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Robert Ingersoll Thomas Paine

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Thomas Paine

Robert Green Ingersoll

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Contents of this file                            page

THOMAS PAINE -- 1892                                    1
SUMTER'S GUN.                                          13
VIVISECTION.                                           15

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"A great man's memory may outlive his life half a year,
But, by'r lady, he must build churches then."

EIGHTY-THREE years ago Thomas Paine ceased to defend himself.
The moment he became dumb all his enemies found a tongue. He was
attacked on every hand. The Tories of England had been waiting for
their revenge. The believers in kings, in hereditary government,
the nobility of every land, execrated his memory. Their greatest
enemy was dead. The believers in human slavery, and all who
clamored for the rights of the States as against the sovereignty of
a Nation, joined in the chorus of denunciation. In addition to
this, the believers in the inspiration of the Scriptures, the
occupants of orthodox pulpits, the professors in Christian
colleges, and the religious historians, were his sworn and
implacable foes.

This man had gratified no ambition at the expense of his
fellow-men; he had desolated no country with the flame and sword of
war; he had not wrung millions from the poor and unfortunate; he
had betrayed no trust, and yet he was almost universally despised.
He gave his life for the benefit of mankind. Day and night for
many, many weary years, he labored for the good of others, and gave
himself body and soul to the great cause of human liberty. And yet
he won the hatred of the people for whose benefit, for whose
emancipation, for whose civilization, for whose exaltation he gave
his life.

Against him every slander that malignity could coin and
hypocrisy pass was gladly and joyously taken as genuine, and every
truth with regard to his career was believed to be counterfeit. He
was attacked by thousands where he was defended by one, and the one
who defended him was instantly attacked, silenced, or destroyed.

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At last his life has been written by Moncure D. Conway, and
the real history of Thomas Paine, of what he attempted and
accomplished, of what he taught and suffered, has been
intelligently, truthfully and candidly given to the world.
Henceforth the slanderer will be without excuse.

He who reads Mr. Conway's pages will find that Thomas Paine
was more than a patriot -- that he was a philanthropist -- a lover
not only of his country, but of all mankind. He will find that his
sympathies were with those who suffered, without regard to religion
or race, country or complexion, He will find that this great man
did not hesitate to attack the governing class of his native land
-- to commit what was called treason against the king, that he
might do battle for the rights of men; that in spite of the
prejudices of birth, he took the side of the American Colonies;
that he gladly attacked the political abuses and absurdities that
had been fostered by altars and thrones for many centuries; that he
was for the people against nobles and kings, and that he put his
life in pawn for the good of others.

In the winter of 1774, Thomas Paine came to America. After a
time he was employed as one of the writers on the Pennsylvania

Let us see what he did, calculated to excite the hatred of his

The first article he ever wrote in America, and the first ever
published by him anywhere, appeared in that magazine on the 8th of
March, 1775. It was an attack on American slavery -- a plea for the
rights of the negro. In that article will be found substantially
all the arguments that can be urged against that most infamous of
all institutions. Every line is full of humanity, pity, tenderness,
and love of justice. Five days after this article appeared the
American Anti-Slavery Society was formed. Certainly this should not
excite our hatred. To-day the civilized world agrees with the essay
written by Thomas Paine in 1775.

At that time great interests were against him. The owners of
slaves became his enemies, and the pulpits, supported by slave
labor, denounced this abolitionist.

The next article published by Thomas Paine, in the same
magazine, and for the next month, was an attack on the practice of
dueling, showing that it was barbarous, that it did not even tend
to settle the right or wrong of a dispute, that it could not be
defended on any just grounds, and that its influence was degrading
and cruel. The civilized world now agrees with the opinions of
Thomas Paine upon that barbarous practice.

In May, 1775, appeared in the same magazine another article
written by Thomas Paine, a Protest Against Cruelty to Animals. He
began the work that was so successfully and gloriously carried out
by Henry Bergh, one of the noblest, one of the grandest, men that
this continent has produced.

The good people of this world agree with Thomas Paine.

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In August of the same year he wrote a plea for the Rights of
Woman, the first ever published in the New World. Certainly he
should not be hated for that.

He was the first to suggest a union of the colonies. Before
the Declaration of Independence was issued, Paine had written of
and about the Free and Independent States of America. He had also
spoken of the United Colonies as the "Glorious Union," and he was
the first to write these words: "The United States of America."

In May, 1775, Washington said: "If you ever hear of me joining
in any such measure (as separation from Great Britain) you have my
leave to set me down for everything wicked." He had also said: "It
is not the wish or interest of the government (meaning
Massachusetts), or of any other upon this continent, separately or
collectively, to set up for independence." And in the same year
Benjamin Franklin assured Chatham that no one in America was in
favor of separation. As a matter of fact, the people of the
colonies wanted a redress of their grievances -- they were not
dreaming of separation, of independence.

In 1775 Paine wrote the pamphlet known as "Common Sense." This
was published on the 10th of January, 1776. It was the first appeal
for independence, the first cry for national life, for absolute
separation. No pamphlet, no book, ever kindled such a sudden
conflagration, -- a purifying flame, in which the prejudices and
fears of millions were consumed. To read it now, after the lapse of
more than a hundred years, hastens the blood. It is but the meager
truth to say that Thomas Paine did more for the cause of
separation, to sow the seeds of independence, than any other man of
his time. Certainly we should not despise him for this. The
Declaration of Independence followed, and in that declaration will
be found not only the thoughts, but some of the expressions of
Thomas Paine.

During the war, and in the very darkest hours, Paine wrote
what is called "The Crisis," a series of pamphlets giving from time
to time his opinion of events, and his prophecies. These marvelous
publications produced an effect nearly as great as the pamphlet
"Common Sense." These strophes, written by the bivouac fires, had
in them the soul of battle.

In all he wrote, Paine was direct and natural. He touched the
very heart of the subject. He was not awed by names or titles, by
place or power. He never lost his regard for truth, for principle
-- never wavered in his allegiance to reason, to what he believed
to be right. His arguments were so lucid, so unanswerable, his
comparisons and analogies so apt, so unexpected, that they excited
the passionate admiration of friends and the unquenchable hatred of
enemies. So great were these appeals to patriotism, to the love of
liberty, the pride of independence, the glory of success, that it
was said by some of the best and greatest of that time that the
American cause owed as much to the pen of Paine as to the sword of

On the 2d day of November, 1779, there was introduced into the
Assembly of Pennsylvania an act for the abolition of slavery. The

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preamble was written by Thomas Paine. To him belongs the honor and
glory of having written the first Proclamation of Emancipation in
America -- Paine the first, Lincoln the last.

Paine, of all others, succeeded in getting aid for the
struggling colonies from France. "According to Lamartine, the King,
Louis XVI., loaded Paine with favors, and a gift of six millions
was confided into the hands of Franklin and Paine. On the 25th of
August, 1781, Paine reached Boston bringing two million five
hundred thousand livres in silver, and in convoy a ship laden with
clothing and military stores."

"In November, 1779, Paine was elected clerk to the General
Assembly of Pennsylvania. In 1780, the Assembly received a letter
from General Washington in the field, saying that he feared the
distresses in the army would lead to mutiny in the ranks. This
letter was read by Paine to the Assembly. He immediately wrote to
Blair McClenaghan, a Philadelphia merchant, explaining the urgency,
and inclosing five hundred dollars, the amount of salary due him as
clerk, as his contribution towards a relief fund. The merchant
called a meeting the next day, and read Paine's letter, A
subscription list was immediately circulated, and in a short time
about one million five hundred thousand dollars was raised. With
this capital the Pennsylvania bank -- afterwards the bank of North
America -- was established for the relief of the army."

In 1783 "Paine wrote a memorial to Chancellor Livingston,
Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Robert Morris, Minister of Finance,
and his assistant, urging the necessity of adding a Continental
Legislature to Congress, to be elected by the several States.
Robert Morris invited the Chancellor and a number of eminent men to
meet Paine at dinner, where his plea for a stronger Union was
discussed and approved. This was probably the earliest of a series
of consultations preliminary to the Constitutional Convention."

"On the 19th of April, 1783, it being the eighth anniversary
of the Battle of Lexington, Paine printed a little pamphlet
entitled 'Thoughts on Peace and the Probable Advantages Thereof.'"
In this pamphlet he pleads for "a supreme Nationality absorbing all
cherished sovereignties." Mr. Conway calls this pamphlet Paine's
"Farewell Address," and gives the following extract:

"It was the cause of America that made me an author. The
force with which it struck my mind, and the dangerous
condition in which the country was in, by courting an
impossible and an unnatural reconciliation with those who were
determined to reduce her, instead of striking out into the
only line that could save her, -- a Declaration of
Independence, -- made it impossible for me, feeling as I did,
to be silent; and if, in the course of more than seven years,
I have rendered her any service, I have likewise added
something to the reputation of literature, by freely and
disinterestedly employing it in the great cause of mankind...
But as the scenes of war are closed, and every man preparing
for home and happier times, I therefore take leave of the
subject. I have most sincerely followed it from beginning to
end, and through all its turns and windings; and whatever

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country I may hereafter be in, I shall always feel an honest pride
at the part I have taken and acted, and a gratitude to nature and
providence for putting it in my power to be of some use to

Paine had made some enemies, first, by attacking African
slavery, and, second, by insisting upon the sovereignty of the

During the Revolution our forefathers, in order to justify
making war on Great Britain, were compelled to take the ground that
all men are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
In no other way could they justify their action. After the war, the
meaner instincts began to take possession of the mind, and those
who had fought for their own liberty were perfectly willing to
enslave others. We must also remember that the Revolution was begun
and carried on by a noble minority -- that the majority were really
in favor of Great Britain and did what they dared to prevent the
success of the American cause. The minority, however, had control
of affairs. They were active, energetic, enthusiastic, and
courageous, and the majority were overawed, shamed, and suppressed.
But when peace came, the majority asserted themselves and the
interests of trade and commerce were consulted. Enthusiasm slowly
died, and patriotism was mingled with the selfishness of traffic.

But, after all, the enemies of Paine were few, the friends
were many. He had the respect and admiration of the greatest and
the best, and was enjoying the fruits of his labor.

The Revolution was ended, the colonies were free. They had
been united, they formed a Nation, and the United States of America
had a place on the map of the world.

Paine was not a politician. He had not labored for seven years
to get an office. His services were no longer needed in America. He
concluded to educate the English people, to inform them of their
rights, to expose the pretenses, follies and fallacies, the crimes
and cruelties of nobles, kings, and parliaments. In the brain and
heart of this man were the dream and hope of the universal
republic. He had confidence in the people. He hated tyranny and
war, despised the senseless pomp and vain show of crowned robbers,
laughed at titles, and the "honorable" badges worn by the
obsequious and servile, by fawners and followers; loved liberty
with all his heart, and bravely fought against those who could give
the rewards of place and gold, and for those who could pay only
with thanks.

Hoping to hasten the day of freedom, he wrote the "Rights of
Man" -- a book that laid the foundation for all the real liberty
that the English now enjoy -- a book that made known to Englishmen
the Declaration of Nature, and convinced millions that all are
children of the same mother, entitled to share equally in her
gifts. Every Englishman who has outgrown the ideas of 1688 should
remember Paine with love and reverence. Every Englishman who has
sought to destroy abuses, to lessen or limit the prerogatives of
the crown, to extend the suffrage, to do away with "rotten
boroughs," to take taxes from knowledge, to increase and protect
the freedom of speech and the press, to do away with bribes under

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the name of pensions, and to make England a government of
principles rather than of persons, has been compelled to adopt the
creed and use the arguments of Thomas Paine. In England every step
toward freedom has been a triumph of Paine over Burke and Pitt. No
man ever rendered a greater service to his native land.

The book called the "Rights of Man" was the greatest
contribution that literature had given to liberty. It rests on the
bed-rock. No attention is paid to precedents except to show that
they are wrong. Paine was not misled by the proverbs that wolves
had written for sheep. He had the intelligence to examine for
himself, and the courage to publish his conclusions. As soon as the
"Rights of Man" was published the Government was alarmed. Every
effort was made to suppress it. The author was indicted; those who
published, and those who sold, were arrested and imprisoned. But
the new gospel had been preached -- a great man had shed light --
a new force had been born, and it was beyond the power of nobles
and kings to undo what the author-hero had done.

To avoid arrest and probable death, Paine left England. He had
sown with brave hand the seeds of thought, and he knew that he had
lighted a fire that nothing could extinguish until England should
be free.

The fame of Thomas Paine had reached France in many ways --
principally through Lafayette. His services in America were well
known. The pamphlet "Common Sense" had been published in French,
and its effect had been immense. "The Rights of Man" that had
created, and was then creating, such a stir in England, was also
known to the French. The lovers of liberty everywhere were the
friends and admirers of Thomas Paine. In America, England,
Scotland, Ireland, and France he was known as the defender of
popular rights. He had preached a new gospel. He had given a new
Magna Charta to the people.

So popular was Paine in France that he was elected by three
constituencies to the National Convention. He chose to represent
Calais. From the moment he entered French territory he was received
with almost royal honors. He at once stood with the foremost, and
was welcomed by all enlightened patriots. As in America, so in
France, he knew no idleness -- he was an organizer and worker. The
first thing he did was to found the first Republican Society, and
the next to write its Manifesto, in which the ground was taken that
France did not need a king; that the people should govern
themselves. In this Manifesto was this argument:

"What kind of office must that be in a government which
requires neither experience nor ability to execute? that may
be abandoned to the desperate chance of birth; that may be
filled with an idiot, a madman, a tyrant, with equal effect as
with the good, the virtuous, the wise? An office of this
nature is a mere nonentity; it is a place of show, not of

He said:

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"I am not the personal enemy of kings. Quite the
contrary. No man wishes more heartily than myself to see them
all in the happy and honorable state of private individuals;
but I am the avowed, open and intrepid enemy of what is called
monarchy; and I am such by principles which nothing can either
alter or corrupt, by my attachment to humanity, by the anxiety
which I feel within myself for the dignity and honor of the
human race."

One of the grandest things done by Thomas Paine was his effort
to save the life of Louis XVI. The Convention was in favor of
death. Paine was a foreigner. His career had caused some
jealousies. He knew the danger he was in -- that the tiger was
already crouching for a spring -- but he was true to his
principles. He was opposed to the death penalty. He remembered that
Louis XVI. had been the friend of America, and he very cheerfully
risked his life, not only for the good of France, not only to save
the king, but to pay a debt of gratitude. He asked the Convention
to exile the king to the United States. He asked this as a member
of the Convention and as a citizen of the United States. As an
American he felt grateful not only to the king, but to every
Frenchman, He, the adversary of all kings, asked the Convention to
remember that kings were men, and subject to human frailties. He
took still another step, and said: "As France has been the first of
European nations to abolish royalty, let us also be the first to
abolish the punishment of death."

Even after the death of Louis had been voted, Paine made
another appeal. With a courage born of the highest possible sense
of duty he said:

"France has but one ally -- the United States of America.
That is the only nation that can furnish France with naval
provisions, for the kingdoms of Northern Europe are, or soon
will be, at war with her. It happens that the person now under
discussion is regarded in America as a deliverer of their
country. I can assure you that his execution will there spread
universal sorrow, and it is in your power not thus to wound
the feelings of your ally. Could I speak the French language
I would descend to your bar, and in their name become your
petitioner to respite the execution of your sentence on Louis.
Ah, citizens, give not the tyrant of England the triumph of
seeing the man perish on the scaffold who helped my dear
brothers of America to break his chains."

This was worthy of the man who had said: "Where Liberty is
not, there is my country."

Paine was second on the committee to prepare the draft of a
constitution for France to be submitted to the Convention. He was
the real author, not only of the draft of the Constitution, but of
the Declaration of Rights.

In France, as in America, he took the lead. His first thoughts
seemed to be first principles. He was clear because he was
profound. People without ideas experience great difficulty in
finding words to express them.

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From the moment that Paine cast his vote in favor of mercy --
in favor of life -- the shadow of the guillotine was on him, He
knew that when he voted for the King's life, he voted for his own
death. Paine remembered that the king had been the friend of
America, and to him ingratitude seemed the worst of crimes. He
worked to destroy the monarch, not the man; the king, not the
friend. He discharged his duty and accepted death. This was the
heroism of goodness -- the sublimity of devotion.

Believing that his life was near its close, he made up his
mind to give to the world his thoughts concerning "revealed
religion." This he had for some time intended to do, but other
matters had claimed his attention. Feeling that there was no time
to be lost, he wrote the first part of the "Age of Reason," and
gave the manuscript to Joel Barlow. Six hours after, he was
arrested. The second part was written in prison while he was
waiting for death.

Paine clearly saw that men could not be really free, or defend
the freedom they had, unless they were free to think and speak. He
knew that the church was the enemy of liberty, that the altar and
throne were in partnership, that they helped each other and divided
the spoils.

He felt that, being a man, he had the right to examine the
creeds and the Scriptures for himself, and that, being an honest
man, it was his duty and his privilege to tell his fellow-men the
conclusions at which he arrived.

He found that the creeds of all orthodox churches were absurd
and cruel, and that the Bible was no better. Of course he found
that there were some good things in the creeds and in the Bible.
These he defended, but the infamous, the inhuman, he attacked.

In matters of religion he pursued the same course that he had
in things political. He depended upon experience, and above all on
reason. He refused to extinguish the light in his own soul. He was
true to himself, and gave to others his honest thoughts. He did not
seek wealth, or place, or fame. He sought the truth.

He had felt it to be his duty to attack the institution of
slavery in America, to raise his voice against dueling, to plead
for the rights of woman, to excite pity for the sufferings of
domestic animals, the speechless friends of man; to plead the cause
of separation, of independence, of American nationality, to attack
the abuses and crimes of monarchs to do what he could to give
freedom to the world.

He thought it his duty to take another step. Kings asserted
that they derived their power, their right to govern, from God. To
this assertion Paine replied with the "Rights of Man." Priests
pretended that they were the authorized agents of God. Paine
replied with the "Age of Reason."

This book is still a power, and will be as long as the
absurdities and cruelties of the creeds and the Bible have
defenders. The "Age of Reason" affected the priests just as the

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"Rights of Man" affected nobles and kings. The kings answered the
arguments of Paine with laws, the priests with lies. Kings appealed
to force, priests to fraud. Mr. Conway has written in regard to the
"Age of Reason" the most impressive and the most interesting
chapter in his book.

Paine contended for the rights of the individual, -- for the
jurisdiction of the soul. Above all religions he placed Reason,
above all kings, Men, and above all men Law.

The first part of the "Age of Reason" was written in the
shadow of a prison, the second part in the gloom of death. From
that shadow, from that gloom, came a flood of light. This
testament, by which the wealth of a marvelous brain, the love of a
great and heroic heart were given to the world, was written in the
presence of the scaffold, when the writer believed he was giving
his last message to his fellow-men.

The "Age of Reason" was his crime.

Franklin, Jefferson, Sumner and Lincoln, the four greatest
statesmen that America has produced, were believers in the creed of
Thomas Paine.

The Universalists and Unitarians have found their best
weapons, their best arguments, in the "Age of Reason."

Slowly, but surely, the churches are adopting not only the
arguments, but the opinions of the great Reformer.

Theodore Parker attacked the Old Testament and Calvinistic
theology with the same weapons and with a bitterness excelled by no
man who has expressed his thoughts in our language.

Paine was a century in advance of his time. If he were living
now his sympathy would be with Savage, Chadwick, Professor Briggs
and the "advanced theologians." He, too, would talk about the
"higher criticism," and the latest definition of "inspiration."
These advanced thinkers substantially are repeating the "Age of
Reason." They still wear the old uniform -- clinging to the toggery
of theology -- but inside of their religious rags they agree with
Thomas Paine.

Not one argument that Paine urged against the inspiration of
the Bible, against the truth of miracles, against the barbarities
and infamies of the Old Testament, against the pretensions of
priests and the claims of kings, has ever been answered.

His arguments in favor of the existence of what he was pleased
to call the God of Nature were as weak as those of all Theists have
been. But in all the affairs of this world, his clearness of
vision, lucidity of expression, cogency of argument, aptness of
comparison, power of statement and comprehension of the subject in
hand, with all its bearings and consequences, have rarely, if ever,
bean excelled.

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He had no reverence for mistakes because they were old. He did
not admire the castles of Feudalism even when they were covered
with ivy. He not only said that the Bible was not inspired, but he
demonstrated that it could not all be true. This was "brutal." He
presented arguments so strong, so clear, so convincing, that they
could not be answered. This was "vulgar."

He stood for liberty against kings, for humanity against
creeds and gods. This was "cowardly and low." He gave his life to
free and civilize his fellow-men. This was "infamous."

Paine was arrested and imprisoned in December, 1793. He was,
to say the least, neglected by Gouverneur Morris and Washington. He
was released through the efforts of James Monroe, in November,
1794. He was called back to the Convention, but too late to be of
use. As most of the actors had suffered death, the tragedy was
about over and the curtain was falling. Paine remained in Paris
until the "Reign of Terror" was ended and that of the Corsican
tyrant had commenced.

Paine came back to America hoping to spend the remainder of
his life surrounded by those for whose happiness and freedom he had
labored so many years. He expected to be rewarded with the love and
reverence of the American people.

In 1794 James Monroe had written to Paine these words:

It is unnecessary for me to tell you how much all your
countrymen, I speak of the great mass of the people, are
interested in your welfare. They have not forgot the history
of their own Revolution and the difficult scenes through which
they passed; nor do they review its several stages without
reviving in their bosoms a due sensibility of the merits of
those who served them in that great and arduous conflict The
crime of ingratitude has not yet stained, and I hope never
will stain, our national character. You are considered by them
as not only having rendered important services in our own
Revolution, but as being on a more extensive scale the friend
of human rights and a distinguished and able advocate of
public liberty. To the welfare of Thomas Paine we are not and
cannot be indifferent."

In the same year Mr. Monroe wrote a letter to the Committee of
General Safety, asking for the release of Mr. Paine, in which,
among other things, he said:

"The services Thomas Paine rendered to his country in its
struggle for freedom have implanted in the hearts of his
countrymen a sense of gratitude never to be effaced as long as
they shall deserve the title of a just and generous people."

On reaching America, Paine found that the sense of gratitude
had been effaced. He found that the Federalists hated him with all
their hearts because he believed in the rights of the people and
was still true to the splendid principles advocated during the
darkest days of the Revolution. In almost every pulpit he found a
malignant and implacable foe, and the pews were filled with his

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enemies. The slave-holders hated him. He was held responsible even
for the crimes of the French Revolution. He was regarded as a
blasphemer, an Atheist, an enemy of God and man. The ignorant
citizens of Bordentown, as cowardly as orthodox, longed to mob the
author of "Common Sense" and "The Crisis." They thought he had sold
himself to the Devil because he had defended God against the
slanderous charges that he had inspired the writers of the Bible --
because he had said that a being of infinite goodness and purity
did not establish slavery and polygamy.

Paine had insisted that men had the right to think for
themselves. This so enraged the average American citizen that he
longed for revenge.

In 1802 the people of the United states had exceedingly crude
ideas about the liberty of thought and expression. Neither had they
any conception of religious freedom. Their highest thought on that
subject was expressed by the word "toleration," and even this
toleration extended only to the various Christian sects. Even the
vaunted religious liberty of colonial Maryland was only to the
effect that one kind of Christian should not fine, imprison and
kill another kind of Christian, but all kinds of Christians had the
right, and it was their duty, to brand, imprison and kill Infidels
of every kind.

Paine had been guilty of thinking for himself and giving his
conclusions to the world without having asked the consent of a
priest -- just as he had published his political opinions without
leave of the king. He had published his thoughts on religion and
had appealed to reason -- to the light in every mind, to the
humanity, the pity, the goodness which he believed to be in every
heart. He denied the right of kings to make laws and of priests to
make creeds. He insisted that the people should make laws, and that
every human being should think for himself. While some believed in
the freedom of religion, he believed in the religion of freedom.

If Paine had been a hypocrite, if he had concealed his
opinions, if he had defended slavery with quotations from the
"sacred Scriptures" -- if he had cared nothing for the liberties of
men in other lands -- if he had said that the state could not live
without the church -- if he had sought for place instead of truth,
he would have won wealth and power, and his brow would have been
crowned with the laurel of fame.

He made what the pious call the "mistake" of being true to
himself -- of living with an unstained soul. He had lived and
labored for the people. The people were untrue to him. They
returned evil for good, hatred for benefits received, and yet this
great chivalric soul remembered their ignorance and loved them with
all his heart, and fought their oppressors with all his strength.

We must remember what the churches and creeds were in that
day, what the theologians really taught, and what the people
believed. To save a few in spite of their vices, and to damn the
many without regard to their virtues, and all for the glory of the
Damner: -- this was Calvinism. "He that hath ears to hear, let him
hear," but he that hath a brain to think must not think. He that

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Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


believeth without evidence is good, and he that believeth in spite
of evidence is a saint. Only the wicked doubt, only the blasphemer
denies. This was orthodox Christianity.

Thomas Paine had the courage, the sense, the heart, to
denounce these horrors, these absurdities, these infinite infamies.
He did what he could to drive these theological wipers, these
Calvinistic cobras, these fanged and hissing serpents of
superstition from the heart of man.

A few civilized men agreed with him then, and the world has
progressed since 1809. Intellectual wealth has accumulated; vast
mental estates have been left to the world. Geologists have forced
secrets from the rocks, astronomers from the stars, historians from
old records and lost languages. In every direction the thinker and
the investigator have ventured and explored, and even the pews have
begun to ask questions of the pulpits. Humboldt has lived, and
Darwin and Haeckel and Huxley, and the armies led by them, have
changed the thought of the world.

The churches of 1809 could not be the friends of Thomas Paine.
No church asserting that belief is necessary to salvation ever was,
or ever will be, the champion of true liberty. A church founded on
slavery -- that is to say, on blind obedience, worshiping
irresponsible and arbitrary power, must of necessity be the enemy
of human freedom.

The orthodox churches are now anxious to save the little that
Paine left of their creed. If one now believes in God, and lends a
little financial aid, he is considered a good and desirable member.
He need not define God after the manner of the catechism. He may
talk about a "Power that works for righteousness," or the tortoise
Truth that beats the rabbit Lie in the long run, or the
"Unknowable," or the Unconditioned," or the "Cosmic Force," or the
"Ultimate Atom," or "Protoplasm," or the "What" -- provided he
begins this word with a capital.

We must also remember that there is a difference between
independence and liberty. Millions have fought for independence --
to throw off some foreign yoke -- and yet were at heart the enemies
of true liberty. A man in jail, sighing to be free, may be said to
be in favor of liberty, but not from principle; but a man who,
being free, risks or gives his life to free the enslaved, is a true
soldier of liberty.

Thomas Paine had passed the legendary limit of life. One by
one most of his old friends and acquaintances had deserted him.
Maligned on every side, execrated, shunned and abhorred -- his
virtues denounced as vices -- his services forgotten -- his
character blackened, he preserved the poise and balance of his
soul. He was a victim of the people, but his convictions remained
unshaken. He was still a soldier in the army of freedom, and still
tried to enlighten and civilize those who were impatiently waiting
for his death, Even those who loved their enemies hated him, their
friend -- the friend of the whole world -- with all their hearts.

On the 8th of June, 1809, death came -- Death, almost his only

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Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


At his funeral no pomp, no pageantry, no civic procession, no
military display. In a carriage, a woman and her son who had lived
on the bounty of the dead -- on horseback, a Quaker, the humanity
of whose heart dominated the creed of his head -- and, following on
foot, two negroes filled with gratitude -- constituted the funeral
cortege of Thomas Paine.

He who had received the gratitude of many millions, the thanks
of generals and statesmen -- he who had been the friend and
companion of the wisest and best -- he who had taught a people to
be free, and whose words had inspired armies and enlightened
nations, was thus given back to Nature, the mother of us all.

If the people of the great Republic knew the life of this
generous, this chivalric man, the real story of his services, his
sufferings and his triumphs of what he did to compel the robed and
crowned, the priests and kings, to give back to the people liberty,
the jewel of the soul; if they knew that he was the first to write,
"The Religion of Humanity"; if they knew that he, above all others,
planted and watered the seeds of independence, of union, of
nationality, in the hearts of our forefathers -- that his words
were gladly repeated by the best and bravest in many lands; if they
knew that he attempted, by the purest means, to attain the noblest
and loftiest ends -- that he was original, sincere, intrepid, and
that he could truthfully say: "The world is my country, to do good
my religion" -- if the people only knew all this -- the truth --
they would repeat the words of Andrew Jackson: "Thomas Paine needs
no monument made with hands; he has erected a monument in the
hearts of all lovers of liberty."

North American Review, August, 1892.

****     ****


1861 -- April 12th -- 1891.

FOR about three-quarters of a century the statesmen, that is
to say, the politicians, of the North and South, had been busy
making compromises, adopting constitutions and enacting laws; busy
making speeches, framing platforms and political pretenses, to the
end that liberty and slavery might dwell in peace and friendship
under the same flag.

Arrogance on one side, hypocrisy on the other.

Right apologized to Wrong for the sake of the Union.

The sources of justice were poisoned, and patriotism became
the defender of piracy. In the name of humanity mothers were robbed
of their babes.

Thirty years ago to-day a shot was fired, and in a moment all
the promises, all the laws, all the constitutional amendments, and
all the idiotic and heartless decisions of courts and all the
speeches of orators inspired by the hope of place and power, were
blown into rags and ravelings, pieces and patches.

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Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


The North and South had been masquerading as friends, and in
a moment, while the sound of that shot was ringing in their ears,
they faced each other as enemies.

The roar of that cannon announced the birth of a new epoch.
The echoes of that shot went out, not only over the bay of
Charleston, but over the hills, the prairies and forests of the

These echoes said marvelous things and uttered prophecies that
none were wise enough to understand.

Who at that time had the slightest conception of the immediate
future? Who then was great enough to see the end? Who then was wise
enough to know that the echoes would be kept alive and repeated for
years by thousands and thousands of cannon, by millions of muskets,
on the fields of ruthless war?

At that time Abraham Lincoln, an Illinois lawyer, was barely
a mouth in the President's chair, and that shot made him the most
commanding and majestic figure of the nineteenth century -- a
figure that stands alone.

Who could have guessed the names of the heroes to be repeated
by countless lips before the echoes of that shot should have died

There was at that time a young man at Galena, silent,
unobtrusive, unknown; and yet, the moment that shot was fired he
was destined to lead the greatest host ever marshaled on a field of
war, destined to receive the final sword of the Rebellion.

There was another, in the Southwest, who heard one of the
echoes of that shot, and who afterward marched from Atlanta to the
sea; and another, far away by the Pacific, who also heard one of
the echoes, and who became one of the immortal three.

But, above all, the echoes were heard by millions of men and
women in the fields of unpaid toil, and they knew not the meaning,
but felt that they had heard a prophecy of freedom. And the echoes
told of death and glory for many thousands -- of the agonies of
women -- the sobs of orphans -- the sighs of the imprisoned, and
the glad shouts of the delivered, the enfranchised, the redeemed.

They who fired that gun did not dream that they were giving
liberty to millions of people, including themselves, white as well
as black, North as well as South, and that before the echoes should
die away, all the shackles would be broken, all the constitutions
and statutes of slavery repealed, and all the compromises merged
and lost in a great compact made to preserve the liberties of all.


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