Researching the American Revolution

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Thomas Paine

A Britisher by birth, Thomas Paine came to the American Colonies just prior to the start of the American War of Independence. During the dark days of 1776, when Gen. George Washington’s Army seemed to be on the brink of collaspe, Paine penned his most famous book Common Sense.  He followed up with a series of Pamplets under the series name of The American Crisis.  His writing has been credited with instilling a renewed sense of commitment to the Revolutionary Rebels.   In the 1790’s Revolutionary France, Paine wrote the Rights of Man.  Paine’s contribution to the French Revolution is more controversial and eventually he fled France for Britain and America.

While Paine is credited as a gifted political writer, after the American and French Revolutions his views were out of step with both governments. and many citizens.  Paine eventually returned to the United States but received a cold welcome.  Many people were put off by Paines views on Christianity and religion.  He death in 1809 went almost unnoticed.   There are few memorials to Paine in the United States.  Two statues are located in New Jersey (Morristown and Bordentown) and two busts in the museums on either side of the Delaware River where Washington’s Army crossed on December 25 and 26. In addition, there’s a monument on the grounds of the National Association of Thomas Paine in New Rochelle, New York.

Books and Pamplets by Thomas Paine

Common Sense, 1776

The American Crisis:  Number 1. by the Author of Common Sense December 23, 1776

The Rights of Man, 1792

Primary Sources

Paine, Thomas. Collected Writings. The Library of America 76. New York: Library of America, 1995.

The Library of America has the best reprint of all of Paine’s works in a compact volume.

———. Common Sense. Mount Vernon, New York: The Press of A. Colish, 1976.

_______. The Rights of Man -Part Two – The Second Combining Pinciple and Practice. London: H. D. Symonds, 1972.

Secondary Sources

Ferling, John E. Apostles of Revolution: Jefferson, Paine, Monroe, and the Struggle against the Old Order in America and Europe. New York: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2018.

Foner, Eric, and Thomas Paine. Tom Paine and Revolutionary America. 1. iss. Oxford Univ. Press paperback. London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1977.

Keane, John. Tom Paine: A Political Life. 1st ed. Boston: Little, Brown, 1995.

Nelson, Craig. Thomas Paine: Enlightenment, Revolution, and the Birth of Modern Nations. New York: Viking, 2006.

Research Centers

Iona College maintains an Institute for Thomas Paine Studies as part of its academic mission. Iona is located three miles from the location of Paine’s buriel.  The institute employs Artificial Intelligence and Big Data to better analyze Paines writings and to identify writings which should be attributed to other authors.

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