Saturday, November 8, 2008

Thomas Paine: the early years.

'Without the pen of Paine, the sword of Washington would have been wielded in vain.' John Adams.

In England, Paine failed as a stay maker, sailor, teacher, excise man, and tobacconist, because his thoughts were on writing and debating.

Ben Franklin met Paine in England at one of Paine’s discussions. This meeting changed world history. After Franklin befriended Paine, he suggested Paine move to the Colonies and gave him a Letter of Introduction. Paine’s moving to America brought about the start of the American Revolution.

Paine was a student of John Locke and the Enlightenment. He improved upon Locke’s ideas concerning government and the division between government and religion. His support of equal rights for women and the abolition of slavery were not well received by either the church or government. His concepts of getting rid of royalty and creating a democratic form of government was treasonous. The colonial intelligentsia was giving up on Christianity and going to the scientific religion of Deism and so, the embers of revolution were glowing when Paine wrote:
Serious Thought.
From the Pennsylvania Journal, October 18, 1775.

“When I reflect on the horrid cruelties exercised by Britain in the East Indies - How thousands perished by artificial famine - How religion and every manly principle of honor and honesty were sacrificed to luxury and pride - When I read of the wretched natives being blown away, for no other crime than because, sickened with the miserable scene, they refused to fight – When I reflect on these and a thousand instances of similar barbarity, I firmly believe that the Almighty, in compassion to mankind, will curtail the power of Britain.

And when I reflect on the use she hath made of the discovery of this new world - that the little paltry dignity of earthly kings bath been setup in preference to the great cause of the King of Kings - That instead of Christian examples to the Indians, she hath basely tampered with their passions, imposed on their ignorance, and made them tools of treachery and murder - And when to these and many other melancholy reflections I add this sad remark, that ever since the discovery of America she hath employed herself in the most horrid of all traffics, that of human flesh, unknown to the most savage nations, hath yearly (without provocation and in cold blood) ravaged the hapless shores of Africa, robbing it of its unoffending inhabitants to cultivate her stolen dominions in the West.

When I reflect on these, I hesitate not for a moment to believe that the Almighty will finally separate America from Britain. Call it independence or what you will, if it is the cause of God and humanity it will go on.

And when the Almighty shall have blest us, and made us a people dependent only upon Him, then may our first gratitude be shown by an act of continental legislation, which shall put a stop to the importation of negroes for sale, soften the hard fate of those already here, and in time procure their freedom.”

Paine signed Humanus to the document because his committed treason against England. Humanus: pertains to man, humane, humane, and cultured. The pen struck at the heart of the English rule.

The pamphlet was a cry of freedom from Britain and the embryo of the US Declaration of Independence. And Paine’s pen would continue to outline the democratic republic of the USA and save the revolution many times.

A Lakeside Truth Seeker
Hank Shiver


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