I delivered a 20 min talk last Saturday night at the Thomas Paine Hotel in his birthplace, Thetford, to a party of Paine fans who celebrate his birth each year. It wasn’t recorded so I am posting the laptop rehearsal.
(click) The final practice run
NOTE to the video
Thomas Paine, it you didn’t know, was one of the most important characters of the last three centuries, initiating the concept of the nation state, a body of people who governed themselves instead of being ruled by a king or other ruler. As we know, it didn’t quite work out as he pictured it in Common Sense, the book which turned a tax-motivated protest into the American War of Independence, selling half a million copies in the first six months of 1776. He turned the tide of the war from defeat to victory later that year, with a pamphlet that began “These are the times that try men’s souls.”
His next momentous book was conceived while building a revolutionary iron bridge in England, from whence he fled the hangman’s noose to Paris, writing his next major work while immersed in the French Revolution.
In my talk I refer to those two other books.
The Rights of Man “Man is not the enemy of man, but through the medium of a false system of Government.” – – – “The instant formal government is abolished, society begins to act. A general association takes place, and common interest produces common security.”
The Age of Reason “The word of God is in the creation we behold.”
“I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church”
He connects these themes: “It has been the scheme of the Christian church, and of all the other invented systems of religion, to hold man in ignorance of the Creator, as it is of Government to hold man in ignorance of his rights.”