JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT : THE EXTRAORDINARY TOM PAINE – AN 18TH CENTURY POLITICAL WRITER FAR AHEAD OF HIS TIME – HIS UNPLEASANT RELATIONSHIP WITH GEORGE WASHINGTON – AND REMEMBERING THAT GREATEST HYPOCRITE IN AMERICAN HISTORY, THOMAS JEFFERSON   Leave a comment

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY RUSSELL BENTLEY IN FORT RUSS NEWS

 

“TOM PAINE – THE ORIGINAL CHE GUEVARA”

 

Paine was one of our great, non-academic political writers. His words may still be profitably read. A very eloquent and thoughtful man, and given to sharp sarcasm.

George Washington treated him shamefully.

Paine’s writing – In the form of pamphlets like “Common Sense” – was highly influential in the cause of the American Revolution.

Paine later traveled to France during the Great Revolution, and he ended up in prison during The Terror.

There was a plea for Washington’s intervention, but it was coldly ignored.

Many Americans do not realize what an aristocratic figure Washington indeed was. He had not a trace of revolutionary spirit or even progressive spirit. He actually admired the British nobility’s way of doing many things, and his earliest burning ambition was to win a regular British Army commission, but that really was not done in those days, and Washington’s desperate efforts followed by disappointment likely pushed him in the direction of later supporting the colonial revolt.

His form of support was odd though. When he was commissioned by the Continental Congress to take command – effectively at his own suggestion by wearing a uniform of his own design to the Continental Congress, and he was known for having been an officer in the Virginia Militia at the time of the Seven Years War – over the revolt which had started spontaneously against Britain in New England, he saw his first task as bringing harsh discipline.

He instituted flogging and hanging, as in the regular British Army, on the militiamen who had volunteered and previously elected their own officers. He wrote unpleasant letters about what filthy rabble they were.

Eventually, he had uniforms designed along the lines of British ones but in different colors, as well as having standard arms and drill practices introduced. He in effect created the feeling of a British Army commission for himself.

He even wore the traditional sash and sword of European nobles, continuing the practice as President on formal occasions.

And though Washington was not a religious man at all, he did not approve of the kind of critical and satirical writing Paine did on the subject of religion. Washington was a privileged American aristocrat – one of richest men in all the colonies – and very much worked towards “keeping up appearances.”

Paine managed to survive, but no thanks to Washington.

One European writer nicely summed up the American “revolution” as a revolt which saw foreign aristocratic rulers displaced by local aristocratic rulers. It is a very accurate observation.

_______________________________

Response to a flattering comment from the author, Russell Bentley:

Thank you, Russell.

I too admired Ben Franklin, and I was distressed to fInd he had dabbled in slavery for a while.

There are no words for Thomas Jefferson, the greatest hypocrite in American history.

Jefferson owned more than 200 slaves until his death, as a bankrupt. He never earned his own living.

You may enjoy:

https://chuckmanwordsincomments.wordpress.com/2019/04/03/john-chuckman-comment-the-remarkable-case-of-thomas-jefferson-he-wasnt-at-all-what-so-many-think-he-was-how-the-needs-of-politics-can-twist-and-exploit-historical-figures-and-myth-making-as-a/

 

https://chuckmanwordsincomments.wordpress.com/2018/02/22/john-chuckman-comment-how-using-quotes-from-famous-historical-figures-can-be-sometimes-misleading-what-they-said-was-not-always-how-they-lived-orwell-and-jefferson/

 

https://chuckmanwords.wordpress.com/2014/07/07/reflections-on-the-origins-and-meaning-of-americas-independence-day-re-posted-from-6-years-ago-nothing-having-changed/

______________________

Response to a further comment from Russell Bentley:

Thanks for the kind words.

Yes, it is hard to beat a fine line like Paine’s “My country is the world, and my religion is to do good.”

Or “He who dares not offend cannot be honest.”

That last, while I’m sure bent by some whose main point is to offend, is a profound truth about human affairs, as sharply true now as the day he wrote it.

As to the first line, H. G. Wells said more than a century later, “Our true nationality is mankind.” Paine was far ahead of his time.

Posted June 13, 2020 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized

LEAVE A COMMENT

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: