Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Review of Thomas Paine -- A Collection of Unknown Writings, ed. Hazel Burgess, London: Palgrave McMillan, 2010.

Just posted to this blog, a review of Thomas Paine -- A Collection of Unknown Writings, ed. Hazel Burgess, London: Palgrave McMillan, 2010. Just click on the right on the upper right hand side of this page to read in its entirety.


  1. Dear Mr. Burchell,

    As a great admirer of Mr. Paine's and his incredible contribution to the liberation of humankind, I eagerly purchased a copy of Ms. Burgess' book and was rather surprised and disturbed by the outright hostile regard she held her subject in.

    I was truly not expecting the overall tone of what I have read thus far.

    I was saddened by her claim that Mr. Paine did not compose the treatise on African Slavery in America.

    To your best personal knowledge, is there any empirical evidence to substantiate this claim?

    I was also deeply upset by her claim that he was a slave holder. Even in the most slanted and biased pieces on Mr. Paine's legacy, I don't believe that I have ever come across such an assertion.

    I cannot fathom such a guardian of liberty as Mr. Paine owning another human being. I suppose anything is possible, but I had always read that Mr. Paine deeply disapproved of his good friend Mr. Jefferson's keeping of slaves, but tended to keep his own counsel on the matter.

    I was rather saddened more than anything else by the pages I have read so far, because I so deeply admire and respect Mr. Paine but do not want to have intellectual blinders on, as it were, if these claims have some modicum of validity.

    Your thoughts would be deeply appreciated.

    Kindest Regards,

  2. Ryan, thanks for your note. You're right on target with your concerns -- there is zero validity to the claims of Mrs. Burgess ... whose degrees are in Religious Studies, incidentally. Allow me to point also to my review of her book which was just printed in the JOURNAL OF RADICAL HISTORY of the Thomas Paine Society. The full review is reprinted here

    And finally, it's always a happy thing to find another Paine admirer. I hope that you'll stay in touch ... perhaps "follow" this blog (there's a link at the right side of the page to do so) and keep reading the real Thomas Paine.

  3. Ryan, I should add one more comment. With respect to AFRICAN SLAVERY IN AMERICA, there exists some legitimate disagreement as to Paine's authorship. There is no proof -- insofar as I know -- that he penned this work. By the same token, there is no evidence that he did not. What is indisputable -- with the evident exception of Hazel Burgess -- is that he published it under his editorship and was a lifelong opponent of slavery in all its forms.


Keep it courteous and respectful, please.

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