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On Thomas Paine Part Two

by Robert Ingersoll, Secular Web

Re-printed by Al Bratton 10-14-11

“Thomas Paine was not content with having aroused the spirit of independence, but he gave every energy of his soul to keep that spirit alive. He was with the army. He shared its defeats, its dangers, and its glory. When the situation became desperate, when gloom settled upon all, he gave them the “CRISIS.” It was a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, leading the way to freedom, honor, and glory. He shouted to them, ‘These are the times that try men souls. The summer soldier, and the sunshine patriot, will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.’”

“To those who wished to put the war off to some future day, with a lofty and touching spirit of self-sacrifice he said: Every generous parent should say, ‘If there must be war let it be in my day, that my child may have peace –‘ To the cry that Americans were rebels, he replied: ‘He that rebels against reason is a real rebel; but he that in defence of reason rebels against tyranny, has a better title to ‘Defender of the Faith’ than George the Third.’”

“Some said it was not to the interest of the colonies to be free. Paine answered this by saying, ‘To know whether it be the interest of the continent to be independent, we need ask only this simple, easy question: ‘Is it the interest of a man to be a boy all his life?’ He found many who would listen to nothing, and to them he said, ‘That to argue with a man who has renounced his reason is like giving medicine to the dead.’ This sentiment ought to adorn the walls of every orthodox church.”

“There is a world of political wisdom in this: ‘England lost her liberty in a long chain of right reasoning from wrong principles’; and there is real discrimination in saying’ ‘The Greeks and Romans were strongly possessed of the spirit of liberty, but not the principles, for at the time that they were determined not to be slaves themselves, they employed their power to enslave the rest of mankind.”’

“In his letter to the British people, in which he tried to convince them that war was not to their interest, occurs the following passage brimful of common sense: “War never can be the interest of a trading’ nation any more than quarreling can be profitable to a man in business. But to make war with those who trade with us is like setting a bull-dog upon a customer at the shop-door.’”

“The writings of Paine fairly glitter with simple, compact, logical statements, that carry conviction to the dullest and most prejudiced. He had the happiest possible way of putting the case; in asking questions in such a way that they answer themselves, and in stating his premises so clearly that the deduction could not be avoided. Day and night he labored for America; month after month, year after year, he gave himself to the Great Cause, until there was ‘a government of the people and for the people,’ and until the banner of the stars floated over a continent redeemed, and consecrated to the happiness of mankind.”

End Part Two