Thomas Paine, The Father Of The U.S.of A.

Professor’s Classroom

Subject:  American History

Today we celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the birth of the United States of America….there is only one person that we should thank for the DoI as well as the name of this country…Thomas Paine.

Why would anyone make such a claim?  That is an easy one to answer…Thomas Paine was the FIRST person to envision a United States of America.  There were many signers and orators of the time, but only one man can truly be called the Father of the United States of America.

As I have said he was the first person to use the term United States of America, he made the idea more palatable to the average colonialists.  And in doing so made the Revolution possible for without his input through his pamphlet , “Common Sense” the revolution would have failed for the only ones that really wanted a break from Mother England was the wealthy and the elites of the time.

His influence was felt on other issues of the day and some of them were not that popular with the elites, especially the ones on slavery, women and the poor.

He proposed the Abolition of Negro Slavery; proposed Arbitration for International Peace; advocated Justice for Women; pointed out the Reality of Human Brotherhood; suggested International Copyright; invented a suspension bridge and smokeless candle; proposed the Education of Children of the Poor at public expense; suggested a Great Republic of All Nations of the world.  He urged the Purchase of the great Louisiana Territory.  He proposed pension payments or Old Age Pensions.  He also suggested protection for dumb animals.  We have honored him when we have adopted these sane propositions.

But let us be honest, before the arrival of Thomas Paine, reconciliation with England was the rule of the day.  There was little thought of independence in those days, but rather to gain some sort of recognition from the English crown.  Even the hero of every American, Thomas Jefferson, was hesitant to call for separation from England.

He even wrote it in a letter to John Randolph in 1775:

“Believe me , dear sir, there is not in the British Empire a man who more cordially loves a union with Great Britain more than I…..It is neither our wish or our interest to separate from her (England).  ……Let them name their terms and let them be just….”

This was written to the person a mere two months before the publishing of Common Sense.  Jefferson became a convert to the independence thing after seeing and hearing the impact of the writings of Thomas Paine.  Independence in Jefferson’s mind was the worst possible solution to the problems the colonies were having with Mother England.

And everybody’s first American hero, George Washington was not an independence minded person….in a letter to his friend, Jonathan Boucher on the possibility of conflict with England:

If you ever hear of my joining any such measures, you have my leave to set me down for everything wicked.

Almost nowhere in the Colonies was there a call for independence from England until Paine published “Common Sense” and after the “Founding Fathers” saw the impact it had on the population, did they become a convert to the thought of independence.

Then when the Continental Army was in retreat and dangerously close to collapse Washington asked Paine to use his skills as a writer to help raise support and moral….once again Paine came to the rescue and wrote a series of pamphlets which would later be known as “The Crisis”.  (BTW, United States of America was used for the first time in “The Crisis, essay 2”)   With the publication of the series, new life was pumped into the movement and the army.

And yes, I will always trumpet the issues in Thomas Paine’s honor……why?….for one I think that he was the person that originated the Declaration of Independence (DoI).  Jefferson may have wrote it but the ideas were Paine’s and not Jefferson and the bunch.  Think I am wrong?  Read Common Sense and then read the DoI…the original version, for the final version was only about 75% of the original….the DoI is a condensed version of Common Sense.  Jefferson was a pragmatist not an idealist….Jefferson lacked the passion of an idealist, as a matter of fact, during the time when the people we lathering up for independence Jefferson did NOT write a thing either in favor of independence or in opposition…the pragmatic thing to do would have tried to force England into conciliation with the colonies.  That idea NEVER entered Paine’s mind, he was for independence first and foremost.

If anyone deserves the title father of this country, then it should be Thomas Paine.  Unfortunately, Washington had been saddled with that title because he was the general that lead American rag tag forces to victory.  History tries to avoid the fact that it was Paine that urged the Continental Congress to appoint Washington as the commanding general of the army, when others were in the running.  So the “historical” father of the country owes his station and his legacy to Paine and in no small way.

Thomas Paine is the father of the United States of America, because it was his IDEA that lead to the independence from the British Empire….who knows where the US would be today if it had not been for that idea.  The best we have ever done for this man was a stamp with his likeness….he deserves more recognition than that….more truth needs to be taught to our children about the REAL history of the beginning of this country.  When a short history of the “Founding Fathers” is taught, the Big 6 are usually taught, Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, Adams, John not Samuel, Madison and Franklin..others are left out of the lesson…that should be rectified and then maybe Paine would take his rightful place as the original “Founding Father”.

12 thoughts on “Thomas Paine, The Father Of The U.S.of A.

  1. Oh, I agree and I always think it’s something of a shame that he would hardly recognise his spawn today…

    How do you see today’s version standing up to scrutiny and comparison with his vision expressed in “Common Sense”?

    1. The best reason I was given by a colleague when I was lecturing…..”he was too radical for the history books and the myths built up around the Founding Fathers”…..

  2. if I wasn’t reading one of Dr. King’s books right now, I’d be pulling out my collected Thomas Paine writings to read again. His pen instigated several revolutions. Amazing.

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