The Radicalism of Thomas Paine

Southern Nights

The land, the earth God gave man for his home, sustenance, and support, should never be the possession of any man, corporation, society, or unfriendly government, any more than the air or water.”  – Abraham Lincoln

The word ‘Bastille’ was also fresh in the mind in 1791, as the symbol of the French absolutist monarchy and as a synonym for the many dark prisons in which the liberals of Europe had so long been confined and tortured. The Marquis de Lafayette, chivalric hero of both the American and the French Revolutions, gave the key of the Bastille to Thomas Paine and requested him to forward it to President George Washington as a token of French regard to the American people. Paine had done so with delight in the year before he published Rights of Man, adding a covering letter which described the key as ‘this early trophy of the spoils…

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