Tom Paine: America's Godfather, 1737-1809

By W. E. Woodward | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIV
Monroe Rescues Paine

ROBESPIERRE'S curt order to bring Paine to judgment was disregarded for a time by his successors. They had no great admiration for the men in jail, but they hardly felt inclined to carry out the instructions of a person whom they had just sent to the guillotine.

They did, however, get around to Thomas Paine (or "Payne," as they spelled it) in the course of a few weeks, and his name was set down on the list of those who were to be executed the next day.

His escape from this virtual certainty of death is as strange and exciting as anything that one is likely to read in a fictional adventure story. Here is an account of it in his own words:

One hundred and sixty-eight persons were taken out of the Luxembourg in one night, and a hundred and sixty of them guillotined the next day, of which I knew I was to be one; and the manner I escaped that fate is curious, and has all the appearance of accident. The room in which I lodged was on the ground floor, and one of a long range of rooms under a gallery, and the door of it opened outward and flat against the wall; so that when it was open the inside of the door appeared outward, and the contrary when it was shut. I had three comrades, fellow prisoners with me . . . when persons by scores and by hundreds were to be taken out of the prison for the guillotine it was always done in the night, and those who performed that office had a private mark or signal by which they knew what rooms to go to, and what number to take. We, as I have said, were four, and the door of our room was marked, unobserved by us, with that number in chalk; but it happened, if happening is the proper word, that the mark was put on when the door was open and flat against the wall, and thereby came on the inside when we shut it at night; and the destroying angel passed by it.

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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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