cooperative individualism - lesson 6 - a quiet awakening interest in t

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Thomas Paine's ideals survived among a small number of those who recognized the importance of his contributions to political and moral philosophy. Thomas Edison and Walt Whitman stand out among those who stood with Paine.

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Cooperative Individualism: The Third Way to the Just Society LESSON 6 A Quiet Awakening Interest in Thomas Paine’s Ideals

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Thomas Edison

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“Tom Paine has almost no influence on present day thinking in the United States because he is unknown to the average citizen. Perhaps I might say right here that this is a national loss and a deplorable lack of understanding concerning the man who first proposed and first wrote those impressive words, the United States of America . …”

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“But it is hardly strange. Paine's teachings have been debarred from schools everywhere and his views of life misrepresented until his memory is hidden in shadows, or he is looked upon as of unsound mind. …”

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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. …”

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“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.”

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Robert G. Ingersoll

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“I challenge the world to show that Thomas Paine ever wrote one line, one word in favor of tyranny, in favor of immorality; one line, one word against what he believed to be for the highest and best interest of mankind; one line, one word against justice, charity, or liberty, and yet he has been pursued as though he had been a fiend from hell.”

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John E. Remsburg

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“In the popular mind to utter a word in his behalf has been to apologize for wrong – to declare yourself the enemy of man. The world is not prepared to do him full justice yet. Priestcraft, still powerful, uses all its power to prejudice the public mind against him and in too many hearts, where love and gratitude should dwell, ingratitude and hatred have their home.”

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Eric Foner

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“The irony is that Paine’s republican language suffused the culture of nineteenth-century America, but that Paine himself was generally forgotten. …Republican and democratic ideas could be obtained from Jefferson, without the added burden of Paine’s aggressive anti-clericalism. It was only among those willing to accept him in full – his religious writings as well as political – that Paine remained a hero.”

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Walt Whitman

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“I dare not say how much of what our Union is owning and enjoying to day—its independence—its ardent belief in, and substantial practice of, radical human rights—and the severance of its government from all ecclesiastical and superstitious dominion—I dare not say how much of all this is owing to Thomas Paine, but I am inclined to think a good portion of it decidedly is.”

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Ernestine L. Rose

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“[Thomas Paine] has not only labored to throw off political despotism, but also that worst kind of despotism – superstition, under whose oppressive thraldom all other freedom becomes stifled. Yes! He has rung the funeral knell of priestcraft and superstition, the sound of which has been wafted by the genial spirit of freedom to wherever man is to be found. It rings on, and wherever the mind of man is open to the voice of reason, it is heard and understood.”

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Harvey J. Kaye

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“Contrary to the ambitions of the governing elites, as well as the presumptions of historians and biographers, Paine remained a powerful presence in American political and intellectual life. Recognizing the persistent and developing contradictions between the nation’s ideals and reality, diverse Americans – native-born and immigrant – struggled to defend, extend, and deepen freedom, equality, and democracy. …”

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“Rebels, reformers, and critics such as Frances Wright, William Lloyd Garrison, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Ernestine Rose, Susan B. Anthony, Walt Whitman, Herman Melville, Abraham Lincoln, Albert Parsons, Mark Twain, Emma Goldman, Eugene Debs, Alfred Bingham, Franklin Roosevelt, A.J. Muste, Saul Alinsky, C. Wright Mills, and innumerable others right down to the present generation rediscovered Paine’s career and work and drew ideas, inspiration, and encouragement from them.”

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Oscar Wilde Leonard Read Felix Morley Friedrich Hayek

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END of Lesson Six

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