Home » Library » Historical Library » Robert Ingersoll Vindication Of Thomas Paine

Historical Library Disclaimer

The Historical Library contains writings written before 1970, only. For material written during or after 1970, please refer to the Modern Documents section of the Secular Web Library.

This Historical Library is provided for those doing research into the history of nontheism. It is not intended to be--and should not be used as--a source of modern, up-to-date information regarding atheistic issues. Those looking for modern critiques of theism should go to the Modern Documents section of the Secular Web Library.

All of the Historical Library authors are dead--and in many cases have been so for several decades. We will not reply to email addressed to dead authors, and therefore any email addressed to these authors will be ignored. Similarly, we do not reply to feedback regarding faulty scholarship on the part of dead authors, nor do we correct spelling errors and/or typographical errors (most of which result from the scanning and OCR process) in their articles.
This document has been made available by the Bank of Wisdom.

Robert Ingersoll Vindication Of Thomas Paine

Order books by and about Robert Ingersoll now.

Vindication Of Thomas Paine

Robert Green Ingersoll

33 page printout.

Reproducible Electronic Publishing can defeat censorship.

****     ****

This file, its printout, or copies of either
are to be copied and given away, but NOT sold.

Bank of Wisdom, Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


****    ****



"To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of
reason is like administering medicine to the dead."

Thomas Paine.

Peoria, October 8, 1877.

To the Editor of the N.Y. Observer:

Sir: Last June in San Francisco, I offered a thousand dollars
in gold -- not as a wager, but as a gift -- to any one who would
substantiate the absurd story that Thomas Paine died in agony and
fear, frightened by the clanking chains of devils. I also offered
the same amount to any minister who would prove that Voltaire did
not pass away as serenely as the coming of the dawn. Afterward I
was informed that you had accepted the offer, and had called upon
me to deposit the money. Acting upon this information, I sent you
the following letter:

Peoria, Ill., August 31st, 1877.

To the Editor of the New York Observer:

I have been informed that you accepted, in your paper, an
offer made by me to any clergyman in San Francisco. That offer was,
that I would pay one thousand dollars in gold to any minister in
that city who would prove that Thomas Paine died in terror because
of religious opinions he had expressed, or that Voltaire did not
pass away serenely as the coming of the dawn.

For many years religious journals and ministers have been
circulating certain pretended accounts of the frightful agonies
endured by Paine and Voltaire when dying; that these great men at
the moment of death were terrified because they had given their
honest opinions upon the subject of religion to their fellow-men.
The imagination of the religious world has been taxed to the utmost
in inventing absurd and infamous accounts of the last moments of
these intellectual giants. Every Sunday school paper, thousands of
idiotic tracts, and countless stupidities called sermons, have been
filled with these calumnies.

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


Paine and Voltaire both believed in God -- both hoped for
immortality -- both believed in special providence. But both denied
the inspiration of the Scriptures -- both denied the divinity of
Jesus Christ. While theologians most cheerfully admit that most
murderers die without fear, they deny the possibility of any man
who has expressed his disbelief in the inspiration of the Bible
dying except in an agony of terror. These stories are used in
revivals and in Sunday schools, and have long been considered of
great value.

I am anxious that these slanders shall cease. I am desirous of
seeing justice done, even at this late day, to the dead.

For the purpose of ascertaining the evidence upon which these
death-bed accounts really rest, I make to you the following
proposition: --

First -- As to Thomas Paine: I will deposit with the First
National Bank of Peoria, Illinois, one thousand dollars in gold,
upon the following conditions: This money shall be subject to your
order when you shall, in the manner hereinafter provided,
substantiate that Thomas Paine admitted the Bible to be an inspired
book, or that he recanted his Infidel opinions -- or that he died
regretting that he had disbelieved the Bible -- or that he died
calling upon Jesus Christ in any religious sense whatever.

In order that a tribunal may be created to try this question,
you may select one man, I will select another, and the two thus
chosen shall select a third, and any two of the three may decide
the matter.

As there will be certain costs and expenditures on both sides,
such costs and expenditures shall be paid by the defeated party.

In addition to the one thousand dollars in gold, I will
deposit a bond with good and sufficient security in the sum of two
thousand dollars, conditioned for the payment of all costs in case
I am defeated. I shall require of you a like bond.

From the date of accepting this offer you may have ninety days
to collect and present your testimony, giving me notice of time and
place of taking depositions. I shall have a like time to take
evidence upon my side, giving you like notice, and you, shall then
have thirty days to take further testimony in reply to what I may
offer. The case shall then be argued before the persons chosen; and
their decisions shall be final as to us.

If the arbitrator chosen by me shall die, I shall have the
right to choose another. You shall have the same right. If the
third one, chosen by our two, shall die, the two shall choose
another; and all vacancies, from whatever cause, shall be filled
upon the same principle.

The arbitrators shall sit when and where a majority shall
determine, and shall have full power to pass upon all questions
arising as to competency of evidence, and upon all subjects.

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


Second.  As to Voltaire: I make the same proposition, if you
will substantiate that Voltaire died expressing remorse or showing
in any way that he was in mental agony because he had attacked
Catholicism -- or because he had denied the inspiration of the
Bible -- or because he had denied the divinity of Christ.

I make these propositions because I want you to stop
slandering the dead.

If the propositions do not suit you in any particular, please
state your objections, and I will modify them in any way consistent
with the object in view.

If Paine and Voltaire died filled with childish and silly
fear, I want to know it. and I want the world to know it. On the
other hand, if the believers in superstition have made and
circulated these cruel slanders concerning the mighty dead, I want
the world to know that.

As soon as you notify me of the acceptance of these
propositions I will send you the certificate of the bank that the
money has been deposited upon the foregoing conditions, together
with copies of bonds for costs. Yours truly,

R.G. Ingersoll.

In your paper of September 27, 1877, you acknowledge the
receipt of the foregoing letter, and after giving an outline of its
contents, say: "As not one of the affirmations, in the form stated
in this letter, was contained in the offer we made, we have no
occasion to substantiate them. But we are prepared to produce the
evidence of the truth of our own statement, and even to go further;
to show not only that Tom Paine 'died a drunken, cowardly, and
beastly death,' but that for many years previous, and up to that
event he lived a drunken and beastly life."

In order to refresh your memory as to what you had published,
I call your attention to the following, which appeared in the N.Y.
Observer, July 19, 1877:

"Col. Bob Ingersoll, in a speech full of ribaldry and
blasphemy, made in San Francisco recently, said: I will give a
1,000 in gold coin to any clergyman who can substantiate that the
death of Voltaire was not as peaceful as the dawn; and of Tom Paine
whom they assert died in fear and agony, frightened by the clanking
chains of devils -- in fact frightened to death by God. I will give
$1,000 likewise to any one who can substantiate this 'absurd story'
-- a story without a word of truth in it."

"We have published the testimony, and the witnesses are on
hand to prove that Tom Paine died a drunken, cowardly and beastly
death. "Let the Colonel deposit the money with any honest man, and
the absurd story, as he terms it, shall be shown to be an ower true
tale. But he won't do it. His talk is Infidel 'buncombe' and
nothing more."

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


On the 31st of August I sent you my letter, and on the 27th of
September you say in your paper: "As not one of the affirmations in
the form stated in this letter was contained in the offer we made,
we have no occasion to substantiate them."

What were the affirmations contained in the offer you made? I
had offered a thousand dollars in gold to any one who would
substantiate "the absurd story" that Thomas Paine died in fear and
agony, frightened by the clinking chains of devils -- in fact,
frightened to death by God.

In response to this offer you said: "Let the Colonel deposit
the money with an honest man and the 'absurd story' as he terms it,
shall be shown to be an 'ower true tale.' But he won't do it. His
talk is infidel 'buncombe' and nothing more."

Did you not offer to prove that Paine died in fear and agony,
frightened by the clanking chains of devils? Did you not ask me to
deposit the money that you might prove the "absurd story" to be an
"ower true tale" and obtain the money? Did you not in your paper of
the twenty-seventh of September in effect deny that you had offered
to prove this "absurd story"? As soon as I offered to deposit the
gold and give bonds besides to cover costs, did you not publish a

You nave eaten your own words, and, for my part, I would
rather have dined with Ezekiel than with you.

You have not met the issue. You have knowingly avoided it. The
question was not as to the personal habits of Paine. The real
question was and is, whether Paine was filled with fear and horror
at the time of his death on account of his religious opinions. That
is the question. You avoid this. In effect, you abandon that charge
and make others.

To you belongs the honor of having made the. most cruel and
infamous charges against Thomas Paine that have ever been made. Of
what you have said you cannot prove the truth of one word.

You say that Thomas Paine died a drunken, cowardly and beastly

I pronounce this charge to be a cowardly and beastly

Have you any evidence that he was in a drunken condition when
he died?

What did he say or do of a cowardly character just before, or
at about the time of his death?

In what way was his death cowardly? You must answer these
questions, and give your proof, or all honest men will hold you in
abhorrence. You have made these charges. The man against whom you
make them is dead. He cannot answer you. I can. He cannot compel
you to produce your testimony, or admit by your silence that you
have cruelly slandered the defenseless dead. I can and I will. You

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


say that his death was cowardly. In what respect? Was it cowardly
in him to hold the Thirty-Nine Articles in contempt? Was it
cowardly not to call on your Lord? Was it cowardly not to be
afraid? You say that his death was beastly. Again I ask, in what
respect? Was it beastly to submit to the inevitable with
tranquillity? Was it beastly to look with composure upon the
approach of death? Was it beastly to die without a complaint,
without a murmur -- to pass from life without a fear?


Mr. Paine had prophesied that fanatics would crawl and cringe
around him during his last moments. He believed that they would put
a lie in the mouth of Death.

When the shadow of the coming dissolution was upon him, two
clergymen, Messrs. Milledollar and Cunningham, called to annoy the
dying man. Mr. Cunningham had the politeness to say, "You have now
a full view of death -you cannot live long, and whosoever does not
believe in the Lord Jesus Christ will assuredly be damned." Mr.
Paine replied, "Let me have none of your popish stuff. Get away
with you. Good morning."

On another occasion a Methodist minister obtruded himself when
Willet Hicks was present. This minister declared to Mr. Paine "that
unless he repented of his unbelief he would he damned." Paine,
although at the door of death, rose in his bed and indignantly
requested the clergyman to leave his room. On another occasion, two
brothers by the name of Pigott, sought to convert him. He was
displeased and requested their departure. Afterward Thomas Nixon
and Captain Daniel Pelton visited him for the express purpose of
ascertaining whether he had, in any manner, changed his religious
opinions. They were assured by the dying man that he still held the
principles he had expressed in his writings.

Afterward, these gentlemen hearing that William Cobbett was
about to write a life of Paine, sent him the following note:

New York, April 24, 1818.

"Sir: We have been informed that you have a design to write a
history of the life and writings of Thomas Paine. If you have been
furnished with materials in respect to his religious opinions, or
rather of his recantation of his former opinions before his death,
all you have heard of his recanting is false. Being aware that such
reports would be raised after his death by fanatics who infested
his house at the time it was expected he would die, we, the
subscribers, intimate acquaintances of Thomas Paine since the year
1776, went to his house. He was sitting up in a chair, and
apparently in full vigor and use of all his mental faculties We
interrogated him upon his religious opinions, and if he had changed
his mind, or repented of anything he had said or wrote on that
subject. He answered, "Not at all," and appeared rather offended at
our supposition that any change should take place in his mind. We
took down in writing the questions put to him and his answers

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


thereto before a number of persons then in his room, among whom
were his doctor, Mrs. Bonneville, &c. This paper is mislaid and
cannot be found at present, but the above is the substance which
can be attested by many living witnesses."

Thomas Nixon.

Daniel Pelton.

Mr. Jarvis, the artist, saw Mr. Paine one or two days before
his death. To Mr. Jarvis he expressed his belief in his written
opinions upon the subject of religion. B. F. Haskin, an attorney of
the city of New York, also visited him and inquired as to his,
religious opinions. Paine was then upon the threshold of death, but
he did not tremble. He was not a coward. He expressed his firm and
unshaken belief in the religious ideas he had given to the world.

Dr. Manley was with him when he spoke his last words. Dr.
Manley asked the dying man if he did not wish to believe that Jesus
was the Son of God, and the dying philosopher answered: "I have no
wish to believe on that subject." Amasa Woodsworth sat up with
Thomas Paine the night before his death. In 1839 Gilbert Vale
hearing that Mr. Woodsworth was living in or near Boston, visited
him for the purpose of getting his statement. The statement was
published in the Beacon of June 5, 1839, while thousands who had
been acquainted with Mr. Paine were living.

The following is the article referred to.

"We have just returned from Boston. One object of our visit to
that city, was to see a Mr. Amasa Woodsworth, an engineer, now
retired in a handsome cottage and garden at East Cambridge, Boston.
This gentleman owned the house occupied by Paine at his death --
while he lived next door. As an act of kindness Mr. Woodsworth
visited Mr. Paine every day for six weeks before his death. He
frequently sat up with him, and did so on the last two nights of
his life. He was always there with Dr. Manley, the physician, and
assisted in removing Mr. Paine while his bed was prepared. He was
present when Dr. Manley asked Mr. Paine "if he wished to believe
that Jesus Christ was the Son of God," and he describes Mr. Paine's
answer as animated. He says that lying on his back he used some
action and with much emphasis, replied, "I have no wish to believe
on that subject." He lived some time after this, but was not known
to speak, for he died tranquilly. He accounts for the insinuating
style of Dr. Manley's letter, by stating that that gentleman just
after its publication joined a church. He informs us that he has
openly reproved the doctor for the falsity contained in the spirit
of that letter, boldly declaring before Dr. Manley, who is yet
living, that nothing which he saw justified the insinuations. Mr.
Woodsworth assures us that he neither heard nor saw anything to
justify the belief of any mental change in the opinions of Mr.
Paine previous to his death; but that being very ill and in pain
chiefly arising from the skin being removed in some parts by long
lying, he was generally too uneasy to enjoy conversation on
abstract subjects. This, then, is the best evidence that can be
procured on this subject, and we publish it while the contravening
parties are yet alive, and with the authority of Mr. Woodsworth.

Gilbert Vale.



A few weeks ago I received the following letter which confirms
the statement of Mr. Vale:

Near Stockton, Cal.,
Greenwood Cottage,
July 9, 1877.

Col. Ingersoll:

In 1842 I talked with a gentleman in Boston. I have forgotten
his name; but he was then an engineer of the Charleston navy yard.
I am thus particular so that you can find his name on the books. He
told me that he nursed Thomas Paine in his last illness, and closed
his eyes when dead. I asked him if he recanted and called upon God
to save him. He replied, "No. He died as he had taught. He had a
sore upon his side and when we turned him it was very painful and
he would cry out. 'O God!' or something like that." "But," said the
narrator, "that was nothing, for he believed in a God." I told him
that I had often heard it asserted from the pulpit that Mr. Paine
had recanted in his last moments. The gentleman said that it was
not true, and he appeared to be an intelligent, truthful man. With
respect, I remain, &c.,

Philip Graves, M.D.

The next witness is Willet Hicks, a Quaker Preacher. He says
that during the last illness of Mr. Paine he visited him almost
daily, and that Paine died firmly convinced of the truth of the
religious opinions he had given to his fellow-men. It was to this
same Willet Hicks that Paine applied for permission to be buried in
the cemetery of the Quakers. Permission was refused. This refusal
settles the question of recantation. If he had recanted, of course
there could have been no objection to his body being buried by the
side of the best hypocrites on the earth.

If Paine recanted why should he be denied "a little earth for
charity"? Had he recanted, it would have been regarded as a vast
and splendid triumph for the gospel. It would with much noise and
pomp and ostentation have been heralded about the world.

I received the following letter to-day. The writer is well
know in this city, and is a man of high character:

Peoria, Oct. 8th, 1877.

Robert G. Ingersoll,

Esteemed Friend: My parents were Friends (Quakers). My father
died when I was very young. The elderly and middle-aged Friends
visited at my mother's house. We lived in the city of New York.
Among the number I distinctly remember Elias Hicks, Willet Hicks,
and a Mr. ---- Day, who was a bookseller in Pearl street. There
were many others, whose names I do not now remember. The subject of
the recantation by Thomas Paine of his views about the Bible in his
last illness, or at any other time, was discussed by them in my
presence at different times. I learned from them that some of them
had attended upon Thomas Paine in his last sickness and ministered

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


to his wants up to the time of his death. And upon the question of
whether he did recant there was but one expression. They all said
that he did not recant in any manner. I often heard them say they
wished he had recanted. In fact, according to them, the nearer he
approached death the more positive he appeared to be in his

These conversations were from 1820 to 1822. I was at that time
from ten to twelve years old, but these conversations impressed
themselves upon me because many thoughtless people then blamed the
Society of Friends for their kindness to that "arch Infidel,"
Thomas Pain

Truly yours.

A.C. Hankinson.

A few days ago I received the following letter:

Albany, New York,
Sept. 27, 1877.

Dear Sir: It is over twenty years ago that professionally I
made the acquaintance of John Hogeboom, a Justice of the Peace of
the county of Rensselaer, New York. He was then over seventy years
of age and had the reputation of being a man of candor and
integrity. He was a great admirer of Paine. He told me that he was
personally acquainted with him, and used to see him frequently
during the last years of his life in the city of New York, where
Hogeboom then resided. I asked him if there was any truth in the
charge that Paine was in the habit of getting drunk. He said that
it was utterly false; that he never heard of such a thing during
the life-time of Mr. Paine, and did not believe any one else did.
I asked him about the recantation of his religious opinions on his
death-bed, and the revolting death-bed scenes that the world had
heard so much about. He said there was no truth in them, that he
had received his information from persons who attended Paine in his
last illness, "and that he passed peacefully away, as we may say,
in the sunshine of a great soul."...

Yours truly,

W.J. Hilton.

The witnesses by whom I substantiate the fact that Thomas
Paine did not recant, and that he died holding the religious
opinions he had published, are:

First -- Thomas Nixon, Captain Daniel Pelton, B.F. Haskin.
These gentlemen visited him during his last illness for the purpose
of ascertaining whether he had in any respect changed his views
upon religion. He told them that he had not.

Second -- James Cheetham. This man was the most malicious
enemy Mr. Paine had, and yet he admits that "Thomas Paine died
placidly, and al most without a struggle." (See Life of Thomas
Paine, by James Cheetham).

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


Third -- The ministers, Milledollar and Cunningham. These
gentlemen told Mr. Paine that if he died without believing in the
Lord Jesus Christ he would be damned, and Paine replied, "Let me
have none of your popish stuff. Good morning." (See Sherwin's Life
of Paine, p. 220).

Fourth -- Mrs. Hedden. She told these same preachers when they
attempted to obtrude themselves upon Mr. Paine again, that the
attempt to convert Mr. Paine was useless -- "that if God did not
change his mind no human power could."

Fifth -- Andrew A. Dean. This man lived upon Paine's farm at
New Rochelle, and corresponded with him upon religious subjects.
(See Paine's Theological Works, p. 308.)

Sixth -- Mr. Jarvis, the artist with whom Paine lived. He
gives an account of an old lady coming to Paine and telling him
that God Almighty had sent her to tell him that unless he repented
and believed in the blessed Savior, he would be damned. Paine
replied that God would not send such a foolish old woman with such
an impertinent message. (See Clio Rickman's Life of Paine.)

Seventh -- Wm. Carver, with whom Paine boarded. Mr. Carver
said again and again that Paine did not recant. He knew him well,
and had every opportunity of knowing. (See Life of Paine by Gilbert

Eighth -- Dr. Manley, who attended him in his last sickness,
and to whom Paine spoke his last words. Dr. Manley asked him if he
did not wish to believe in Jesus Christ, and he replied, "I have no
wish to believe on that subject."

Ninth -- Willet Hicks and Elias Hicks, who were with him frequently
during his last sickness, and both of whom tried to persuade him to
recant. According to their testimony, Mr. Paine died as he had
lived -- a believer in God, and a friend of man. Willet Hicks was
offered money to say something false against Thomas Paine. He was
even offered money to remain silent and allow others to slander the
dead. Mr. Hicks, speaking of Thomas Paine, said: "He was a good man
-- an honest man." (Vale's Life of Paine.)

Tenth -- Amasa Woodsworth, who was with him every day for some
six weeks immediately preceding his death, and sat up with him the
last two nights of his life. This man declares that Paine did not
recant and that he died tranquilly. The evidence of Mr. Woodsworth
is conclusive.

Eleventh -- Thomas Paine himself. The will of Thomas Paine,
written by himself, commences as follows:

"The last will and testament of me, the subscriber, Thomas
Paine, reposing confidence in my creator: God, and in no other
being, for I know of no other, nor believe in any other;" and
closes in these words "I have lived an honest and useful life to
mankind; my time has been spent in doing good, and I die in perfect
composure and resignation to the will of my creator God."

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


Twelfth -- If Thomas Paine recanted, why do you pursue him? If
he recanted, he died substantially in your belief, for what reason
then do you denounce his death as cowardly? If upon his death-bed
he renounced the opinions he had published, the business of
defaming him should be done by Infidels, not by Christians.

I ask you if it is honest to throw away the testimony of his
friends -- the evidence of fair and honorable men -- and take the
putrid words of avowed and malignant enemies?

When Thomas Paine was dying, he was infested by fanatics -- by
the snaky spies of bigotry. In the shadows of death were the
unclean birds of prey waiting to tear with beak and claw the corpse
of him who wrote the "Rights of Man." And there lurking and
crouching in the darkness were the jackals and hyenas of
superstition ready to violate his grave.

These birds of prey -- these unclean beasts are the witnesses
produced and relied upon by you.

One by one the instruments of torture have been wrenched from
the cruel clutch of the church, until within the armory of
orthodoxy there remains but one weapon -- Slander.

Against the witnesses that I have produced you can bring just
two -- Mary Roscoe and Mary Hinsdale. The first is referred to in
the memoir of Stephen Grellet. She had once been a servant in his
house. Grellet tells what happened between this girl and Paine.
According to this account Paine asked her if she had ever read any
of his writings, and on being told that she had read very little of
them, he inquired what she thought of them, adding that from such
an one as she he expected a correct answer.

Let us examine this falsehood. Why would Paine expect a
correct answer about his writings from one who had read very little
of them? Does not such a statement devour itself? This young lady
further said that the "Age of Reason" was put in her hands and that
the more she read in it the more dark and distressed she felt, and
that she threw the book into the fire. Whereupon Mr. Paine
remarked, "I wish all had done as you did, for if the devil ever
had any agency in any work, he had it in my writing that book."

The next is Mary Hinsdale. She was a servant in the family of
Willet Hicks. She, like Mary Roscoe, was sent to carry some
delicacy to Mr. Paine. To this young lady Paine, according to her
account, said precisely the same that he did to Mary Roscoe, and
she said the same thing to Mr. Paine.

My own opinion is that Mary Roscoe and Mary Hinsdale are one
and the same person, or the same story has been by mistake put in
the mouth of both. It is not possible that the same conversation
should have taken place between Paine and Mary Roscoe, and between
him and Mary Hinsdale.

Mary Hinsdale lived with Willet Hicks and he pronounced her
story a pious fraud and fabrication. He said that Thomas Paine
never said any such thing to Mary Hinsdale. (See Vale's Life of

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


Another thing about this witness. A woman by the name of Mary
Lockwood, a Hicksite Quaker, died. Mary Hinsdale met her brother
about that time and told him that his sister had recanted, and
wanted her to say so at her funeral. This turned out to be false.

It has been claimed that Mary Hinsdale made her statement to
Charles Collins. Long after the alleged occurrence Gilbert Vale,
one of the biographers of Paine, had a conversation with Collins
concerning Mary Hinsdale. Vale asked him what he thought of her. He
replied that some of the Friends believed that she used opiates,
and that they did not give credit to her statements. He also said
that he believed what the Friends said, but thought that when a
young woman, she might have told the truth.

In 1818 William Cobbett came to New York. He began collecting
materials for a life of Thomas Paine. In this he became acquainted
with Mary Hinsdale and Charles Collins. Mr. Cobbett gave a full
account of what happened in a letter addressed to the Norwich
Mercury in 1819. From this account it seems that Charles Collins
told Cobbett that Paine had recanted. Cobbett called for the
testimony, and told Mr. Collins that he must give time, place, and
the circumstances. He finally brought a statement that he stated
had been made by Mary Hinsdale. Armed with this document Cobbett,
in October of that year, called upon the said Mary Hinsdale, at No.
10 Anthony street, New York, and showed her the statement. Upon
being questioned by Mr. Cobbett she said, "That it was so long ago
that she could not speak positively to any part of the matter --
that she would not say that any part of the paper was true -- that
she had never seen the paper -- and that she had never given
Charles Collins authority to say anything about the matter in her
name." And so in the month of October, in the year of grace 1818,
in the mist and fog of forgetfulness disappeared forever one Mary
Hinsdale -- the last and only witness against the intellectual
honesty of Thomas Paine.

Did Thomas Paine live the life of a drunken beast and did he
die a drunken, cowardly and beastly death?

Upon you rests the burden of substantiating these infamous

You have, I suppose, produced the best evidence in your
possession, and that evidence I will now proceed to examine. Your
first witness is Grant Thorburn. He makes three charges against
Thomas Paine. 1st. That his wife obtained a divorce from him in
England for cruelty and neglect. 2d. That he was a defaulter and
fled from England to America. 3d. That he was a drunkard.

These three charges stand upon the same evidence -- the word
of Grant Thorburn. If they are not all true Mr. Thorburn stands

The charge that Mrs. Paine obtained a divorce on account of
the cruelty and neglect of her husband is utterly false. There is
no such record in the world, and never was. Paine and his wife
separated by mutual consent. Each respected the other. They
remained friends. This charge is without any foundation in fact. I

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


challenge the Christian world to produce the record of this decree
of divorce. According to Mr. Thorburn it was granted in England. In
that country public records are kept of all such decrees. Have the
kindness to produce this decree showing that it was given on
account of cruelty or admit that Mr. Thorburn was mistaken.

Thomas Paine was a just man. Although separated from his wife,
he always spoke of her with tenderness and respect, and frequently
sent her money without letting her know the source from whence it
came. Was this the conduct of a drunken beast?

The second charge, that Paine was a defaulter in England and
fled to America, is equally false. He did not flee from England. He
came to America, not as a fugitive, but as a free man. He came with
a letter of introduction signed by another Infidel, Benjamin
Franklin. He came as a soldier of Freedom -- an apostle of Liberty.

In this second charge there is not one word of truth. He held
a small office in England. If he was a defaulter the records of
that country will show that fact.

Mr. Thorburn, unless the record can be produced to
substantiate him, stands convicted of at least two mistakes.

Now, as to the third: He says that in 1802 Paine was an "old
remnant of mortality, drunk, bloated and half asleep."

Can any one believe this to be a true account of the personal
appearance of Mr. Paine in, 1802? He had just returned from France.
He had been welcomed home by Thomas Jefferson, who had said that he
was entitled to the hospitality of every American.

In 1802 Mr. Paine was honored with a public dinner in the city
of New York. He was called upon and treated with kindness and
respect by such men as DeWitt Clinton.

In 1806 Mr. Paine wrote a letter to Andrew A. Dean upon the
subject of religion. Read that letter and then say that the writer
of it was an "old remnant of mortality, drunk, bloated and half
asleep." Search the files of the New York Observer from the first
issue to the last, and you will find nothing superior to this

In 1803 Mr. Paine wrote a letter of considerable length, and
of great force, to his friend Samuel Adams. Such letters are not
written by drunken beasts, nor by remnants of old mortality, nor by
drunkards. It was about the same time that he wrote his "Remarks on
Robert Hall's Sermons."

These "Remarks" were not written by a drunken beast, but by a
clear-headed and thoughtful man.

In 1804 he published an essay on the invasion of England, and
a treatise on gunboats, full of valuable maritime information: --
in 1805, a treatise on yellow fever, suggesting modes of
prevention. In short, he was an industrious and thoughtful man. He
sympathized with the poor and oppressed of all lands. He looked

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


upon monarchy as a species of physical slavery. He had the goodness
to attack that form of government. He regarded the religion of his
day as a kind of mental slavery. He had the courage to give his
reasons for his opinion. His reasons filled the churches with
hatred. Instead of answering his arguments they attacked him. Men
who were not fit to blacken his shoes, blackened his character.
There is too much religious cant in the statement of Mr. Thorburn.
He exhibited too much anxiety to tell what Grant Thorburn said to
Thomas Paine. He names Thomas Jefferson as one of the disreputable
men who welcomed Paine with open arms. The testimony of a man who
regarded Thomas Jefferson as a disreputable person, as to the
character of anybody, is utterly without value. In my judgment, the
testimony of Mr. Thorburn should be thrown aside as wholly unworthy
of belief.

Your next witness is the Rev. J.D. Wickham, D.D., who tells
what an elder in his church said. This elder said that Paine passed
his last days on his farm at New Rochelle with a solitary female
attendant. This is not true. He did not pass his last days at New
Rochelle. Consequently this pious elder did not see him during his
last days at that place. Upon this elder we prove an alibi. Mr.
Paine passed his last days in the city of New York, in a house upon
Columbia street. The story of the Rev. J.D. Wickham, D.D., is
simply false.

The next competent false witness is the Rev. Charles Hawley,
D.D., who proceeds to state that the story of the Rev. J.D.
Wickham, D.D., is corroborated by older citizens of New Rochelle.
The names of these ancient residents are withheld. According to
these unknown witnesses, the account given by the deceased elder
was entirely correct. But as the particulars of Mr. Paine's conduct
"were too loathsome to be described in print," we are left entirely
in the dark as to what he really did.

While at New Rochelle Mr. Paine lived with Mr. Purdy -- with
Mr. Dean -- with Captain Pelton, and with Mr. Staple. It is worthy
of note that all of these gentlemen give the lie direct to the
statements of "older residents" and ancient citizens spoken of by
the Rev. Charles Hawley, D.D., and leave him with his "loathsome
particulars" existing only in his own mind.

The next gentleman you bring upon the stand is W.H. Ladd, who
quotes from the memoirs of Stephen Grellet. This gentleman also has
the misfortune to be dead. According to his account, Mr. Paine made
his recantation to a servant girl of his by the name of Mary
Roscoe. To this girl, according to the account, Mr. Paine uttered
the wish that all who read his book had burned it. I believe there
is a mistake in the name of this girl. Her name was probably Mary
Hinsdale, as it was once claimed that Paine made the same remark to
her, but this point I shall notice hereafter. These are your
witnesses, and the only ones you bring forward, to support your
charge that Thomas Paine lived a drunken and beastly life and died
a drunken, cowardly and beastly death. All these calumnies are
found in a life of Paine by a Mr. Cheetham, the convicted libeler
already referred to. Mr. Cheetham was an enemy of the man whose
life he pretended to write.

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


In order to show you the estimation in which Mr. Cheetham was
held by Mr. Paine, I will give you a copy of a letter that throws
light upon this point:

October 28, 1807.

"Mr. Cheetham: Unless you make a public apology for the abuse
and falsehood in your paper of Tuesday, October 27th, respecting
me, I will prosecute you for lying."

Thomas Paine.

In another letter, speaking of this same man, Mr. Paine says:
"If an unprincipled bully cannot be reformed, he can be punished."
" Cheetham has been so long in the habit of giving false
information, that truth is to him like a foreign language." Mr.
Cheetham wrote the life of Paine to gratify his malice and to
support religion. He was prosecuted for libel -- was convicted and

Yet the life of Paine written by this man is referred to by
the Christian world as the highest authority.

As to the personal habits of Mr. Paine, we have the testimony
of William Carver, with whom he lived; of Mr. Jarvis, the artist,
with whom he lived; of Mr. Staple, with whom he lived; of Mr.
Purdy, who was a tenant of Paine's; of Mr. Burger, with whom he was
intimate; of Thomas Nixon and Captain Daniel Pelton, both of whom
knew him well; of Amasa Woodsworth, who was with him when he died;
of John Fellows, who boarded at the same house; of James Wilburn,
with whom he boarded; of B. F. Haskin, a lawyer, who was well
acquainted with him and called upon him during his last illness; of
Walter Morton, a friend; of Clio Rickman, who had known him for
many years; of Willet and Elias Hicks, Quakers, who knew him
intimately and well; of Judge Herttell H. Margary, Elihu Palmer,
and many others. All these testified to the fact that Mr. Paine was
a temperate man. In those days nearly everybody used spirituous
liquors. Paine was not an exception; but he did not drink to
excess. Mr. Lovett, who kept the City Hotel where Paine stopped, in
a note to Caleb Bingham, declared that Paine drank less than any
boarder he had.

Against all this evidence you produce the story of Grant
Thorburn -- the story of the Rev. J.D. Wickham that an elder in his
church told him that Paine was a drunkard, corroborated by the Rev.
Charles Hawley, and an extract from Lossing's history to, the same
effect. The evidence is overwhelmingly against you. Will you have
the fairness to admit it? Your witnesses are merely the repeaters
of the falsehoods of James Cheetham. the convicted libeler.

After all, drinking is not as bad as lying. An honest drunkard
is better than a calumniator of the dead. "A remnant of old
mortality, drunk, bloated and half asleep" is better than a
perfectly sober defender of human slavery.

To become drunk is a virtue compared with stealing a babe from
the breast of its mother.

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


Drunkenness is one of the beatitudes, compared with editing a
religious paper devoted to the defence of slavery upon the ground
that it is a divine institution.

Do you really think that Paine was a drunken beast when he
wrote "Common Sense" -- a pamphlet that aroused three millions of
people, as people were never aroused by a pamphlet before? Was he
a drunken beast when he wrote the "Crisis"? Was it to a drunken
beast that the following letter was addressed:

Rocky Hill, September 10. 1783.

"I have learned since I have been at this place, that you are
at Bordentown. -- Whether for the sake of retirement or economy I
know not. Be it for either or both, or whatever it may, if you will
come to this place and partake with me I shall be exceedingly happy
to see you at it. Your presence may remind Congress of your past
services to this country; and if it is in my power to impress them,
command my best exertions with freedom, as they will be rendered
cheerfully by one who entertains a lively sense of the importance
of your works, and who with much pleasure subscribes himself,"

Your Sincere Friend,

George Washington.

Did any of your ancestors ever receive a letter like that?

Do you think that Paine was a drunken beast when the following
letter was received by him?

"You express a wish in your letter to return to America in a
national ship; Mr. Dawson, who brings over the treaty, and who will
present you with this letter, is charged with orders to the captain
of the Maryland to receive and accommodate you back, if you can be
ready to depart at such a short warning. you will in general find
us returned to sentiments worthy of former times; in this it will
be your glory to have steadily labored and with as much effect as
any man living. That you may live long to continue your useful
labors, and reap the reward in the thankfulness of nations, is my
sincere prayer. Accept the assurances of my high esteem and
affectionate attachment."

Thomas Jefferson.

Did any of your ancestors ever receive a letter like that?

"It has been very generally propagated through the continent
that I wrote the pamphlet 'Common Sense.' I could not have written
anything in so manly and striking a style. -- John Adams.

"A few more such flaming arguments as were exhibited at
Falmouth and Norfolk, added to the sound doctrine and unanswerable
reasoning contained in the pamphlet 'Common Sense,' will not leave
numbers at a loss to decide on the propriety of a separation." --
George Washington.

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


"It is not necessary 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 forgotten 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 trust 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 defender of public liberty. To the welfare of Thomas Paine the
Americans are not, nor can they be indifferent." James Monroe.

Did any of your ancestors ever receive a letter like that?

"No writer has exceeded Paine in ease and familiarity of
style, in perspicuity of expression, happiness of elucidation, and
in simple and unassuming language." -- Thomas Jefferson.

Was ever a letter like that written about an editor of the New
York Observer?

Was it in consideration of the services of a drunken beast
that the Legislature of Pennsylvania presented Thomas Paine with
five hundred pounds sterling?

Did the State of New York feel indebted to a drunken beast,
and confer upon Thomas Paine an estate of several hundred acres?

"I believe in the equality of man, and I believe that
religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and
endeavoring to make our fellow-creatures happy."

"My own mind is my own church."

"It is necessary to the happiness of man that he be mentally
faithful to himself."

"Any system of religion that shocks the mind of a child cannot
be a true system."

"The Word of God is the creation which we behold."

"The age of ignorance commenced with the Christian system."

"It is with a pious fraud as with a bad action -- it begets a
calamitous necessity of going on."

"To read the Bible without horror, we must undo everything
that is tender, sympathizing and benevolent in the heart of man."

"The man does not exist who can say I have persecuted him, or
that I have in any case returned evil for evil."

"Of all tyrannies that afflict mankind, tyranny in religion is
the worst."

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


"My own opinion is, that those whose lives have been spent in
doing good and endeavoring to make their fellow-mortals happy, will
be happy hereafter."

"The belief in a cruel god makes a cruel man."

"The intellectual part of religion is a private affair between
every man and his Maker, and in which no third party has any right
to interfere. The practical part consists in our doing good to each

"No man ought to make a living by religion. One person cannot
act religion for another -- every person must perform it for

"One good schoolmaster is of more use than a hundred priests."

"Let us propagate morality unfettered by superstition."

"God is the power, or first cause, Nature is the law, and
matter is the subject acted upon."

"I believe in one God and no more, and I hope for happiness
beyond this life."

"The key of heaven is not in the keeping of any sect nor ought
the road to it to be obstructed by any."

"My religion, and the whole of it, is the fear and love of the
Deity and universal philanthropy."

"I have yet, I believe, some years in store, for I have a good
state of health and a happy mind. I take care of both, by
nourishing the first with temperance and the latter with

"He lives immured within the Bastille of a word."

How perfectly that sentence describes you: The Bastille in
which you are immured is the word "Calvinism."

"Man has no property in man."

What a splendid motto that would have made for the New York
Observer in the olden time!

"The world is my country; to do good, my religion."

I ask you again whether these splendid utterances came from
the lips of a drunken beast?

Did Thomas Paine die in destitution and want?

The charge has been made, over and over again, that Thomas
Paine died in want and destitution -- that he was an abandoned
pauper -- an outcast without friends and without money. This charge
is just as false as the rest.

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


Upon his return to this country in 1802, he was worth $30.000,
according to his own statement made at that time in the following
letter addressed to Clio Rickman:

"My Dear Friend: Mr. Monroe, who is appointed minister
extraordinary to France, takes charge of this, to be delivered to
Mr. Este, banker in Paris, to be forwarded to you.

"I arrived at Baltimore the 30th of October, and you can have
no idea of the agitation which my arrival occasioned. From New
Hampshire to Georgia (an extent of 1,500 miles) every newspaper was
filled with applause or abuse.

"My property in this country has been taken care of by my
friends, and is now worth six thousand pounds sterling; which put
in the funds will bring me 400 sterling a year.

"Remember me in affection and friendship to your wife and
family, and in the circle of your friends."

Thomas Paine.

A man in those days worth thirty thousand dollars was not a
pauper. That amount would bring an income of at least two thousand
dollars per annum. Two thousand dollars then would be fully equal
to five thousand dollars now.

On the 12th of July, 1809, the year in which he died, Mr.
Paine made his will. From this instrument we learn that he was the
owner of a valuable farm within twenty miles of New York. He also
was the owner of thirty shares in the New York Phoenix Insurance
Company, worth upwards of fifteen hundred dollars. Besides this,
some personal property and ready money. By his will he gave to
Walter Morton, and Thomas Addis Emmett, brother of Robert Emmett,
two hundred dollars each, and one hundred to the widow of Elihu

Is it possible that this will was made by a pauper -- by a
destitute outcast -- by a man who suffered for the ordinary
necessaries of life?

But suppose, for the sake of the argument, that he was poor
and that he died a beggar, does that tend to show that the Bible is
an inspired book and that Calvin did not burn Servetus? Do you
really regard poverty as a crime? If Paine had died a millionaire,
would you have accepted his religious opinions? If Paine had drank
nothing but cold water would you, have repudiated the five cardinal
points of Calvinism? Does an argument depend for its force upon the
pecuniary condition of the person making it? As a matter of fact,
most reformers -- most men and women of genius, have been
acquainted with poverty. Beneath a covering of rags have been found
some of the tenderest and bravest hearts.

Owing to the attitude of the churches for the last fifteen
hundred years, truth-telling has not been a very lucrative
business. As a rule. hypocrisy has worn the robes, and honesty the
rags. That day is passing away. You cannot now answer the arguments
of a man by pointing at holes in his coat. Thomas Paine attacked

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


the church when it was powerful -- when it had what was called
honors to bestow -- when it was the keeper of the public conscience
-- when it was strong and cruel. The church waited till he was dead
then attacked his reputation and his clothes.

Once upon a time a donkey kicked a lion. The lion was dead.


From the persistence with which the orthodox have charged for
the last sixty-eight years that Thomas Paine recanted, and that
when dying he was filled with remorse and fear; from the malignity
of the attacks upon his personal character, I had concluded that
there must be some evidence of some kind to support these charges.
Even with my ideas of the average honor of believers in
superstition -- the disciples of fear -- I did not quite believe
that all these infamies rested solely upon poorly attested lies. I
had charity enough to suppose that something had been said or done
by Thomas Paine capable of being tortured into a foundation for
these calumnies. And I was foolish enough to think that even you
would be willing to fairly examine the pretended evidence said to
sustain these charges, and give your honest conclusion to the
world. I supposed that you, being acquainted with the history of
your country: felt under a certain obligation to Thomas Paine for
the splendid services rendered by him in the darkest days of the
Revolution. It was only reasonable to suppose that you were aware
that in the midnight of Valley Forge the "Crisis," by Thomas Paine,
was the first star that glittered in the wide horizon of despair.
I took it for granted that you knew of the bold stand taken and the
brave words spoken by Thomas Paine, in the French Convention,
against the death of the king. I thought it probable that you,
being an editor, had read the "Rights of Man;" that you knew that
Thomas Paine was a champion of human liberty; that he was one of
the founders and fathers of this Republic; that he was one of the
foremost men of his age; that he had never written a word in favor
of injustice; that he was a despiser of slavery; that he abhorred
tyranny in all its forms; that he was in the widest and highest
sense a friend of his race; that his head was as clear as his heart
was good, and that he had the courage to speak his honest thought.
Under these circumstances I had hoped that you would for the moment
forget your religious prejudices and submit to the enlightened
judgment of the world the evidence you had, or could obtain,
affecting in any way the character of so great and so generous a
man. This you have refused to do. ln my judgment, you have mistaken
the temper of even your own readers. A large majority of the
religious people of this country have, to a considerable extent,
outgrown the prejudices of their fathers. They are willing to know
the truth and the whole truth, about the life and death of Thomas
Paine. They will not thank you for having presented them the
moss-covered, the maimed and distorted traditions of ignorance,
prejudice, and credulity. By this course you will convince them not
of the wickedness of Paine, but of your own unfairness.

What crime had Thomas Paine committed that he should have
feared to die? The only answer you can give is, that he denied the
inspiration of the Scriptures. If this is a crime, the civilized
world is filled with criminals. The pioneers of human thought --

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


the intellectual leaders of the world -- the foremost men in every
science -- the kings of literature and art -- those who stand in
the front rank of investigation -- men who are civilizing,
elevating, instructing, and refining mankind, are to-day
unbelievers in the dogma of inspiration. Upon this question, the
intellect of Christendom agrees with the conclusions reached by the
genius of Thomas Paine. Centuries ago a noise was made for the
purpose of frightening mankind. Orthodoxy is the echo of that

The man who now regards the Old Testament as in any sense a
sacred or inspired book is, in my judgment, an intellectual and
moral deformity. There is in it so much that is cruel, ignorant,
and ferocious that it is to me a matter of amazement that it was
ever thought to be the work of a most merciful deity. Upon the
question of inspiration Thomas Paine gave his honest opinion. Can
it be that to give an honest opinion. causes one to die in terror
and despair? Have you in your writings been actuated by the fear of
such a consequence? Why should it be taken for granted that Thomas
Paine, who devoted his life to the sacred cause of freedom, should
have been hissed at in the hour of death by the snakes of
conscience, while editors of Presbyterian papers who defended
slavery as a divine institution. and cheerfully justified the
stealing of babes from the breasts of mothers, are supposed to have
passed smilingly from earth to the embraces of angels? Why should
you think that the heroic author of the "Rights of Man" should
shudderingly dread to leave this "bank and shoal of time," while
Calvin, dripping with the blood of Servetus, was anxious to be
judged of God? Is it possible that the persecutors -- the
instigators of the massacre of St. Bartholomew -- the inventors and
users of thumb-screws, and iron boots, and racks -- the burners and
tearers of human flesh -- the stealers, whippers and enslavers of
men -- the buyers and beaters of babes and mothers -- the founders
of inquisitions -- the makers of chains, the builders of dungeons,
the slanderers of the living and the calumniators of the dead, all
died in the odor of sanctity. with white, forgiven hands folded
upon the breasts of peace, while the destroyers of prejudice -- the
apostles of humanity -- the soldiers of liberty -- the breakers of
fetters -- the creators of light -- died surrounded with the fierce
fiends of fear?

In your attempt to destroy the character of Thomas Paine you
have failed, and have succeeded only in leaving a stain upon your
own. You have written words as cruel, bitter and heartless as the
creed of Calvin. Hereafter you will stand in the pillory of history
as a defamer -- a calumniator of the dead. You will be known as the
man who said that Thomas Paine. the "Author Hero," lived a drunken,
cowardly and beastly life, and died a drunken and beastly death.
These infamous words will be branded upon the forehead of your
reputation. They will be remembered against you when all else you
may have uttered shall have passed from the memory of men.

Robert G. Ingersoll.

In the Observer of September 27th, in response to numerous
calls from different parts of the country for information, and in
fulfillment of a promise, we presented a mass of testimony, chiefly

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


from persons with whom we had been personally acquainted,
establishing the truth of our assertions in regard to the dissolute
life and miserable end of Paine. It was not a pleasing subject for
discussion, and an apology, or at least an explanation, is due to
our readers for resuming it, and for occupying so much space, or
any space, in exhibiting the truth and the proofs in regard to the
character of a man who had become so debased by his intemperance,
and so vile in his habits, as to be excluded, for many years before
and up to the time of his death, from all decent society.

Our reasons for taking up the subject at all, and for
presenting at this time so much additional testimony in regard to
the facts of the case, are these: At different periods for the last
fifty years, efforts have been made by Infidels to revive and honor
the memory of one whose friends would honor him most by suffering
his name to sink into oblivion, if that were possible. About two
years since, Rev. O. B. Frothingham, of this city, came to their
aid, and undertook a sort of championship of Paine, making in a
public discourse this statement: "No private character has been
more foully calumniated in the name of God than that of Thomas
Paine." (Mr. Frothingham, it will be remembered, is the one who
recently, in a public discourse, announced the downfall of
Christianity, although he very kindly made the allowance that, "it
may be a thousand years before its decay will be visible to all
eyes." It is our private opinion that it will be at least a
thousand and one.) Rev. John W. Chadwick, a minister of the same
order of unbelief, who signs himself, "Minister of the Second
Unitarian Society in Brooklyn," has devoted two discourses to the
same end, eulogizing Paine. In one of these, which we have before
us in a handsomely printed pamphlet, entitled, "Method and Value of
his (Paine's) Religious Teachings," he says: "Christian usage has
determined that an Infidel means one who does not believe in
Christianity as a supernatural religion; in the Bible as a
supernatural book; in Jesus as a supernatural person. And in this
sense Paine was an Infidel, and so, thank God, am I." It is proper
to add that Unitarians generally decline all responsibility for the
utterances of both of these men, and that they compose a
denomination, or rather two denominations, of their own.

There is also a certain class of Infidels who are not quite
prepared to meet the odium that attaches to the name; they call
themselves Christians, but their sympathies are all with the
enemies of Christianity, and they are not always able to conceal
it. They have not the courage of their opinions. like Mr.
Frothingham and Mr. Chadwick, and they work only sideways toward
the same end. We have been no little amused since our last article
on this subject appeared, to read some of the articles that have
been written on the other side, though professedly on no side, and
to observe how sincerely these men deprecate the discussion of the
character of Paine, as an unprofitable topic. It never appeared to
them unprofitable when the discussion was on the other side.

Then, too, we have for months past been receiving letters from
different parts of the country, asking authentic information on the
subject and stating that the followers of Paine are making
extraordinary efforts to circulate his writings against the
Christian religion and in order to give currency to these writings

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


they are endeavoring to rescue his name from the disgrace into
which it sank during the latter years of his life. Paine spent
several of his last years in furnishing a commentary upon his
Infidel principles. This commentary was contained in his besotted,
degraded life and miserable end, but his friends do not wish the
commentary to go out in connection with his writings. They prefer
to have them read without the comments by their author. Hence this
anxiety to free the great apostle of Infidelity from the obloquy
which his life brought upon his name; to represent him as a pure,
noble, virtuous man, and to make it appear that he died a peaceful,
happy death, just like a philosopher.

But what makes the publication of the facts in the case still
more imperative at this time is the wholesale accusation brought
against the Christian public by the friends and admirers of Paine.
Christian ministers as a class, and Christian journals are
expressly accused of falsifying history, of defaming "the mighty
dead!" (meaning Paine,) &c., &c. In the face of all these
accusations it cannot be out of place to state the facts and to
fortify the statement by satisfactory evidence, as we are
abundantly able to do.

The two points on which we proposed to produce the testimony
are, the character of Paine's life (referring of course to his last
residence in this country, for no one has intimated that he had
sunk into such besotted drunkenness until about the time of his
return to the United States in 1802), and the real character of his
death as consistent with such a life, and as marked further by the
cowardliness, which has been often exhibited by Infidels in the
same circumstances.

It is nothing at all to the purpose to show, as his friends
are fond of doing, that Paine rendered important service to the
cause of American Independence. This is not the point under
discussion and is not denied. No one ever called in question the
valuable service that Benedict Arnold rendered to the country in
the early part of the Revolutionary war; but this, with true
Americans, does not suffice to cast a shade of loveliness or even
to spread a mantle of charity over his subsequent career. Whatever
share Paine had in the personal friendship of the fathers of the
Revolution he forfeited by his subsequent life of beastly
drunkenness and degradation, and on this account as well as on
account of his blasphemy he was shunned by all decent people.

We wish to make one or two corrections of misstatements by
Paine's advocates, on which a vast amount of argument has been
simply wasted. We have never stated in any form, nor have we ever
supposed, that Paine actually renounced his Infidelity. The
accounts agree in stating that he died a blaspheming Infidel, and
his horrible death we regard as one of the fruits, the fitting
complement of his Infidelity. We have never seen anything that
encouraged the hope that he was not abandoned of God in his last
hours. But we have no doubt, on the other hand, that having become
a wreck in body and mind through his intemperance, abandoned of
God, deserted by his Infidel companions, and dependent upon
Christian charity for the attentions he received, miserable beyond
description in his condition, and seeing nothing to hope for in the

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


future, he was afraid to die, and was ready to call upon God and
upon Christ for mercy, and ready perhaps in the next minute to
blaspheme. This is what we referred to in speaking of Paine's death
as cowardly. It is shown in the testimony we have produced, and
still more fully in that which we now present. The most wicked men
are ready to call upon God in seasons of great peril, and sometimes
ask for Christian ministrations when in extreme illness; but they
are often ready on any alleviation of distress to turn to their
wickedness again, in the expressive language of Scripture, "as the
sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire."

We have never stated or intimated, nor, so far as we are
aware, has any one of our correspondents stated, that Paine died in
poverty. It has been frequently and truthfully stated that Paine
was dependent on Christian charity for the attentions he received
in his last days, and so he was. His Infidel companions forsook him
and Christian hearts and hands ministered to his wants,
notwithstanding the blasphemies of his death-bed.

Nor has one of our correspondents stated, as alleged, that
Paine died at New Rochelle. The Rev. Dr. Wickham, who was a
resident of that place nearly fifty years ago, and who was
perfectly familiar with the facts of his life, wrote that Paine
spent "his latter days" on the farm presented to him by the State
of New York, which was strictly true, but made no reference to it
as the place of his death.

Such misrepresentations serve to show how much the advocates
of Paine admire "truth."

With these explanations we produce further evidence in regard
to the manner of Paine's life and the character of his death, both
of which we have already characterized in appropriate terms, as the
following testimony will show.

In regard to Paine's "personal habits," even before his return
to this country, and particularly his aversion to soap and water,
Elkana Watson, a gentleman of the highest social position, who
resided in France during a part of the Revolutionary war, and who
was the personal friend of Washington, Franklin, and other patriots
of the period, makes some incidental statements in his "Men and
Times of the Revolution." Though eulogizing Paine's efforts in
behalf of American Independence, he describes him as "coarse and
uncouth in his manners, loathsome in his appearance, and a
disgusting egotist." On Paine's arrival at Nantes, the Mayor and
other distinguished citizens called upon him to pay their respects
to the American patriot. Mr. Watson says: "He was soon rid of his
respectable visitors. who left the room with marks of astonishment
and disgust." Mr. W., after much entreaty, and only by promising
him a bundle of newspapers to read while undergoing the operation,
succeeded in prevailing on Paine to "stew, for an hour, in a hot
bath." Mr. W. accompanied Paine to the bath, and "instructed the
keeper, in French, (which Paine did not understand,) gradually to
increase the heat of the water until 'le Monsieur serait bien
bouille' (until the gentleman shall be well boiled;) and adds that
"he became so much absorbed in his reading that he was nearly
parboiled before leaving the bath, much to his improvement and my

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


William Carver has been cited as a witness in behalf of Paine,
and particularly as to his "personal habits." In a letter to Paine,
dated December 2, 1776, he bears the following testimony:

"A respectable gentleman from New Rochelle called to see me a
few days back, and said that everybody was tired of you there, and
no one would undertake to board and lodge you. I thought this was
the case, as I found you at a tavern in a most miserable situation.
You appeared as if you had not been shaved for a fortnight, and as
to a shirt, it could not be said that you had one on. It was only
the remains of one, and this, likewise, appeared not to have been
off your back for a fortnight, and was nearly the color of tanned
leather; and you had the most disagreeable smell possible; just
like that of our poor beggars in England. Do you remember the pains
I took to clean you? that I got a tub of warm water and soap and
washed you from head to foot, and this I had to do three times
before I could get you clean." (And then follow more disgusting

"You say, also, that you found your own liquors during the
time you boarded with me; but you should have said, 'I found only
a small part of the liquor I drank during my stay with you; this
part I purchased of John Fellows, which was a demijohn of brandy
containing four gallons, and this did not serve me three weeks.'
This can be proved, and I mean not to say anything that I cannot
prove; for I hold truth as a precious jewel. It is a well-known
fact, that you drank one quart of brandy per day, at my expense,
during the different times that you have boarded with me, the
demijohn above mentioned excepted, and the last fourteen weeks you
were sick. Is not this a supply of liquor for dinner and supper?"

This chosen witness in behalf of Paine, closes his letter,
which is full of loathsome descriptions of Paine's manner of life,
as follows:

"Now, sir, I think I have drawn a complete portrait of your
character; yet to enter upon every minutiae would be to give a
history of your life, and to develop the fallacious mask of
hypocrisy and deception under which you have acted in your
political as well as moral capacity of life."

(Signed)  "William Carver."

Carver had the same opinion of Paine to his dying day. When an
old man, and an Infidel of the Paine type and habits, he was
visited by the Rev. E. F. Hatfield, D.D., of this city, who writes
to us of his interview with Carver, under date of Sept. 27, 1877:

"I conversed with him nearly an hour, I took special pains to
learn from him all that I could about Paine, whose landlord he had
been for eighteen months. He spoke of him as a base and shameless
drunkard, utterly destitute of moral principle. His denunciations
of the man were perfectly fearful, and fully confirmed, in my
apprehension, all that had been written of Paine's immorality and

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


Cheetham's Life of Paine, which was published the year that he
died, and which has passed through several editions (we have three
of them now before us) describes a man lost to all moral
sensibility and to all sense of decency, a habitual drunkard, and
it is simply incredible that a book should have appeared so soon
after the death of its subject and should have been so frequently
republished without being at once refuted, if the testimony were
not substantially true. Many years later, when it was found
necessary to bolster up the reputation of Paine, Cheetham's Memoirs
were called a pack of lies. If only one-tenth part of what he
publishes circumstantially in his volume, as facts in regard to
Paine, were true, all that has been written against him in later
years does not begin to set forth the degraded character of the
man's life. And with all that has been written on the subject we
see no good reason to doubt the substantial accuracy of Cheetham's
portrait of the man whom he knew so well.

Dr. J.W. Francis. well-known as an eminent physician, of this
city, in his Reminiscences of New York, says of Paine:

"He who, in his early days, had been associated with, and had
received counsel from Franklin, was, in his old age, deserted by
the humblest menial; he, whose pen has proved a very sword among
nations, had shaken empires. and made kings tremble, now yielded up
the mastery to the most treacherous of tyrants, King Alcohol"

The physician who attended Paine during his last illness was
Dr. James R. Manley, a gentleman of the highest character. A letter
of his, written in October of the year that Paine died, fully
corroborates the account of his state as recorded by Stephen
Grellet in his Memoirs, which we have already printed. He writes:

"New York, October 2, 1809: I was called upon by accident to
visit Mr. Paine, on the 23th of February last, and found him
indisposed with fever, and very apprehensive of an attack of
apoplexy, as he stated that he had that disease before, and at this
time felt a great degree of vertigo, and was unable to help himself
as he had hitherto done, on account of an intense pain above the
eyes. On inquiry of the attendants I was told that three or four
days previously he had concluded to dispense with his usual
quantity of accustomed stimulus and that he had on that day resumed
it. To the want of his usual drink they attributed his illness, and
it is highly probable that the usual quantity operating upon a
state of system more excited from the above privations, was the
cause of the symptoms of which he then complained.... And here let
me be permitted to observe (lest blame might attach to those whose
business it was to pay any particular attention to his cleanliness
of person) that it was absolutely impossible to effect that
purpose. Cleanliness appeared to make no part of his comfort; he
seemed to have a singular aversion to soap and water; he would
never ask to be washed, and when he was he would always make
objections; and it was not unusual to wash and to dress him clean
very much against his inclinations. In this deplorable state, with
confirmed dropsy, attended with frequent cough, vomiting and
hiccough, he continued growing from bad to worse till the morning
of the 8th of June, when he died. Though I may remark that during
he last three weeks of his life his situation was such that his

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


decease was confidently expected every day, his ulcers having
assumed a gangrenous appearance, being excessively fetid, and
discolored blisters having taken place on the soles of his feet
without any ostensible cause, which baffled the usual attempts to
arrest their progress; and when we consider his former habits, his
advanced age, the feebleness of his constitution, his constant
habit of using ardent spirits ad libitum till the commencement of
his last illness, so far from wondering that he died so soon, we
are constrained to ask, How did he live so long? Concerning his
conduct during his disease I have not much to remark, though the
little I have may be somewhat interesting. Mr. Paine professed to
be above the fear of death, and a great part of his conversation
was principally directed to give the impression that he was
perfectly willing to leave this world, and yet some parts of his
conduct were with difficulty reconcilable with his belief. In the
first stages of his illness he was satisfied to be left alone
during the day, but he required some person to be with him at
night, urging as his reason that he was afraid that he should die
when unattended, and at this period his deportment and his
principle seemed to be consistent; so much so that a stranger would
judge from some of the remarks he would make that he was an
Infidel. I recollect being with him at night, watching; he was very
apprehensive of a speedy dissolution, and suffered great distress
of body, and perhaps of mind (for he was waiting the event of an
application to the Society of Friends for permission that his
corpse might be deposited in their grave-ground, and had reason to
believe that the request might be refused), when he remarked in
these words, 'I think I can say what they made Jesus Christ to say
-- "My God, my God! why hast thou forsaken me? "He went on to
observe on the want of that respect which he conceived he merited,
when I observed to him that I thought his corpse should be matter
of least concern to him; that those whom he would leave behind him
would see that he was properly interred, and, further, that it
would be of little consequence to me where I was deposited provided
I was buried; upon which he answered that he had nothing else to
talk about. and that he would as lief talk of his death as of
anything, but that he was not so indifferent about his corpse as I
appeared to be.

"During the latter part of his life, though his conversation
was equivocal, his conduct was singular; he could not be left alone
night or day; he not only required to have some person with him,
but he must see that he or she was there, and would not allow his
curtain to be closed at any time; and if, as it would sometimes
unavoidably happen, he was left alone, he would scream and halloo
until some person came to him. When relief from pain would admit,
he seemed thoughtful and contemplative, his eyes being generally
closed, and his hands folded upon his breast, although he never
slept without the assistance of an anodyne. There was something
remarkable in his conduct about this period (which comprises about
two weeks immediately preceding his death), particularly when we
reflect that Thomas Paine was the author of the 'Age of Reason.' He
would call out during his paroxysms of distress, without
intermission, 'O Lord help me! God help me! Jesus Christ help me!
Lord help me! ' etc., repeating the same expressions without the
least variation, in a tone of voice that would alarm the house. It
was this conduct which induced me to think that he had abandoned

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


his former opinions, and I was more inclined to that belief when I
understood from his nurse (who is a very serious and, I believe,
pious woman), that he would occasionally inquire, when he saw her
engaged with a book, what she was reading. and, being answered, and
at the same time asked whether she should read aloud, he assented,
and would appear to give particular attention.

"I took occasion during the nights of the fifth and sixth of
June to test the strength of his opinions respecting revelation. I
purposely made him a very late visit; it was a time which seemed to
suit exactly with my errand; it was midnight, he was in great:
distress, constantly exclaiming in the words above mentioned, when,
after a considerable preface, I addressed him in the following
manner, the nurse being present: 'Mr. Paine, your opinions, by a
large portion of the community, have been treated with deference,
you have never been in the habit of mixing in your conversation
words of coarse meaning; you have never indulged in the practice of
profane swearing; you must be sensible that we are acquainted with
your religious opinions as they are given to the world. What must
we think of your present conduct'? Why do you call upon Jesus
Christ to help you? Do you believe that he can help you? Do you
believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ? Come, now, answer me
honestly. I want an answer from the lips of a dying man, for I
verily believe that you will not live twenty-four hours.' I waited
some time at the end of every question; he did not answer, but
ceased to exclaim in the above manner. Again I addressed him; 'Mr.
Paine, you have not answered my questions; will you answer them?
Allow me to ask again, do you believe? or let me qualify the
question, do you wish to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of
God?' After a pause of some minutes, he answered, 'I have no wish
to believe on that subject.' I then left him, and knew not whether
he afterward spoke to any person on any subject, though he lived,
as I before observed, till the morning of the 8th. Such conduct,
under usual circumstances, I conceive absolutely unaccountable,
though, with diffidence, I would remark, not so much so in the
present instance; for though the first necessary and general result
of conviction be a sincere wish to atone for evil committed, yet it
may be a question worthy of able consideration whether excessive
pride of opinion, consummate vanity, and inordinate self-love might
not prevent or retard that otherwise natural consequence. For my
own part, I believe that had not Thomas Paine been such a
distinguished Infidel he would have left less equivocal evidences
of a change of opinion. Concerning the persons who visited Mr.
Paine in his distress as his personal friends, I heard very little,
though I may observe that their number was small, and of that
number there were not wanting those who endeavored to support him
in his deistical opinions, and to encourage him to 'die like a
man,' to 'hold fast his integrity.' lest Christians. or, as they
were pleased to term them, hypocrites, might take advantage of his
weakness, and furnish themselves with a weapon by which they might
hope to destroy their glorious system of morals. Numbers visited
him from motives of benevolence and Christian charity, endeavoring
to effect a change of mind in respect to his religious sentiments.
The labor of such was apparently lost, and they pretty generally
received such treatment from him as none but good men would risk a
second time, though some of those persons called frequently."

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


The following testimony will be new to most of our readers. It
is from a letter written by Bishop Fenwick (Roman Catholic Bishop
of Boston), containing a full account of a visit which he paid to
Paine in his last illness. It was printed in the United States
Catholic Magazine for 1846; in the Catholic Herald of Philadelphia,
October 15, 1846; in a supplement to the Hartford Courant, October
23, 1847; and in Littell's Living Age for January 22, 1848, from
which we copy. Bishop Fenwick writes:

"A short time before Paine died I was sent for by him. He was
prompted to this by a poor Catholic woman who went to see him in
his sickness, and who told him, among other things, that in his
wretched condition if anybody could do him any good it would be a
Roman Catholic priest. This woman was an American convert (formerly
a Shaking Quakeress) whom I had received into the church but a few
weeks before. She was the bearer of this message to me from Paine.
I stated this circumstance to F. Kohlmann, at breakfast, and
requested him to accompany me. After some solicitation on my part
he agreed to do so, at which I was greatly rejoiced, because I was
at the time quite young and inexperienced in the ministry, and was
glad to have his assistance, as I knew, from the great reputation
of Paine, that I should have to do with one of the most impious as
well as infamous of men. We shortly after set out for the house at
Greenwich where Paine lodged, and on the way agreed on a mode of
proceeding with him.

"We arrived at the house; a decent-looking elderly woman
(probably his housekeeper,) came to the door and inquired whether
we were the Catholic priests, for said she, 'Mr. Paine has been so
much annoyed of late by other denominations calling upon him that
he has left express orders with me to admit no one to-day but the
clergymen of the Catholic Church. Upon assuring her that we were
Catholic clergymen she opened the door and showed us into the
parlor. She then left the room and shortly after returned to inform
us that Paine was asleep, and, at the same time, expressed a wish
that we would not disturb him, 'for,' said she, 'he is always in a
bad humor when roused out of his sleep. It is better we wait a
little till he be awake.' We accordingly sat down and resolved to
await a more favorable moment. 'Gentlemen,'said the lady, after
having taken her seat also, 'I really wish you may succeed with Mr.
Paine, for he is laboring under great distress of mind ever since
he was informed by his physicians that he cannot possibly live and
must die shortly. He sent for you to-day because he was told that
if any one. could do him good you might. Possibly he may think you
know of some remedy which his physicians are ignorant of. He is
truly to be pitied. His cries when he is left alone are
heart-rending. 'O Lord help me! 'he will exclaim during his
paroxysms of distress -- 'God help me -- Jesus Christ help me!'
repeating the same expressions without the least variation, in a
tone of voice that would alarm the house. Sometimes he will say, 'O
God, what have I done to suffer so much! 'then, shortly after, 'But
there is no God,' and again a little after, 'Yet if there should
be, what would become of me hereafter.' Thus he will continue for
some time, when on a sudden he will scream, as if in terror and
agony, and call out for me by name. On one of these occasions,
which are very frequent, I went to him and inquired what he wanted.
'Stay with me,' he replied, 'for God's sake, for I cannot hear to

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


be left alone.' I then observed that I could not always be with
him, as I had much to attend to in the house. 'Then,' said he,
'send even a child to stay with me, for it is a hell to be alone.'
'I never saw,' she concluded, 'a more unhappy, a more forsaken man.
It seems he cannot reconcile himself to die.'

"Such was the conversation of the woman who had received us,
and who probably had been employed to nurse and take care of him
during his illness. She was a Protestant, yet seemed very desirous
that we should afford him some relief in his state of abandonment,
bordering on complete despair. Having remained thus some time in
the parlor, we at length heard a noise in the adjoining passage-
way, which induced us to believe that Mr. Paine, who was sick in
that room, had awoke. We accordingly proposed to proceed thither,
which was assented to by the woman, and she opened the door for us.
On entering, we found him just getting out of his slumber. A more
wretched being in appearance I never beheld. He was lying in a bed
sufficiently decent of itself, but at present besmeared with filth;
his look was that of a man greatly tortured in mind; his eyes
haggard, his countenance forbidding, and his whole appearance that
of one whose better days had been one continued scene of debauch.
His only nourishment at this time, as we were informed, was nothing
more than milk punch, in which he indulged to the full extent of
his weak state. He had partaken, undoubtedly, but very recently of
it, as the sides and corners of his mouth exhibited very
unequivocal traces of it, as well as of blood, which had also
followed in the track and left its mark on the pillow. His face, to
a certain extent, had also been besmeared with it."

Immediately upon their making known the object of their visit,
Paine interrupted the speaker by saying: "That's enough, sir;
that's enough," and again interrupting him, "I see what you would
be about. I wish to hear no more from you, sir. My mind is made up
on that subject. I look upon the whole of the Christian scheme to
be a tissue of absurdities and lies, and Jesus Christ to be nothing
more than a cunning knave and impostor." He drove them out of the
room, exclaiming: "Away with you and your God, too; leave the room
instantly; all that you have uttered are lies -- filthy 'lies; and
if I had a little more time I would prove it, as I did about your
impostor, Jesus Christ."

This, we think, will suffice. We have a mass of letters
containing statements confirmatory of what we have published in
regard to the life and death of Paine, but nothing more can be


Peoria, Nov. 2d, 1877.

To the Editor of the New York Observer:

You ought to have honesty enough to admit that you did, in
your paper of July 19th, offer to prove that the absurd story that
Thomas Paine died in terror and agony on account of the religious
opinions he had expressed, was true. You ought to have fairness
enough to admit that you called upon me to deposit one thousand

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


dollars with an honest man, that you might, by proving that Thomas
Paine did die in terror, obtain the money.

You ought to have honor enough to admit that you challenged me
and that you commenced the controversy concerning Thomas Paine.

You ought to have goodness enough to admit that you were
mistaken in the charges you made.

You ought to have manhood enough to do what you falsely
asserted that Thomas Paine did: -- you ought to recant. You ought
to admit publicly that you slandered the dead; that you falsified
history; that you defamed the defenseless; that you deliberately
denied what you had published in your own paper. There is an old
saying to the effect that open confession is good for the soul. To
you is presented a splendid opportunity of testing the truth of
this saying.

Nothing has astonished me more than your lack of common
honesty exhibited in this controversy. In your last, you quote from
Dr. J.W. Francis. Why did you leave out that portion in which Dr.
Francis says that Cheetham with settled malignity wrote the life of
Paine? Why did you leave out that part in which Dr. Francis says
that Cheetham in the same way" slandered Alexander Hamilton and
DeWitt Clinton? Is it your business to suppress the truth? Why did
you not publish the entire letter of Bishop Fenwick? Was it because
it proved beyond all cavil that Thomas Paine did not recant? Was it
because in the light of that letter Mary Roscoe, Mary Hinsdale and
Grant Thorburn appeared unworthy of belief? Dr. J.W. Francis says
in the same article from which you quoted, "Paine clung to his
Infidelity until the last moment of his life." Why did you not
publish that? It was the first line immediately above what you did
quote. You must have seen it. Why did you suppress it? A lawyer,
doing a thing of this character, is denominated a shyster. I do not
know the appropriate word to designate a theologian guilty of such
an act.

You brought forward three witnesses, pretending to have
personal knowledge about the life and death of Thomas Paine: Grant
Thorburn, Mary Roscoe and Mary Hinsdale. In my reply I took the
ground that Mary Roscoe and Mary Hinsdale must have been the same
person. I thought it impossible that Paine should have had a
conversation with Mary Roscoe, and then one precisely like it with
Mary Hinsdale. Acting upon this conviction, I proceeded to show
that the conversation never could have happened, that it was
absurdly false to say that Paine asked the opinion of a girl as to
his works who had never read but little of them. I then showed by
the testimony of William Cobbett, that he visited Mary Hinsdale in
1819, taking with him a statement concerning the recantation of
Paine, given him by Mr. Collins, and that upon being shown this
statement she said that "it was so long ago that she could not
speak positively to any part of the matter -- that she would not
say any part of the paper was true." At that time she knew nothing,
and remembered nothing. I also showed that she was a kind of
standing witness to prove that others recanted. Willett Hicks
denounced her as unworthy of belief.

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


To-day the following from the New York World was received,
showing that I was right in my conjecture:


To the Editor of the World:

Sir: I see by your paper that Bob Ingersoll discredits Mary
Hinsdale's story of the scenes which occurred at the death-bed of
Thomas Paine. No one who knew that good lady would for one moment
doubt her veracity or question her testimony. Both she and her
husband were Quaker preachers, and well known and respected
inhabitants of New York City. Ingersoll is right in his conjecture
that Mary Roscoe and Mary Hinsdale was the same person. Her maiden
name was Roscoe, and she married Henry Hinsdale. My mother was a
Roscoe, a niece of Mary Roscoe, and lived with her for some time.
I have heard her relate the story of Tom Paine's dying remorse, as
told her by her aunt, who was a witness to it. She says (in a
letter I have just received from her), "he (Tom Paine) suffered
fearfully from remorse, and renounced his Infidel principles,
calling on God to forgive him, and wishing his pamphlets and books
to be burned, saying he could not die in peace until it was done."

(Rev.) A.W. Cornell.

Harpersville, New York.

You will notice that the testimony of Mary Hinsdale has been
drawing interest since 1809, and has materially increased. If Paine
"suffered fearfully from remorse, renounced his Infidel opinions
and called on God to forgive him," it is hardly generous for the
Christian world to fasten the fangs of malice in the flesh of his

So Mary Roscoe was Mary Hinsdale, and as Mary Hinsdale has
been shown by her own admission to Mr. Cobbett to have known
nothing of the matter; and as Mary Hinsdale was not, according to
Willet Hicks, worthy of belief -- as she told a falsehood of the
same kind about Mary Lockwood, and was, according to Mr. Collins,
addicted to the use of opium -- this disposes of her and her

There remains upon the stand Grant Thorburn. Concerning this
witness, I received, yesterday, from the eminent biographer and
essayist, James Parton, the following episode:

Newburyport, Mass.

Col. R.G. Ingersoll:

Touching Grant Thorburn, I personally know him to have been a
dishonest man. At the age of ninety-two he copied, with trembling
hand, a piece from a newspaper and brought it to the office of the
Home Journal, as his own. It was I who received it and detected the
deliberate forgery. If you are ever going to continue this subject,
I will give you the exact facts.

Fervently yours,

James Parton.


After this, you are welcome to what remains of Grant Thorburn.

There is one thing that I have noticed during this controversy
regarding Thomas Paine. In no instance that I now call to mind has
any Christian writer spoken respectfully of Mr. Paine. All have
taken particular pains to call him "Tom" Paine. Is it not a little
strange that religion should make men so coarse and ill-mannered?

I have often wondered what these same gentlemen would say if
I should speak of the men eminent in the annals of Christianity in
the same way. What would they say if I should write about "Tim"
Dwight, old "Ad" Clark, "Tom" Scott, "Jim" McKnight,"Bill"
Hamilton,"Dick" Whately,"Bill" Paley, and "Jack" Calvin?

They would say of me then, Just what I think of them now.

Even if we have religion, do not let us try to get along
without good manners. Rudeness is exceedingly unbecoming, even in
a saint. Persons who forgive their enemies ought, to say the least,
to treat with politeness those who have never injured them.

It is exceedingly gratifying to me that I have compelled you
to say that "Paine died a blaspheming Infidel." Hereafter it is to
be hoped nothing will be heard about his having recanted. As an
answer to such slander his friends can confidently quote the
following from the New York Observer of November 1st, 1877:

"We have never stated in any form, nor have we ever supposed
that Paine actually renounced his Infidelity. The accounts agree in
stating that he died a blaspheming Infidel."

This for all coming time will refute the slanders of the
churches yet to be.

Right here allow me to ask: If you never supposed that Paine
renounced his Infidelity, why did you try to prove by Mary Hinsdale
that which you believed to be untrue?

from the bottom of my heart I thank myself for having
compelled you to admit that Thomas Paine did not recant.

For the purpose of verifying your own admission concerning the
death of Mr. Paine, permit me to call your attention to the
following affidavit:

Wabash, Indiana, October 27, 1877.

Col. R.G. Ingersoll:

Dear Sir: The following statement of facts is at your
disposal. In the year 1833 Willet Hicks made a visit to Indiana and
stayed over night at my father's house, four miles east of
Richmond. In the morning at breakfast my mother asked Willet Hicks
the following questions:

"Was thee with Thomas Paine during his last sickness?"

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


Mr. Hicks said: "I was with him every day during the latter
part of his last sickness."

"Did he express any regret in regard to writing the 'Age of
Reason,' as the published accounts say he did -- those accounts
that have the credit of emanating from his Catholic housekeeper?"

Mr. Hicks replied: "He did not in any way by word or action."

"Did he call on God or Jesus Christ, asking either of them to
forgive his sins, or did he curse them or either of them?"

Mr. Hicks answered: "He did not. He died as easy as any one I
ever saw die, and I have seen many die in my time."

William B. Barnes.

Subscribed and sworn to before me Oct. 27, 1877.

Warren Bigler, Notary Public.

You say in your last that "Thomas Paine was abandoned of God."
So far as this controversy is concerned, it seems to me that in
that sentence you have most graphically described your own

Wishing you success in all honest undertakings, I remain,

Yours truly.

Robert G. Ingersoll.

****     ****

Reproducible Electronic Publishing can defeat censorship.

The Bank of Wisdom Inc. is a collection of the most thoughtful,
scholarly and factual books. These computer books are reprints of
suppressed books and will cover American and world history; the
Biographies and writings of famous persons, and especially of our
nations Founding Fathers. They will include philosophy and
religion. all these subjects, and more, will be made available to
the public in electronic form, easily copied and distributed, so
that America can again become what its Founders intended --

The Free Market-Place of Ideas.

The Bank of Wisdom is always looking for more of these old,
hidden, suppressed and forgotten books that contain needed facts
and information for today. If you have such books please contact
us, we need to give them back to America.

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201
all rights reserved

Bank of Wisdom

The Bank of Wisdom is run by Emmett Fields out of his home in Kentucky. He painstakingly scanned in these works and put them on disks for others to have available. Mr. Fields makes these disks available for only the cost of the media.

Files made available from the Bank of Wisdom may be freely reproduced and given away, but may not be sold.

Reproducible Electronic Publishing can defeat censorship.

Bank of WisdomThe Bank of Wisdom is a collection of the most thoughtful, scholarly and factual books. These computer books are reprints of suppressed books and will cover American and world history; the Biographies and writings of famous persons, and especially of our nations Founding Fathers. They will include philosophy and religion. all these subjects, and more, will be made available to the public in electronic form, easily copied and distributed, so that America can again become what its Founders intended --

The Free Market-Place of Ideas.

The Bank of Wisdom is always looking for more of these old, hidden, suppressed and forgotten books that contain needed facts and information for today. If you have such books please contact us, we need to give them back to America.

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926
Louisville, KY 40201