. S. before the U. S. can begin to extinguish the banking cartels.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Thomas Paine on human nature

"Human nature is not of itself vicious." Thomas Paine - Rights of Man, II, 1792

Friday, June 19, 2009

Another phony Thomas Paine quote

The following quote is presently proliferating around the web as attributed to Thomas Paine: “A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.” The quote is not Thomas Paine: it's from Edward Abbey.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Bill Moyers followup

FYI, I did in fact post some comments to Moyer's blog re: the mistakes in his intro. My comments to him and one of his readers are both here:


Impoverished Paine - NOT!

On the subject of Paine's supposed impoverishment at death, the administration of his will showed that he was worth conservatively about $8000.00 in currency of the time. In today's dollars that would be worth about $141,000.00. Not bad and not poverty by any stretch.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Bill Moyers on Thomas Paine, Harvey Kaye, and Richard Brookhiser

Finally got a chance to watch the Moyers/Paine broadcast
withKaye and Brookhiser.


The intro by Moyers was marred with the usual "bull"
about Paine dying broke (he was quite well-off) and abandoned
(that's how people died in those days -- there WERE no
hospitals or hospice unless you were Catholic -- and
he wasn't "abandoned" any more than any elderly person
is when they die; we all die alone to some extent). Anyway,
the intro repeated the usual twaddle first grunted out
by Paine's enemies and repeated by every uncritical
commentator and author ever since. Bill, with the distinguished
historians you had there, I really believe you could have done
a better job. DISAPPOINTED!! 8^)

[I suppose I should drop Moyers a friendly email
a chide them a bit]

Brookhiser characterized the Girondin as a "bloody gang,"
repeating the old Anglophile/Francophobe hypocrisy-of-the-
ages ... as if ANY government (ours included) wasn't or
isn't "bloody." What? Burke's treasured British monarchy
wasn't bloody? Bloody hell! And what about Brookhiser's
heros? Bloody every one.

Harvey got his point in about Paine "quickly discovered the
'American spirit' and made it his own," a position that,
while open to careful criticism, is honestly defensible.

Kaye also used the correct response on the LETTER TO
GEORGE WASHINGTON, though with less force that
I would prefer. Washington was idolized when elected
and SCORNED AND HATED by half the populace when
he left office precisely for the reasons that Paine cites:
most notably the 1794 Jay Treaty. We should all memorize
the Antifederalist slogan:

Damn John Jay!
Damn everyone that won't damn John Jay!
Damn every one that won't put lights in his window
and sit up all night damning John Jay!

Washington's conduct
throughout that event was despicable. He was not at all
idolized by all and the virtual deification of Washington
largely occurred after his death. And while there is
no proof he knew Paine was in
prison, there is plenty of reason to think that he did
and no proof he didn't. Morris was Washington's
closest and most trusted friend and adviser and he
can be supposed to have been carrying out a policy
endorsed by Washington, whether Washington had
plausible deniability or not.

The discussion on AGE OF REASON was weak. In
defense of all three participants, however, it is a tricky subject. If AoR
destroyed Paine's reputation, how come it was such a
great best-seller here? It sold like hot-cakes, was almost
universally popular with university students and everybody
read it. Freethinkers of all political persuasions were not
put off. Yes, some Democratic-Republicans were offended,
but the Federalists used it to attack and discredit
Paine and Jefferson's democratic tendencies. Jefferson
was attacked just as hotly for his "infidelism" as Paine
was and, as someone on the panel pointed out, did not
write a best-selling book on the subject. As I wrote in
article in the current issue of FREE INQUIRY, "Paine
was attacked with the cudgel of religion
on account of his political views." That trend continues,

Thomas Paine Museum, New Rochelle: update

Dear Friends, this is a brief report of a conversation
earlier today between myself and the Asst. Attorney
General in charge of the investigation into alleged
malfeasance and sell-off of museum holdings at the
Thomas Paine Museum in New Rochelle, New York.
The call was made in response to several recent
inquiries from visitors to the Paine Museum who
found it closed and had been given various
explanations for its present status.

Most of you will at least know that a number of the
museum's rarest and most valuable holdings were
sold off back in 2005, the incident that finally drew
attention to endemic problems dating back
to 2001 and earlier.

The Thomas Paine National Historical Association (TPNHA)
was the administrative body of the museum from its founding
in 1925.

In answer to my questions, the following responses
were received:

1). Brian McCartin is removed from the
museum property and he is no longer associated
in any capacity with the museum or the association.

2). The TPNHA administration was judged not
competent to administer the museum's holdings
and no longer administers the Thomas Paine Museum
or its contents.

3). The museum and its contents are presently subject
to the authority of the Office of the Attorney General of the
State of New York and the Regents of the University of the State
of New York. The New York Historical Society has been
been given temporary custody of the holdings.

4). The holdings of the museum are the subject of a
510/511 petition (see attachment) which, in my limited understanding,
means they are to be disbursed to an established and professionally
competent museum and no longer held in the Paine Museum.

5). The disposition of the museum property itself (ie. the building
and real estate) is undecided at this time, the administration and
disposition of that property to be largely decided by the Regents or
their designees.

6). The fate of the TPNHA is unclear at this time, since its historic
charter of fiduciary trust of the museum no longer exists and the
exact nature and composition of the association is itself in question.

7). The next stage of investigation could involve potential criminal
or civil liability.

Some personal comments: most of you know that I and other trustees
resigned this board back in 2001 and went to the AG, IRS, and
Secretary of State of NY precisely over these and many other issues of
malfeasance and misappropriation by the "director" and "officers" of
the TPNHA. We believed that the officers operated outside the bylaws
and state law, donations were improperly disbursed, grants diverted to
improper and arguably illegal purposes, and then of course came the
sell-off of some of the museum's most priceless assets.

It took a long time to get anyone's attention, but the Attorney
General's office, once alert to the problem, has been diligent and
true to the public's interest. In my opinion, they deserve our thanks
and support. Credit also needs to be given to Irwin and Martha
Spiegleman of Amherst, MA, for it was (as I recall) Irwin who spotted
the sell-off and alerted the rest of us.

According to some reports, one or more of the individuals involved
with this failed administration -- and, in my opinion, spurious and
illegal Board -- have now declared themselves the officers of the
TPNHA. Use great caution in having dealings with anyone who claims to
represent the TPNHA. That organization has been effectively defunct,
had little or no membership, and operated illegally outside their
own bylaws for many years now. In my opinion, the best thing to do is
to stand aside, wait, and watch as the legal process winds its way
out. By the way, the monument is owned by the City of New Rochelle and
the cottage by the Huguenot Historical Association.

So that's all for now, Paine friends. I'm happy to respond to any
questions or requests for clarification, but virtually all I know
right now is included in this email. The Asst. AG has promised to keep
me updated and so when I hear more, I'll follow up again. Please let
me know if you have any further details to add and I'll include it in
future notices.

with best wishes,

Ken Burchell



The object of Revolution - Thomas Paine

"Revolutions have for their object, a change in the moral condition of governments." Thomas Paine - Rights of Man II, 1792.

Kenneth Burchell Americans, take a lesson in democracy from the people of Iran. Into the streets, people! Our taxes are used for state murder, payoffs to bankers, and subsidies for the corporates. Our role is the bitch whose pockets are fleeced to keep the wheels of corruption turning. Iranians are giving Americans a lesson in democratic commitment. Oh ... wait a minute ... "American Idol" is on ... never mind ...