Saturday, January 7, 2012

Paine on freedom of opinion in religion and government

"When opinions are free, either in matters of government or religion, truth will finally and powerfully prevail." Thomas Paine, Age of Reason, pt. II. 

21 comments:

  1. Did Paine believe in Providence?

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  2. Yes, it's fair to say so. He was no atheist, but rather a deist ... and an ardent and sincere one, too. You'll find his thoughts on the subject in AGE OF REASON, a book that I highly recommend. Thanks for your question.

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  3. Did Paine believe he was chosen by God as the instrument for global revolution?

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  4. Of course not. One of these two is apparent: either a). you have opted not to read AGE OF REASON or b). you misunderstand the implications of Paine's deism. Again, I recommend that you have recourse to Paine's actual ideas as set forth in his writings. And again, thank you for your question.

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  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  6. To "anonymous": If you actually care about the subject, go read AGE OF REASON. Until then, I'm not interested in "gotcha" exchanges. If you have a beef with Fruchtman, take it up with Jack. Not my job. I consider him an honest man, a friend, colleague and scholar. So far I see no sign of either for your part.

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  7. Incidentally, I absolutely agree with Jack Fruchtman's assertions about Paine's belief that he was God's chosen instrument. The question is: do you?

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  8. A fair question: the answer is no. I find that Paine denies that sort of piddling around in human affairs by the so-called "God." You or Jack are free to believe whatever you like, but for Paine's opinions, I AGAIN suggest turning to Paine.

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  9. Sir,
    Are these Tom Paine's words?

    That some desperate wretches should be willing to steal and enslave men by violence and murder for gain, is rather lamentable than strange. But that many civilized, nay, Christianized people should approve, and be concerned in the savage practice, is surprising; and still persist, though it has been so often proved contrary to the light of nature, to every principle of Justice and Humanity, and even good policy, by a succession of eminent men, and several late publications.

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  10. Dr. Benjamin Rush certainly thought so, and it is on his personal attribution combined with careful textual analysis that subsequent scholarship rests to date. Here is Rush's statement:

    "I met him accidentally in Mr. Aitkin's bookstore, and was introduced to him by Mr. Aitkin. We conversed a few minutes, and I left him. Soon afterwards I read a short essay with which I was much pleased, in one of Bradford's papers, against the slavery of the Africans in our country, and which I was informed was written by Mr. Paine. This excited my desire to be better acquainted with him."

    Benjamin Rush to James Cheetham (July 17, 1809), in Letters of Benjamin Rush, vol. 1, 1761-1792, ed. L. H. Butterfield (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1951), 1008.

    There's no good reason to doubt Rush, though he was an old man when he wrote this account. Historian James Lynch occupies a tiny minority position in questioning Paine's authorship -- accepted by the great majority of working scholars.

    Frank Smith's analysis has not be exceded:


    See also Frank Smith, "New Light on Thomas Paine's First Year in America, 1775," American LIterature 1:4 (January 1930), 347-371.

    Thank you for your question.

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  11. Sir,
    Any idea of the name of the publication Paine wrote into?
    Thank you.

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  12. This piece entitled "African Slavery in America" appeared March 8, 1775 in the Pennsylvania Journal and the Weekly Advertiser.

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  13. Pennsylvania Journal or Pennsylvania Magazine??

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  14. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  15. Sir,
    I think I understand. His slavery essay appeared in the Pennsylvania Journal and the Weekly Advertiser. But he was later hired as executive editor of the Pennsylvania MAGAZINE. Does that sound correct?
    Thank-you

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  16. I believe you have the chronological order backwards ... hired by PA Mag first, THEN published "African Slavery in America" in PA Journal.

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  17. Did Ben Franklin advise Paine not to write his Age of Reason?

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  18. Did Paine name the United States of America?

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  19. DID BEN FRANKLIN WARN PAINE NOT TO WRITE AGE OF REASON?

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  20. Dear "Anonymous," first ... you are rude (and/or immature) and if you continue to act that way your requests will be ignored on this blog.

    Despite the fables you may read from religious fanatics online, Franklin never did any such thing. Franklin's letter warning of the dangers of publishing anti-religious materials is in the National Archives and it is unaddressed (contrary to the false information on some internet websites ... check me our on this yourself). Internal evidence proves that it could not have been written to Paine. Moncure Daniel Conway did the research on this many years ago.

    Paine is indeed, insofar as I can tell, the first person to use the phrase "United States of America." You can reach your own conclusion as to whether that entitles him to have "named" the USA.

    Now ... here's a suggestion; you have already found that I am generous with my time and attention. Hint: be polite and don't depend upon me to do your homework for you. Rely upon the original evidence, not the claims of partisan websites with a religious axe to grind. Read the original works, read Paine himself and THINK. Thank you.

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