Thomas Paine: Liberator

Thomas Paine: Liberator

Thomas Paine: Liberator

Thomas Paine: Liberator

Excerpt

Of all the men who fought in the revolutionary movement of the eighteenth century, none deserves a larger and more lasting place in the democratic tradition than Thomas Paine. He was one of the greatest idealists in the history of man's struggle for a better world. There is a legend that Franklin once said, "Where liberty is, there is my country," and Paine replied, "Where liberty is not, there is my country." Wherever the cause of liberty was to be served, he served it by heroic pamphlets and heroic deeds. He blazed the path of independence for America, headed the revolutionary forces in England, and championed the French Revolution before the world. On two continents this tall, gaunt, strong-featured man, with his devastating attacks on privilege and injustice, was hailed as a Messiah by the embattled millions whose aspirations he expressed.

During his lifetime his courageous and inexhaustible idealism brought upon him powerful enemies, who made his life a hazardous and unenviable one. They set mobs upon him in the streets, burned him in effigy, and connived at his imprisonment for almost a year in the shadow of the guillotine. He weathered it all as part of the fight and died as he had lived, believing in the dignity of common men and the sacredness of struggle in their behalf. Since his death in 1809 he has had other enemies, who have sought to tarnish his memory and by implication the things for which he stood.

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