Thomas Paine and the Values of 1776

By: Thomas E. Brewton

Paine’s ideology was the antithesis of the ethos that produced our Constitution.

Responding to A View From the Left, Kenneth T. Ellis wrote:

Mr. Brewton,

As a member of the Thomas Paine Assn. I am appalled when I see what has happened to the U.S. and its downtrodden masses.

These words by Thomas Paine should ring out loud and clear to every American that today is in want.

When it shall be said in any country in the world,
my poor are happy, neither
distress nor ignorance
is to be found among them;
my jails are empty of prisoners,
my streets of beggars;
the aged are not in want,
the taxes are not oppressive…
…when these things can be said,
then may that country boast its constitution
and its government

(Rights of Man, part 2, 1792)

Then will also introduce you to a poem written by Thomas Pain.

See Africa’s wretched offspring torn
From all that human hearts hold dear.
See millions doomed in Chains to Mourn
Unpitied, even by a Tear.
See Asia and her fertile plains
Where once the Brahmin dwelt serene
Now ravaged by the thirst for Gain
Till famine ends the dismal scene.

These food for thought by those of you that have forgotten why Thomas Paine left England and came to America in 1774. To renew the spirit of what freedom really means to each and everyone of us on earth.

So, Mr. Brewton, always keep that mind and it will make a better person of you..

Now please do publish this letter on your website, to let those who have forgotten the true meaning of freedom.


Kenneth T. Tellis

While Thomas Paine’s stirring prose helped to rally public opinion in support of the War of Independence in 1776, his later writings were 180 degrees out of synch with the Christian ethos that prevailed in the United States.

It was in those later writings after the War of Independence – The Rights of Man and The Age of Reason – that Paine expressed the sentiments which Mr. Ellis holds forth as the true values of 1776.

Paine’s social and political ideas were essentially the revolutionary and bloody socialism that afflicted the world in the 1789 French Revolution.

His The Age of Reason is an attack upon Christianity and all spiritual religion, a panegyric to the minds of intellectuals as the source of human perfection via the collectivized political state.

Paine was a great admirer and supporter of the French Revolution and an advocate of cutting everyone down to the lowest denominator of poverty in order to achieve economic equality. This, of course, remains a guiding principle of today’s Democrat/Socialist Party and of liberal-progressives on both sides of the political aisle.

Paine admired the French Revolution’s abstract Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen, a document penned by a people who had never had so much as five minutes’ experience in self government during their entire history. Ironically, Voltaire, one of the celebrated voices leading to the Revolution, had to flee to England to escape persecution in France for his advocacy of greater political liberty. Living in England in the 1720s, Voltaire described it as the society that had the greatest degree of political liberty to be found anywhere in the world.

It was no accident that Americans writing the Constitution in 1787 took England, not France, as the model for our government. Nor is it surprising that the American public, having witnessed the barbaric savagery of the French Revolution, were repelled by Paine’s support for it. When he returned to the United States, he was deservedly ostracized.

As I wrote in Judeo-Christianity and the Constitution:

Students are taught that the Declaration of Independence was a hypocritical document, because Thomas Jefferson wrote that all men are created equal (this is a deliberate misrepresentation, as Jefferson was speaking not of slavery but of the estate of mankind under God). Students are taught that the French Revolution’s Declaration of Rights of Man and of the Citizen expresses the true aspiration of American democracy, which in liberals’ view ought to be the French-style socialistic welfare-state.

Such falsifications are the ideological basis upon which the mythology of our present-day left-wing liberalism rests.

The truth is starkly different.

Bancroft Prize-winning historian Clinton Rossiter, who described himself as a centrist, somewhere between labor union radicals and the late Senator Barry Goldwater, wrote in “The First American Revolution”:

“Finally, it must never be forgotten, especially in an age of upheaval and disillusionment, that American democracy rests squarely on the assumption of a pious, honest, self-disciplined, moral people. … Whatever doubts may exist about the sources of this democracy, there can be none about the chief source of the morality that gives it life and substance. From Puritanism, from the way of life that exalted individual responsibility, came those homely rules of everyday conduct – or, if we must, those rationalizations of worldly success – that have molded the American mind into its unique shape. … The men of 1776 believed that the good state would rise on the rock of private and public morality, that morality was in the case of most men and all states the product of religion, and that the earthly mission of religion was to set men free.”

Aspirations of Thomas Paine and his fellow liberal-progressives toward economic equality as the necessary condition for earthly social perfection gave us the bloody French Revolution. More than 70,000 French citizens – from children to the elderly – were murdered on the guillotine, by hanging, and by firing squads, in the name of “Liberty, Equality, Brotherhood.”

Those same liberal-progressive ideals espoused by Thomas Paine gave us the 20th century, the most savagely sanguinary and oppressive period in human history, all in the name of perfecting humanity.

Thomas E. Brewton is a staff writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.

His weblog is THE VIEW FROM 1776

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About The Author Thomas E. Brewton:
Thomas E. Brewton is a staff writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.

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