Tom Paine: America's Godfather, 1737-1809

By W. E. Woodward | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XV
The Last Sad Years

I

TOM PAINE was a forerunner of Abraham Lincoln. Paine stood for manhood suffrage, and so did Lincoln. Paine argued for the abolition of Negro slavery years before Lincoln was born. Paine was an advocate of universal education, of free schools for all children and so was Lincoln. Paine believed that women should be classed as men's equals in human affairs, and that was also Lincoln's idea.

In their respective attitudes toward life and human welfare, even toward religion since Lincoln was as much a Deist as Jefferson, and in their intellectual processes, there was a close kinship between Lincoln and Paine. But there was also an important difference. Lincoln was a politician, or statesman, and he knew when to be silent and when to speak out. He could be soft in manner and pleasing in speech when facing his adversaries, and he won many of them over to his side, time and again, by such methods.

But Tom Paine had only contempt for those who did not agree with him and that attitude was seldom concealed. He spoke out harshly and clearly, in season and out of season. There can be hardly a doubt that, within the depths of his unconscious self, he had a need for martyrdom. It would be difficult indeed to find another important person in history who was so wholly lacking in shrewdness.

Paine had an unshakable belief that if once men understood his ideas and were honest, no more was necessary. But Lincoln felt that no matter how good an idea was, it had to be put into practice slowly and gradually.

To determine the character and extent of Paine's sins I have done a good deal of digging into the past; the result is wholly negative. He was certainly not a thief, a forger or a swindler,

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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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