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Thomas Paine and "Common Sense"


Thomas Paine., Digital ID em2937, New York Public LibraryThomas Paine was born 275 years ago on January 29. He died in 1809 at 59 Grove Street in New York City, where a plaque marks his passing.

Paine’s writings, especially Common Sense, helped the American cause in the Revolution, and John Adams credited him with a crucial role in the winning of that war.

Paine was not shy in expressing his opinions, and his writings about religion made him unpopular. Here are some of his words from his most famous works:

"When we are planning for posterity, we ought to remember that virtue is not hereditary."

— Common Sense

"It is of the utmost danger to society to make it (religion) a party in political disputes."

— Common Sense

"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated."

— The American Crisis

"If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace."

— The American Crisis

"I speak an open and disinterested language, dictated by no passion but that of humanity. To me, who have not only refused offers, because I thought them improper, but have declined rewards I might with reputation have accepted, it is no wonder that meanness and imposition appear disgustful. Independence is my happiness, and I view things as they are, without regard to place or person; my country is the world, and my religion is to do good."

— The Rights of Man

"All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian, or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit."

— The Rights of Man

"It is only by the exercise of reason that man can discover God."

The Age of Reason

"The most detestable wickedness, the most horrid cruelties, and the greatest miseries, that have afflicted the human race have had their origin in this thing called revelation, or revealed religion."

— The Age of Reason


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Thomas Pain

Two great quotes: "If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace." The importance of this quote is that if people really thought through some of their own misguided actions they would never do some of the things they do, because they would realize how their unfortunate actions might affect future generations. "It is only by the exercise of reason that man can discover God." I believe this refers to "nothing comes from nothing... nothing ever could..." The age old question is about infinity...going backwards in time... How was the first molecule, the first flower, the first river, stream, sea or rock brought into being. There had to be a Creator because, even scientists, the great skeptics, believe that nothing can come from nothing. There has to be a spiritual force beyond human understanding who controls the universe. Time had no beginning...infinity means forever moving forward and backward...Only God controls infinity.

Tom Paine and the Village

The plaque mentioned above is on a building that houses a piano bar named "Marie's Crisis." This name is not a campy joke, even if the patrons of the modern bar are mostly gay men. The Marie in question is a woman known as "Romany Marie," who owned a tea room on Washington Square South. NYU took over her building and forced her to move. Discovering the building on Grove Street, which stands on the site of Tom Paine's home, she rented the ground floor and named her establishment in honor of Paine's most famous essay, "The Crisis." It's amazing what a professional guide can discover.

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