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:
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

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 ...