Thomas Paine, Prophet and Martyr of Democracy

By Mary Agnes Best | Go to book overview

Chapter V
PAINE IS MADE PROPAGANDA GENERAL

When I converse with the freest of my neighbors, I perceive that, whatever 'they may assert about the magnitude and seriousness of the question, and their regard for the public tranquillity, the long and short of the matter is, that they cannot spare the protection of the existing government, and they dread the consequences to their property and families of disobedience to it. --THOREAU.

PURVEYORS of news have made the profitable discovery that to a vast number of the inhabitants of civilized countries, no less than to their savage brothers, pictures talk. They may conceal the truth as effectively as language. Between the time when Washington is pictured in immaculate military attire, against a background of the colors, triumphantly retreating across the Delaware, and that memorable day on which, mounted on a prancing charger, he rode forward to receive the surrender of Lord Cornwallis, much muddy water flowed under many bridges. Intervening events are less stimulating to national pride and do not so readily lend themselves to the pictorial art.

While they cracked grim jokes on the prospect of hanging, the worthy signers were acutely aware that they had embarked on an anxious undertaking. They were going up against the most powerful and warlike nation in the world with an army of agriculturists hastily licked into

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