J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Waves of Paine

During my latest postings on Thomas Paine, Prof. Harvey J. Kaye alerted me to the 200th anniversary of Paine’s death, coming up on 8 June 2009. He also sent me a link to this Bill Moyers television show about Paine from last year, in which the two men discuss Kaye’s book Thomas Paine and the Promise of America.

Observing the same anniversary, Kenneth W. Burchell sent me news of his article on Paine in the June/July issue of Free Inquiry magazine, from the Council for Secular Humanism. Ken is also bringing Paine to Twitter.

Earlier I mentioned Ken’s new six-volume collection of responses to Paine and his ideas, titled Thomas Paine and America, 1776–1809. It collects facsimiles of early pamphlets and books discussing Paine’s essays, “digitally cleaned and enhanced,” as well as “a general introduction, headnotes, endnotes and a consolidated index.” Order before 30 June, and the price is only $765!

I can’t resist pointing out an irony in the historiography of Paine. His fans often complain that he’s been neglected, written out of the nation’s history. And yet Americans have never stopped writing about him. Not always favorably, to be sure, but we can look back on a steady stream of new editions, biographies, and analyses of Paine’s thought.

1 comment:

Centers and Squares said...

Thomas Paine on Twitter - I love it! As I've been reading your posts I've been impressed with the ways that history is being integrated with the online world - you've highlighted all sort of wonderful presentations here. Putting Paine on Twitter is really taking advantage of modern ways to communicate.

As much as I'm drawn to sifting through documents in the archives or hiding out in the stacks I have to say all of this is a great way to keep history alive. And as for tomorrow's anniversary - the older I get the more I realize that 200 years is not a very long time at all.