Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Thomas Paine and the American Revolution

My Pen and My Soul Have Ever Gone Together: Thomas Paine and the American Revolution is the title of a book (2006) by Vikki J. VickersWhat follows is a snippet from a Review of the Book by Klara Rukshina:
In Vickers [the author's] opinion, Paine's God differs from the widely spread notion of God during the period of Enlightenment. As she puts it: "Paine's deist God connected with the need for humanitarian philanthropy should not be confused with a theistic God who is completely transcendent, utterly unknowable, and completely independent of His creation. So the principal difficulty with the theistic deity is that there is no incentive to pray or worship God. In contrast, Paine's deist God was knowable, at least to the point of establishing God's benevolent nature. More importantly, Paine's God both watches and judges mankind and has an active role in His creation. Humanitarianism in Paine's system, therefore, was not only logical, but necessary." (p. 123) "He envisioned nations (in particular Great Britain) that took responsibility for the welfare of its citizens." (p. 8)
Incidentally, the source for the phrase, my pen and my soul have ever gone together, comes from The American Crisis, Number II , October 11, 1779  (page 72),  where Paine explains:
What I write is pure nature, and my pen and my soul ever go together. My writings I have always given away, reserving only the expense of printing and paper, and sometimes not even that. I never courted either fame or interest, and my manner of life, to those who know it, will justify what I say.

1 comment:

Tom Van Dyke said...

Heh, Ray. This only reinforces the previous argument that Paine is interesting and attractive to modern historians because he's so ideologically attractive to them.

Roger Sherman, a modest Christian family man, was a far larger and greater figure in the American Founding than Tom Paine ever was. Sherman helped write the declaration of Independence, helped write the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Then he went home to his family.

Admittedly boring. Again, pardon my Wiki:

He was the only person to sign all four great state papers of the U.S.: the Continental Association, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution. Thomas Jefferson said of him: "That is Mr. Sherman, of Connecticut, a man who never said a foolish thing in his life."

As much as I like him, not a word of that could be said of Thomas Paine. It's Roger Sherman's name that should be known to every American before Thomas Paine's.