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Thomas Paine

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I consider Paine our greatest political thinker. As we have not advanced, and perhaps never shall advance, beyond the Declaration and Constitution, so Paine has had no successors who extended his principles.
--
Thomas Alva Edison, in "The Philosophy of Paine" (7 June 1925).

 
Thomas Paine

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I consider Paine our greatest political thinker. As we have not advanced, and perhaps never shall advance, beyond the Declaration and Constitution, so Paine has had no successors who extended his principles. Although the present generation knows little of Paine's writings,and although he has almost no influence upon contemporary thought, Americans of the future will justly appraise his work. I am certain of it.
Truth is governed by natural laws and cannot be denied. Paine spoke truth with a peculiarly clear and forceful ring. Therefore time must balance the scales.

 
Thomas Alva Edison
 

As an act of kindness Mr. Woodsworth visited Mr. Paine every day for six weeks before his death. He frequently sat up with him, and did so on the last two nights of his life. He was always there with Dr. Manley, the physician, and assisted in removing Mr. Paine while his bed was prepared. He was present when Dr. Manley asked Mr. Paine "if he wished to believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God," and he describes Mr. Paine's answer as animated. He says that lying on his back he used some action and with much emphasis, replied, "I have no wish to believe on that subject." He lived some time after this, but was not known to speak, for he died tranquilly.

 
Thomas Paine
 

Looking back to those times we cannot, without much reading, clearly gauge the sentiment of the Colonies. Perhaps the larger number of responsible men still hoped for peace with England. They did not even venture to express the matter that way. Few men, indeed, had thought in terms of war.
Then Paine wrote 'Common Sense,' an anonymous tract which immediately stirred the fires of liberty. It flashed from hand to hand throughout the Colonies. One copy reached the New York Assembly, in session at Albany, and a night meeting was voted to answer this unknown writer with his clarion call to liberty. The Assembly met, but could find no suitable answer. Tom Paine had inscribed a document which never has been answered adversely, and never can be, so long as man esteems his priceless possession.
In 'Common Sense' Paine flared forth with a document so powerful that the Revolution became inevitable. Washington recognized the difference, and in his calm way said that matters never could be the same again.. It must be remembered that 'Common Sense' preceded the declaration and affirmed the very principles that went into the national doctrine of liberty. But that affirmation was made with more vigor, more of the fire of the patriot and was exactly suited to the hour. It is probable that we should have had the Revolution without Tom Paine. Certainly it could not be forestalled, once he had spoken.

 
Thomas Alva Edison
 

The memory of Tom Paine will outlive all this. No man who helped to lay the foundations of our liberty who stepped forth as the champion of so difficult a cause can be permanently obscured by such attacks. Tom Paine should be read by his countrymen. I commend his fame to their hands.

 
Thomas Alva Edison
 

Had it not been for Thomas Paine I could not deliver this lecture here to-night.
It is still fashionable to calumniate this man and yet Channing, Theodore Parker, Longfellow, Emerson, and in fact all the liberal Unitarians and Universalists of the world have adopted the opinions of Thomas Paine.

 
Robert G. Ingersoll
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