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Thomas Paine
by [?]

In Seventeen Hundred Eighty-one, Paine was sent to France with Colonel Laurens to negotiate a loan. The errand was successful, and Paine then made influential acquaintances, which were later to be renewed. He organized the Bank of North America to raise money to feed and clothe the army, and performed sundry and various services for the Colonies.

In Seventeen Hundred Ninety-one he published his third book, “The Rights of Man,” with a complimentary preface by Thomas Jefferson. The book had an immense circulation in America and England. By way of left-handed recognition of the work, the author was indicted by the British Government for “sedition.” A day was set for the trial, but as Paine did not appear–those were hanging days–and could not be found, he was outlawed and “banished forever.”

He became a member of the French Assembly, or “Chamber of Deputies,” and for voting against the death of the king came under suspicion, and was cast into prison, where he was held for one year, lacking a few weeks. His life was saved by James Monroe, America’s Minister to France, and for eighteen months he was a member of Monroe’s household.

In Seventeen Hundred Ninety-four, while in France, there was published simultaneously in England, America and France, Paine’s fourth book, “The Age of Reason.”

In Eighteen Hundred Two, Thomas Jefferson, then President of the United States, offered Paine passage to America on board the man-of- war “Maryland,” in order that he might be safe from capture by the English, who had him under constant surveillance and were intent on his arrest, regarding him as the chief instigator in the American Rebellion. Arriving in America, Paine was the guest for several months of the President at Monticello. His admirers in Baltimore, Washington, Philadelphia and New York gave banquets in his honor, and he was tendered grateful recognition on account of his services to humanity and his varied talents. He was presented by the State of New York, “in token of heroic work for the Union,” a farm at New Rochelle, eighteen miles from New York, and here he lived in comparative ease, writing and farming.

He passed peacefully away, aged seventy-two, in Eighteen Hundred Nine, and his body was buried on his farm, near the house where he lived, and a modest monument erected marking the spot. He had no Christian burial, although, unlike Mr. Zangwill, he had a Christian name. Nine years after the death of Paine, William Cobbett, the eminent English reformer, stung by the obloquy visited upon the memory of Paine in America, had the grave opened and the bones of the man who wrote the first draft of our Declaration of Independence were removed to England, and buried near the spot where he was born. Death having silenced both the tongue and the pen of the Thetford weaver, no violent interference was offered by the British Government. So now the dead man slept where the presence of the living one was barred and forbidden. A modest monument marks the spot. Beneath the name are these words, “The world is my country, mankind are my friends, to do good is my religion.”

In Eighteen Hundred Thirty-nine, a monument was erected at New Rochelle, New York, on the site of the empty grave where the body of Paine was first buried, by the lovers and admirers of the man. And while only one land claims his birthplace, three countries now dispute for the privilege of honoring his dust, for it so happened that in France a strong movement was on foot demanding that the remains of Thomas Paine be removed from England to France, and be placed in the Pantheon, that resting-place of so many of the illustrious dead who gave their lives to the cause of Freedom, close by the graves of Voltaire, Rousseau and Victor Hugo. And the reason the bones were not removed to Paris was because only an empty coffin rests in the grave at Thetford, as at New Rochelle. Rumor says that Paine’s skull is in a London museum, but if so, the head that produced “The Age of Reason” can not be identified. And the end is not yet!