Tom Paine: America's Godfather, 1737-1809

By W. E. Woodward | Go to book overview

Tom Paine
America's Godfather

CHAPTER I
The Little Quaker Boy

1

THE AMERICAN people are hero-worshippers by nature and training. We give to our cherished national figures a respect --and, indeed, an adoration--which would have turned them into demigods in the days of pagan Rome.

Patrick Henry, a small-town lawyer in Virginia, shouted his defiance of King George III and said, "Give me liberty or give me death." At that time only a few people knew who he was; today everybody has heard of him, and almost every schoolboy has been made to memorize his famous speech and recite it on special occasions.

Paul Revere, a silversmith, rode along a country road one fateful evening to warn the people that the British troops were coming. There was really nothing remarkable about his ride except its laudable purpose. He was never in any danger, even though a British patrol held him up for a few hours, and he was not a bit tired when he had reached the end of his journey. No doubt he would be astounded if he came back to earth right now and learned that books and poems had been written about him and his wonderful achievement.

But public approval is as changeable as the wind, and it may be deflected or set in reverse by clever and unscrupulous persons and organizations who know how to control it. Consider Tom Paine. At the time of the American Revolution and for several years thereafter he was held in high honor. He was truly the godfather of the American nation, for he did more than any other individual to bring about the Declaration of In-

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Tom Paine: America's Godfather, 1737-1809
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Preface 5
  • Contents 7
  • Illustrations 9
  • Chapter I - The Little Quaker Boy 13
  • Chapter II - A Life Without Motive 33
  • Chapter III - Paine Comes to America 50
  • Chapter IV - Paine Writes a Best Seller 66
  • Chapter V - A Restless Intellectual 85
  • Chapter VI - The Silas Deane Controversy 97
  • Chapter VII - The Revolution's Financial Crisis 118
  • Chapter VIII - Paine as a Propagandist 133
  • Chapter IX - Iron Bridges and Tallow Candles 152
  • Chapter X - The Rights of Man 173
  • Chapter XI - More Books--More Trouble 199
  • Chapter XII - Outlawed in England 222
  • Chapter XIII - The Age of Reason 251
  • Chapter XIV - Monroe Rescues Paine 275
  • Chapter XV - The Last Sad Years 304
  • Bibliography 342
  • Index 345
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