A Conversation for Thomas Paine - Revolutionary Pamphleteer

Thomas Paine - Revolutionary Pamphleteer

Post 1


Thomas Paine did not die abandoned, alone and without friends, and he certainly did not die poor.

As to what you will see, although the amounts may seem small, most people have no idea of what this was worth in terms of today’s money. This is the first piece of evidence, take note that Paine wrote Jefferson some years before that the house he had rented for Mrs. De Bonneville in New York City cost him $45 a year (modest, but hardly a cracker box).

From New Rochelle, written to John Fellows, an auctioneer in New York City, one of his friends. In part:

"I send this by the N. Rochelle boat and have desired the boatman to call on you with it. He is to bring up Bebia and Thomas (Madame’s de Bonneville’s sons) and I will be obliged to you to see them safe on board. The boat will leave N. Y. (city) on Friday. … I send enclosed three dollars for a ream of writing paper and one dollar for some letter paper, and porterage to the boat.”

A recent PBS program on the first voyage of Captain Cook mentioned that one of his crew had put up 10,000 pounds to help finance and join the voyage, they said today that would (roughly) equal 2,000,000 pounds. Paine on returns to this country estimated his worth at 30,000 pounds. This is 6 million pounds today, and nearly 12 million US. As he was still earning money nearly until the day he died it is no wonder a newspaper would state, "distinguished philanthropist." When Paine died he was worth "only" a few million in today’s money (in UK, or US currency).

The New York Advertiser (one of the leading papers of the day) said:

“With heart-felt sorrow and poignant regret, we are compelled to announce to the world that Thomas Paine is no more. This distinguished philanthropist, whose life was devoted to the cause of humanity, departed this life yesterday morning; and, if any man's memory deserves a place in the breast of a freeman, it is that of the deceased, for, Take him for all in all, We ne'er shall look upon his like again.”

The religious controversy had pretty much died down. That is until, on his arrival in New York (1803-4) Paine joined with Palmer in founding a Theistic Church, and wrote for 'The Prospect.' The rationalists who gathered around Elihu Palmer in New York were called the "Columbian Illuminati." It was said that, “Their numbers were considerable, but they did not belong to fashionable society.”

However, according to the historian, Robert T. Handy, "No more than 10 percent, probably less, of Americans in 1800 were members of congregations." This should not in any way be taken as anti-religious, rather it was a reaction against the organized religions of the day, that often upheld injustice, slavery, bigotry, racial repression, and preached elitism.

Even these do not give a complete picture. In a letter to Jefferson Paine said, in part:

“There is more hypocrisy than bigotry in America. When I was in Connecticut the summer before last, I fell in company with some Baptists among whom were three Ministers. The conversation turned on the election for President, and one of them who appeared to be a leading man said ' They cry out against Mr. Jefferson because, they say he is a Deist. Well, a Deist may be a good man, and if he think it right, it is right to him… For my own part, said he, I had rather vote for a Deist than for a blue-skin Presbyterian.”

As for being an outcast the following again gives a quite different picture.

"In the summer of 1803 the political atmosphere was in a tempestuous condition, owing to the widespread accusation that Aaron Burr had intrigued with the Federalists against Jefferson to gain the presidency. There was a Society in New York called " Republican Greens," who, on Independence Day, had for a toast " Thomas Paine, the Man of the People," and who seem to have had a piece of music called the " Rights of Man." Paine was also apparently the hero of that day at White Plains, where a vast crowd assembled".

The following letter is addressed to Clio Rickman in 1802:

“Remember me in affection and friendship to your wife and family, and in the circle of your friends.”
“My Dear Friend: Mr. Monroe, who is appointed minister extraordinary to France, takes charge of this, to be delivered to Mr. Este, banker in Paris, to be forwarded to you. I arrived at Baltimore the 30th of October, and you can have no idea of the agitation, which my arrival occasioned. From New Hampshire to Georgia (an extent of 1,500 miles) every newspaper was filled with applause or abuse. My property in this country has been taken care of by my friends, and is now worth six thousand pounds sterling; which put in the funds will bring me 400 sterling a year.”

There are on record a number of surviving letters between Paine and Monroe, Madison, Thomas Jefferson and others, all well after his book The Age of Reason supposedly made him an outcast.

Concerning his "Principles of Nature," which was prosecuted in England along with the "Age of Reason," Paine wrote Elihu Palmer from Paris February 21, 1802: "I received by Mr. Livingston (hand delivered) the letter you wrote me, and the excellent work you have published."

This was Robert Livingston member of the constitutional drafting committee and signer of the Declaration of Independence then Minister to France who was intimate with Paine.

"The eminent orator and statesman, Albert Gallatin, was also one of Paine's most loyal friends. He visited and conversed with Paine while on his deathbed. The famous and gifted painter, John Wesley Jarvis, with whom Paine had formerly resided, testified that Paine on his deathbed reaffirmed the principles eciated in his "Age of Reason." So too, did the worthy lawyers, B.F. Haskin and Judge Hertel. And so, too, did Col. John Fellows, one of New York's most honored and respected citizens."

As to his funeral it was a small affair, Paine had wanted a quite ceremony. However there were far more people at this than generally admitted. De Bonneville said, in part: Looking round me, and beholding the small group of spectators, I exclaimed, as the earth was tumbled into the grave, Oh, Mr. Paine, my son stands here as a testimony of the gratitude of America, and I, for France.” Regardless of the number at the gravesite, all to gather this ranges from five to twenty-six, none of which should be trusted, given all this, there was also a small group of spectators.

A letter written in later years to Jefferson in asking for money has been totally taken out of context, this had nothing to do with Paine’s financial situation, he was not asking that Jefferson petition congress in his behalf, nor did Paine.

"Old Captain Landais who lives at Brooklyn on Long Island opposite New York calls sometimes to see me. I knew him in Paris. He is a very respectable old man. I wish something had been done for him in Congress on his petition; for I think something is due to him, nor do I see how the Statute of limitation can consistently apply to him. The law in John Adams's administration, which cut off all commerce and communication with France, cut him off from the chance of coming to America to put in his claim. I suppose that the claims of some of our merchants on England, France and Spain is more than 6 or 7 years standing yet no law of limitation, that I know of take place between nations or between individuals of different nations. I consider a statute of limitation to be a domestic law, and can only have a domestic opperation. Dr. Miller, one of the New York Senators in Congress, knows Landais and can give you an account of him."

Rickman gives a brief account of some later work. “From this period to the time of his death, which was the ninth of June, 1809, Mr. Paine lived principally at New York, and on his estate at New Rochelle, publishing occasionally some excellent things in the Aurora newspaper, also "An Essay on the Invasion of England," "On the Yellow Fever," "On Gun-Boats, etc., etc.," and in 1807, "An Examination of the Passages in the New Testament, Quoted from the Old, and Called Prophecies Concerning Jesus Christ, etc."

Paine continued to write pieces for newspapers, many of these were against the Federalist Party that he saw as becoming dominated by men with darker ambitions. His suspicions were later confirmed by the Hartford Convention in which treason was almost surely committed but not proven.(According to the American Peoples Encyclopedia.) After this convention because of the odium the Federalist Party succeeded in destroying itself.

It should be noted that these later works produced income. So why didn’t he amass some vast amount? He gave it away; it has already been stated that he was a, “distinguished philanthropist.”

The Will of Thomas Paine

The People of the State of New York, by the Grace of God, Free and Independent, to all to whom these presents shall come, or may concern, SEND GREETING:

Know Ye, That the annexed is a true copy of the will of THOMAS PAINE deceased, as recorded in the office of the surrogate, in and for the city and county of New York. In testimony whereof, we have caused the seal of office of our said surrogate to be hereunto affixed. Witness, Silvanus Miller, Esq., surrogate of said county, at the city of New York, the twelfth day of July, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and nine, and of our independence the thirty-fourth.

Silvanus Miller.

The Will

The last will and testament of me, the subscriber, Thomas Paine, reposing confidence in my Creator, God and in no other being, for I know of no other, nor believe in any other. I, Thomas Paine, of the State of New York, author of the work entitled Common Sense, written in [begin page 366] Philadelphia, in 1775, which awaked America to a declaration of independence on the fourth of July following, which was as fast as the work could spread through such an extensive country; author also of the several numbers of the American Crisis, thirteen in all; published occasionally during the progress of the Revolutionary War --- the last is on the peace; author also of The Rights of Man, parts the first and second, written and published in London, in 1791 and 1792; author also of a work on religion, Age of Reason, parts the first and second ---N.B. I have a third part by me in manuscript, and an answer to the Bishop of Llandaff; author also of another work, lately published, entitled Examination of the Passages in the New Testament, Quoted from the Old, and called Prophecies concerning Jesus Christ, and showing there are no prophecies of any such Person; author also of several other works not here enumerated, Dissertations on First Principles of Government --- Decline and Fall of the English System of Finance --- Agrarian Justice, etc. etc., make this my last will and testament, that is to say:

I give and bequeath to my executors hereinafter appointed, Walter Morton and Thomas Ad- [begin page 367] dis Emmet, thirty shares I hold in the New York Phoenix Insurance Company, which cost me fourteen hundred and seventy dollars, they are now worth upwards of fifteen hundred dollars, and all my movable effects, and also the money that may be in my trunk or elsewhere at the time of my decease, paying thereout the expenses of my funeral, IN TRUST as to the said shares, movables and money, for Margaret Brazier Bonneville, wife of Nicholas Bonneville, of Paris, for her own sole and separate use,
and at her own disposal, notwithstanding her coverture.

As to my farm in New Rochelle, I give, devise, and bequeath the same to my said executors, Walter Morton and Thomas Addis Emmet, and to the survivor of them, his heirs and assigns for ever, IN TRUST nevertheless, to sell and dispose of the north side thereof, now in the occupation of Andrew A. Dean, beginning at the west end of the orchard, and running in a line with the land sold to ---- Coles, to the end of the farm, and to apply the money arising from such sale as hereinafter directed.

I give to my friends Walter Morton, of the New York Phoenix Insurance Company, and Thomas Addis Emmet, counselor at law, late of Ireland, two hundred dollars each, and one hun- [begin page 368] dred dollars to Mrs. Palmer, widow of Elihu Pahner, late of New York, to be paid out of the money arising from said sale; and I give the remainder of the money arising from that sale, one-half thereof to Clio Rickman, of High or Upper Mary-le-Bone Street, London, and the other half to Nicholas Bonneville, of, Paris, husband of Margaret B. Bonneville, aforesaid: and as to the South part of the said farm, containing upwards of one hundred acres, in trust to rent out the same, or otherwise put it to profit, as shall be found most advisable, and to pay the rents and profits thereof to the said Margaret B. Bonneville, in trust for her children, Benjamin Bonneville, and Thomas Bonneville, their education and maintenance, until they come to the age of twenty-one years, in order that she may bring them well up, give them good and useful learning, and instruct them in their duty to God, and the practise of morality; the rent of the land, or the interest of the money for which it may be sold, as hereinafter mentioned, to be employed in their education.

And after the youngest of the said children shall have arrived at the age of twenty-one years, in further trust to convey the same to the said [begin page 369] children, share and share alike, in fee simple. But if it shall be thought advisable by my executors and executrix, or the survivors of them, at any time before the youngest of the said children shall come of age, to sell and dispose of the said south side of the said farm, in that case I hereby authorize and empower my said executors to sell and dispose of the same, and I direct that the money arising from such sale be put into stock, either in the United States Bank stock, or New York Phoenix Insurance Company stock, the interest or dividends thereof to be applied as is already directed for the education and maintenance of the said children, and the principal to be transferred to the said children, or the survivor of them, on his or their coming of age.

I know not if the Society of people called Quakers, admit a person to be buried in their burying ground, who does not belong to their Society, but if they do, or will admit me, I would prefer being buried there; my father belonged to that profession, and I was partly bought up in it. But if it is not consistent with their rules to do this, I desire to be buried on my own farm at New Rochelle.

The place where I am to be buried, to be a [begin page 370] square of twelve feet, to be enclosed with a row of trees, and a stone or post and rail fence, with a headstone with my name and age engraved upon it, author of Commonsense. I nominate, constitute, and appoint Walter Morton, of the New York Phoenix Insurance Company, and Thomas Addis Emmet, counsellor at law, late of Ireland, and Margaret B. Bonneville, executors and executrix to this my last will and testament, requesting the said Walter Morton and Thomas Addis Emmet, that they will give what assistance they conveniently can do to Mrs. Bonneville, and see that the children be well bought up. Thus placing confidence in their friendship, I herewith take my final leave of them and of the world.

I have lived an honest and useful life to mankind; my time has been spent in doing good, and I die in perfect composure and resignation to the will of my creator, God. Dated the eighteenth day of January, in the year one thousand eight hundred and nine; and I have also signed my name to the other sheet of this will, in testimony of its being part thereof.

Thomas Paine.

Signed, sealed, published, and declared by the testator, who, at his request, and in the presence of each other, have set our names as witnesses thereto, the words "published and declared" first interlined.

W.M. Keese,

James Angevine,

Cornelius Ryder.

(Note too that Paine had ready money on him. As said this, the above would be millions in today’s money. I personally can not imagine how someone worth a few million, free and clear, supposedly died in property. Most quotes are from Ingersoll, some from Conway, although they completely contradict his overall story, for he gave an account by an English gentleman. Conway not only ignored it, he then used “deduction,” so-called and contradicted an eyewitness to the event. Although bigoted, this person gives a head count. Two black men, six men in a carriage, two other in a buggy, Willit hicks on horseback, we also know the Mrs. de Bonneville was in a carriage with her two sons, note that Conway edited this (it is not the complete description). This makes not less than 14 and three carriages when they started. It should be noted (proven) that Paine had some friends at New Rochelle. The rest are the quotations from the letters of Thomas Paine. The Will of Thomas Paine is available from different sources on the Internet. I am re-posting this, as it appears my first post was deleted.)

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Thomas Paine - Revolutionary Pamphleteer

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