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Mr. Ulmschneider's Forums > AP Government: Madison, Paine, and Politics

"He doesn't even go here!" ---Paine's disconnect from the American People

posted Dec 17, 2012 22:23:51 by MadelineWyatt
The article seems to harp upon the fact that Paine was never truly recognized as a father of the American Revolution and summarizes his life, accomplishments, and demise. I believe the reason that he is not recognized as one of those founding fathers is that his ideas are not purely American, and the purpose of Common Sense was not aimed solely at the American Revolution but Revolution and his ideology in general. Firstly, his animosity at the British empire festered not in America, but in the slums of England. The article says, "It was if the first thirty years of his life, spent in poverty and obscurity and pressed close to the bottom of English society, had primed him to think like an American." Notice, he spent thirty years in England and only fourteen months in America before writing Common Sense and its big success. Paine was very much iedologically ahead of his time, he disagreed with Hobbes and most of the other founders because he believed in "the natural moral tendencies of people to love and care for one another." He was fundamentally different from all the other founders except Thomas Jefferson. However, Paine went much father in his liberal tendencies to almost parallel the much later Marx with beliefs with "people of various nations left alone to exchange goods freely amongst themselves" and even a belief in "war itself being abolished." These were not the fundamentals of the American Revolution, but personal attacks at Great Britain from a citizen thrown down in its own streets, and anger at the system in general.
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2 replies
JacobMoyar said Dec 17, 2012 23:01:03
This is a very interesting approach to the article. Rather than giving Paine credit for developing ideas for the sake of the American Revolution, you point out that his writings were just a desperate stab back at England for all the years he spent living in the slums. He didn't write with the intention that his writing would one day be the guidelines of our nation, he just happened upon fame when people read and liked his works. If Paine had made more connections among the other revolutionary leaders and made his intentions more clear, perhaps he wouldn't have been shunned by them and by historians afterward. This is a strong argument against Thomas Paine as a founding father supported by good quotes.
MadelineWyatt said Dec 17, 2012 23:09:51
I find that it is one of those events in history that is merely a matter of good timing. His essentially anti-British/anti-monarchy/anti-government in general sentiments were picked up as a matter of stirring resentment and animosity in the colonies against Britain. However, the Revolution and the newly-formed government picked and choose which aspects of his arguments to draw on. They did not attack religion as he did, nor did the founders believe government to be fundamentally "malignant" because that was the cause of their hard work. Paine was very cynical and although inspired ideas of the revolution, did not promote his ideas in the fledgling government nor take part. He should be revered and I think is revered from a literary and philosophical standpoint but he has no place with the founding fathers, because he did not want one nor did he shape the actual structure of the nation.
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