Thomas Paine: Rights, Reason and Common Sense Deviance

Thomas Paine: Rights, Reason and Common Sense Deviance

Introduction

“All great truths begin as blasphemies”.[1]  ~George Bernard Shaw

This well-known quote by Shaw betokens the same spirit of progress that inspired Robert G. Ingersoll to write:

‘The Infidels of one age have been the aureoled saints of the next. The destroyers of the old are the creators of the new…The history of intellectual progress is written in the lives of Infidels. Political rights have been preserved by traitors – the liberty of the mind by heretics.’[2]

According to the social, religious and legal codes of Thomas Paine’s day, he was an infidel, a heretic, a blasphemer, and a seditious traitor – he was one of the most unrepentant and reviled deviants of his time, yet his deviance helped sow the seeds for the end of aristocratic tyranny,[3] the abolition of slavery,[4] the loosening of the grip of theocracy in Europe and England,[5] and his works were the tumultuous yet fertile soil in which our modern notion of human rights were first popularly sown.[6]

This essay will focus on two aspects of Paine’s deviance: his political deviance and his religious deviance.  Although this essay has been separated on the basis of two of Paine’s most influential works, The Rights of Man and The Age of Reason, it must be noted that there is some overlap, as religion and politics were inseparable in the pre-secular world.  Paine’s political attack on the aristocracy was viewed as an attack on the ‘Great Chain of Being’, or divine order of human society,[7] and his attack on the Christian religion was seen as an attack on the very foundation of both the government and the religion upon which it was established.

This essay will also briefly mention how the political allies of Paine eventually turned on him when he published his attack on the Christian religion, and it will be shown, via primary and secondary historical sources, how Paine’s religious deviance was subject to both formal and informal sanctions, from both informal friend and formal foe.

Finally, although numerous historians (Nash, 2007; Keane, 1995; Middlekauff, 2005) have described the historical context of Paine’s deviant works, and both the formal and informal reactions to them, very few, if any, have examined the impact that Thomas Paine had on his world through the lens of the sociological theory of deviance, and in this way, this essay will provide a uniquely historical and sociological analysis of two of Paine’s most offensive works.

 

Social Deviance & Thomas Paine

Sociologists approach the theory of deviance by distinguishing between formal and informal deviance.[8]

Anderson and Taylor (2013) describe the difference between these forms of deviance in the following words:

Formal deviance is behavior that breaks laws or official rules. Crime is an example. There are formal sanctions against formal deviance, such as imprisonment and fines. Informal deviance is behaviour that violates customary norms (Schur 1984). Although such deviance may not be specified in law, it is judged to be deviant by those who uphold the society’s norms.’[9]

The two works of Paine with which this essay is concerned, contain words and ideas that fall within the purview of both formal and informal deviance, for they not only broke the laws of his time, they infringed upon the social norms, by offending the political and religious sentiments of an overtly servile religious public.

 

Paine’s Political Deviance – ‘The Rights of Man’

Paine published ‘The Rights of Man’ in two parts, the first part was published in 1791 and the second in 1792.[10]  This two-part series of pamphlets rode the barrelling waves of esteem and derision Paine’s work had garnered as a result of his immensely popular pamphlet ‘Common Sense’,[11] a pamphlet that is now favourably accused of having been a source of inspiration for the American Revolution.[12]

Paine wrote ‘The Rights of Man’ as a reply to his former friend turned counterrevolutionary, Edmund Burke, who, in 1790, published a scathing attack on the French Revolution entitled, ‘Reflections on the Revolution in France’.  Paine accused Burke of having taken a secret bribe from the British monarchy to write his book,[13] and King George III himself publically endorsed Burke’s book.[14] Despite its expense, it sold over 30,000 copies in the first two years [15] and was very popular amongst its target audience, namely, the landed gentry and aristocracy of England – an audience that constituted the apex-link in the great chain of British and European society.

Burke’s book betrays the social and legal codes of conduct of the late eighteenth century, particularly with regards to the temporalized ‘Great Chain of Being’, which, in Paine’s time, was believed to be the divine hierarchy that spanned from God on high to the rocks below.[16]  Every human being was believed to have had a divinely allotted position on this vertical chain that connected the lower material world to the heavenly invisible one – from divinely appointed kings to garbage-scrounging paupers.[17]  This neo-Platonic chain,[18] as further evinced within the literature of the day,[19] was believed to be the very sinew that kept societies ordered, that prevented the savage chaos of the animal kingdom from infecting the human one, and it fixed in place the privileged and oft-despotic thrones of aristocracy and theocracy, as well as the disease-ridden and famine-infused gutters of the poor and the meek.

Perhaps nowhere in Burke’s book was this premise so poignantly penned than within the following passage:

‘The occupation of a hair-dresser, or of a working tallow-chandler, cannot be a matter of honour to any person to say nothing of a number of other more servile employments. Such descriptions of men ought not to suffer oppression from the state; but the state suffers oppression, if such as they, either individually or collectively, are permitted to rule. In this you think you are combating prejudice, but you are at war with nature.’[20]

The belief that the governing aristocracy had been appointed by God, at least within the social context of Paine’s England, was rooted in the Bible:

‘Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.’[21]

This notion was further enunciated by Burke in his protesting of the meritocracy and republicanism which underscored not only the frightening French Revolution, but Paine’s sentiments in ‘The Rights of Man’:

‘On this scheme of things’, Burke writes, ‘a king is but a man, a queen is but a woman…On the scheme of this barbarous philosophy, which is the offspring of cold hearts and muddy understandings, and which is as void of solid wisdom as it is destitute of all taste and elegance, laws are to be supported only by their own terrors, and by the concern which each individual may find in them from his own private speculations, or can spare to them from his own private interests.’[22]

The ‘Great Chain of Being’ that had underscored British and European society for centuries,[23] and, to the people’s minds, kept their societies safe from the terrors of rude republicanism and savage meritocracy, in which the lowliest forms of human life would be able to participate in government, was now under serious threat in France with storming of the bastille (1789),[24] and in England with a war of pamphlets dubbed ‘The Revolution Controversy’.[25]

Paine’s pamphlet wasn’t the first in this propaganda war, but it became the most influential.  Two years prior to the publishing of Paine’s ‘The Rights of Man’, British feminist Mary Wollstonecraft had published her own response to Burke’s ‘Reflections’ entitled, ‘A Vindication of the Rights of Men’,[26] and it contained words and ideas just that were just as blasphemous, seditious and traitorous to the Crown.[27]

Why didn’t Mary’s pamphlet receive the same attention as Paine’s? And why wasn’t she indicted? As will soon be revealed, the answer to the latter question resides within the former. The short answer to both these questions appears to be simple – Mary was a woman in a time when women were but mere chattels,[28] so her pamphlet, despite its ferocious brilliance, was shrugged off as the pointless product of the harmless and irrational “passions” of a ‘woman’.[29]

Paine, on the other hand, was a man, and the first part of ‘The Rights of Man’, priced at three shillings, sold around 50,000 copies within the first year,[30] and the contents of its sequel were threatening enough to warrant the formal charge of ‘seditious libel against the Crown’.[31]

What was seditious libel against the Crown and what, specifically, was it in Paine’s pamphlet (‘The Rights of Man Part II’) that constituted formal deviance and led to his trial in absentia, prosecution, and death sentence?

The charge of ‘seditious libel against the Crown’ might be best defined as:

‘…the intentional publication of a writing that ”scandalized” the government, i.e., tended to bring it into disesteem.’[32]

As the Attorney General who prosecuted Paine in absentia notes, it was specifically the following passage that established his criminal guilt:

‘All hereditary government is in its nature tyranny. An heritable crown, or an heritable throne, or by what other fanciful name such things may be called, have no other significant explanation than that mankind are heritable property. To inherit a government, is to inherit the people, as if they were flocks and herds.’[33]

Paine’s reply to the initial letter of intent to prosecute him didn’t help his case, with Paine writing from France:

‘…whether you go on with the prosecution, or whether you do not, or whether you obtain a verdict or not, is a matter of the most perfect indifference to me as an individual…and with respect to yourself, it is as consistent that you obtain a verdict against the man in the moon as against me…’[34]

Was Paine’s deviance born from his first-hand knowledge of the inherent corruption of government he observed during his stint as an exciseman, or was it his poverty-stricken childhood, or was it, perhaps, the result of the persecution he and his family suffered due to his father’s heterodox (Quaker) religion?[35]  We don’t know, for, aside from his works and a handful of correspondence, most of the primary sources for Paine have been destroyed and the second-hand sources that do exist, come from those who despised him, thus making it difficult to discern such biographical details.[36]

Whatever his motivations, the reactions to his popular work, a popularity which was largely the result of his ‘vulgar’ writing style and the inexpensive price of his publications, caused him to be both formally convicted for his deviances and informally sanctioned.

Here we might contrast the minimal reaction to William Godwin’s ‘Enquiry Concerning Political Justice and its Influence on Morals and Happiness’, published in two volumes, which was inspired by, and written around the same time as, Paine’s ‘The Rights of Man’ – for it contained equally seditious and libellous material.[37]  The primary differences were that Godwin’s book was an expensive piece of literature written in a manner that made it virtually inaccessible to the common people of the day.[38] Thus, as was the case with Godwin’s wife’s (Mary Wollstonecraft) pamphlet, it failed to garner the necessary reaction that led to Paine’s formal indictment by the Crown.

Becker’s Theory of Deviance & Reaction

  According to Becker (1973):

‘…social groups create deviance by making the rules whose infraction constitutes deviance, and by applying those rules to particular people and labeling them as outsiders.’[39]

Following his discussion on Malinowski’s study of deviance amongst the peoples of the Trobriand Islands, Becker notes:

‘Whether an act is deviant then depends on how other people react to it.’[40]

We observe this theory in action with the disparate reactions and consequences for the publishing of three similar and equally seditious and libellous pieces of literature in Paine’s time, i.e., Wollstonecraft’s ‘A Vindication of the Rights of Men’, Godwin’s ‘Enquiry Concerning Political Justice and its Influence on Morals and Happiness’, and Paine’s ‘The Rights of Man’.  As mentioned, Wollstonecraft was ‘just a woman’, not to be taken seriously, and Godwin’s work was too expensive and written in a manner that prevented it from causing a large reaction amongst the largely uneducated masses, but Paine’s work was both inexpensive and written in a style that made it accessible to a broad readership, which resulted in the labelling and subsequent sanctioning of Paine.[41]

Paine’s Religious Deviance – ‘The Age of Reason’

   In the modern Islamic world, blasphemy is a crime punishable by either imprisonment or death,[42] yet in the modern secular world, thanks in large part to blasphemers and infidels such as Paine, blasphemy laws are now, for the most part, either non-existent or, as Becker (1978) would say, ‘blue laws, which remain on the statute books though they have not been enforced for years’.[43]

In Paine’s day, however, blasphemy laws were not only on the statute books, they were vigorously enforced.[44]

To say that ‘The Age of Reason’, which was published in three parts from 1794-1807, was blasphemous for its time, would be a gross understatement.  The following is just one of many examples of the blasphemous content of that work:

‘The Christian theory is little else than the idolatry of the ancient mythologists, accommodated to the purposes of power and revenue; and it yet remains to reason and philosophy to abolish the amphibious fraud.’[45]

But this was by no means the extent of Paine’s blasphemies:

‘…it [the Bible] is a book of lies, wickedness, and blasphemy; for what can be greater blasphemy, than to ascribe the wickedness of man to the orders of the Almighty!’[46]

One could scarcely imagine the shock and disgust that such sentiments would have evoked in the overtly religious populous of Paine’s day. ‘The Age of Reason’ was, to the fullest extent of both the term and the charge, blasphemous.

To show just how blasphemous Paine’s work was, we need only tender the trials of those who dared publish it in countries in which it was outlawed, the most famous of which was the trial of Richard Carlile (1818), who, in open court, defiantly had the entirety of ‘The Age of Reason’ read into the court record.[47]  Carlile was charged with blasphemy and subsequently sentenced to imprisonment.[48]

Drawing upon primary sources for a definition of blasphemy in early nineteenth-century England, Nash (2007) reports:

‘In the cases against Richard Carlile’s shopmen for selling copies of the Republican or Thomas Paine’s Age of Reason, the witnesses were questioned by the prosecuting counsel as to what they understood by the term ‘blasphemy’. The answers given by these individuals give clear insights into the popular nineteenth-century understanding of the offence of blasphemy. William Smith, testifying against an unknown individual, described blasphemy as ‘Speaking against God and the scriptures…Henry Baldwin Raven, testifying against James Clark in 1824, defined it as: ‘Any publication which has a tendency to vilify the Bible, the Christian Religion, or our Lord Jesus Christ.’ William Wilson, a Bow Street Runner testifying against Thomas Riley Perry in the same year, saw it as ‘any attempt to vilify the Christian Religion, promulgated by our Saviour and his Apostles’.⁹ These definitions, emanating from prosecution witnesses, saw blasphemy as a deliberate act which threatened the moral and material safety of the nation.’[49]

In 1797, Thomas Williams was charged and prosecuted for both seditious libel and blasphemous libel, for publishing ‘The Age of Reason’.[50]  Within this trial, the reasons for Williams’ prosecution, which accord with the ‘moral and material safety’ arguments reported by Nash (2007), were enunciated in the following words:

‘There can be no doubt that the pamphlet alluded to may be prosecuted at Common Law as a libel on the religion of the state.  It was decided in Taylor’s case, 1 Ventris 293, and 3 Keble 607, that blasphemy was not only an offense to God and religion, but a crime against the laws, state, and government…for to say religion is a cheat, is to dissolve all those obligations whereby civil societies are preserved’.[51]

This same sentiment regarding the preservation of civil order was further reflected in Benjamin Franklin’s letter to Paine, in which Franklin gently yet firmly reprimanded his friend, writing:

‘You yourself may find it easy to live a virtuous Life, without the Assistance afforded by Religion…But think how great a Proportion of Mankind consists of weak and ignorant Men and Women…who have need of the Motives of Religion to restrain them from Vice, to support their Virtue, and retain them in the Practice of it till it becomes habitual, which is the great Point for its Security.’[52]

Because of his concern for the welfare of his friend and the reason stated above, Franklin advised Paine ‘…not to attempt unchaining the Tyger, but to burn this Piece before it is seen by any other Person.’[53] Needless to say, Paine didn’t heed Franklin’s advice.

Here we observe an informal reaction to Paine’s formal and informal deviance, and it wasn’t the only informal reaction to Paine’s published blasphemies, nor was it nearly the harshest.

Consider the reaction of Theodore Roosevelt, who posthumously referred to Paine as ‘a filthy little atheist’,[54] or John Adams, who, in discussing ‘The Age of Reason’ exclaimed:

‘I am willing you call this Age of Frivolity as you do, and would not object if you had have named it the Age of Folly, Vice, Frenzy, Brutality, Daemons, Buonaparte, Tom Paine, or the Age of the Burning Brand from the Bottomless Pit’.[55]

To list the entire tome of insults launched at Paine for his blasphemous work would require much more space than is permitted here, however, it should be noted, sadly, that many of these insults, and much of the vitriol aimed at Paine came from former friends and admirers,[56] and sadder still, none of his former confederates, not even his friend Thomas Jefferson, who had greatly admired Paine’s invaluable contribution to his cause, attended this reviled heretic’s funeral – instead, on that dark day in June, 1809, only a very small handful of people were in attendance,[57] and despite his courageous contributions to modern society, his obituary spitefully read:

‘He had lived long, did some good, and much harm.’[58]

Had it not been for Robert G. Ingersoll, Paine’s pivotal role in the American Revolution would probably never have even been a footnote in the annals of American history.[59]

Conclusion

Despite Franklin’s advice, Thomas Paine did unchain the tiger, and it went forth to devour religious oppression and aristocratic tyranny, and in so devouring, Paine’s common sense deviance helped to sow the seeds that eventually blossomed into the rights of free speech and free thought enshrined within the American Constitution and the Charter of the United Nations.  His selfless deviance, however, came at great expense to Paine, for the social, legal and religious codes of his day caused him to be formally prosecuted, harassed, derided by former friends and allies, and it eventually led to his lonely and inauspicious burial. Yet despite the expense to himself, his deviance was the soil in which the democratic rights of the formerly oppressed masses was sown, at least within the secular societies that have benefited from his self-sacrificing deviance.

“All great truths begin as blasphemies” and “the infidels of one age become the aureoled saints of the next”. Such statements are not only vindicated by the path to freedom tirelessly carved by Thomas Paine, but they also betoken the core principles of the sociological theory of deviance, for it is exclusively within the specific social context that deviance finds its estate, and, as has been evinced within this essay, one person’s deviant is another’s saint.

There is no better way to conclude this essay, than to quote from the core of Thomas Paine’s motivating ethos, an ethos that in his own time made him a blasphemer, a heretic, an infidel and a seditious traitor, and in ours, an aureoled saint.

‘In stating these matters, I speak an open and disinterested language, dictated by no passion but that of humanity. To me, who have not only refused offers, because I thought them improper, but have declined rewards I might with reputation have accepted, it is no wonder that meanness and imposition appear disgustful. Independence is my happiness, and I view things as they are, without regard to place or person; my country is the world, and my religion is to do good.’[60]

End Notes:

  1. George Bernard Shaw, ‘Annajanska’(1919), cited in: ‘George Bernard Shaw: Shorter Plays’, New York, 1960, p. 61.
  2. Robert G. Ingersoll, ‘The Great Infidels’, New York, 1921, p. 308.
  3. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ‘Thomas Paine’, Jul. 18th, 2013, cited at: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/paine/#SigLeg, accessed on 20th Sept, 2015.
  4. Craig Nelson, ‘Thomas Paine – Enlightenment, Revolution, And the Birth of Modern Nations’, New York, 2006, Kindle Location (KL) #1238-1250.
  5. Eric Foner, ‘Tom Paine and Revolutionary America’, Oxford, 2005, pp. 248-249.
  6. Robert Lamb, ‘Thomas Paine and the Idea of Human Rights’, Cambridge, 2015.
  7. Craig Nelson, ‘Thomas Paine – Enlightenment, Revolution, And the Birth of Modern Nations’, New York, 2006, (KL) #1336; Arthur O. Lovejoy, ‘The Great Chain of Being’, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1936, p. 228.
  8. Margaret L. Anderson & Howard E. Taylor, ‘Sociology: The Essentials, 7th’, Belmont, CA, 2013, p.144.
  9. Ibid.
  10. Craig Nelson, ‘Thomas Paine: Enlightenment, Revolution, and the Birth of Modern Nations’, New York, 2006, Kindle Location (KL) #3635, 3910.
  11. Isaac Kramnick, Introduction,’ in Thomas Paine, ‘Common Sense’, New York, 1986, p. 8.
  12. Gordon S. Wood, ‘The American Revolution: A History’, New York, 2002, pp. 54-55; Harvey J. Kaye, ‘Thomas Paine: Firebrand of the Revolution’, Oxford, 2000, p. 7.
  13. Craig Nelson, ‘Thomas Paine: Enlightenment, Revolution, and the Birth of Modern Nations’, New York, 2006, Kindle Location (KL) #3576-3589; Jesse Norman, ‘Edmund Burke: The First Conservative’, New York, 2013, p. 3.
  14. Andrew Bailey, Samantha Brennan, Will Kymlicka, Jacob Levy, Alex Sager & Clark Wolf, ‘The Broadview Anthology of Social and Political Thought, Vol. 1: From Plato to Nietzsche’, Ontario, 2008, p. 828; Craig Nelson, ‘Thomas Paine: Enlightenment, Revolution, and the Birth of Modern Nations’, New York, 2006, (KL) #3545-3558.
  15. Marilyn Butler, ‘Burke, Paine, Godwin, and the Revolution Controversy’, Cambridge, 1984, p.35.
  16. Arthur O. Lovejoy, ‘The Great Chain of Being: The Study of the History of an Idea’, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1936, p. 234.
  17. Andrew Hiscock, ‘The Renaissance: 1485-1660’, in Paul Poplawski, Cambridge, 2008, p. 171.
  18. Angela Ales Bello, ‘Analecta Husserliana: The Yearbook of Phenomenological Research, Vol. XI – The Great Chain of Being and Italian Phenomenology’, Dordrecht, Holland, 1981, 113.
  19. Mark Goldie & Robert Wolker, ‘The Cambridge History of Eighteenth-Century Political Thought’, Cambridge, 2006, p. 197; Andrew Hiscock, ‘The Renaissance: 1485-1660’, in Paul Poplawski, Cambridge, 2008, p. 144.
  20. Edmund Burke, ‘Reflections on the Revolution in France’, cited in: ‘Everyman’s Library, No. 460: Essays & Belles-Lettres’, London, 1910, p. 47.
  21. The Bible, Romans 13:1-2, New International Version.
  22. Edmund Burke, ‘Reflections on the Revolution in France’, cited in: ‘Everyman’s Library, No. 460: Essays & Belles-Lettres’, London, 1910, pp. 74-75.
  23. Arthur O. Lovejoy, ‘The Great Chain of Being: The Study of the History of an Idea’, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1936, pp. 183-207.
  24. Gorsas, ‘Le Courrier de Versailles a Paris et de Paris a Versailles I, nos. 8-13 (13-20 July 1789)’, cited in: Hans-Jürgen Lüsebrink & Rolf Reichardt, ‘The Bastille: A History of a Symbol of Despotism and Freedom’, London, 1997, p.247.
  25. Marilyn Butler, ‘Burke, Paine, Godwin, and the Revolution Controversy’, Cambridge, 1984, p. 2.
  26. Mary Wollstonecraft, ‘A Vindication of the Rights of Men: With A Vindication of the Rights of Women and Hints’, in Sylvana Tomaselli, ‘Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought’, Cambridge, 1995, p. 356.
  27. Ibid. p. 10, 20, 37.
  28. Dr Chris Roulston, ‘Narrating Marriage in Eighteenth-Century England and France’, Ontario, 2010, p. 21.
  29. Jane Hodson, ‘Language and Revolution in Burke, Wollstonecraft, Paine, and Godwin’, Hampshire, 2008, p. 80; ‘Gentleman’s Magazine’, Jan, 1791, LXI, 151-4, cited in: Janet M. Todd, ‘Mary Wollstonecraft: An Annotated Bibliography’, London, 1976, p. 14.
  30. Jane Hodson, ‘Language and Revolution in Burke, Wollstonecraft, Paine, and Godwin’, Hampshire, 2008, p. 124.
  31. Hodgson (ed.),‘The Genuine Trial of Thomas Paine, For A Libel Contained in the Second Part of Rights of Man’, London, 1792.
  32. Thomas Andrew Green, ‘Verdict According to Conscience: Perspectives on the English Criminal Trial Jury 1200-1800’, Chicago, 1985, p. 319.
  33. Ibid. p. 8.
  34. Ibid. p. 24.
  35. John Keane, ‘Tom Paine: A Political Life’, New York, 1995, p. 368; Craig Nelson, ‘Thomas Paine: Enlightenment, Revolution, and the Birth of Modern Nations’, New York, 2006, (KL) 793.
  36. J. Ayer, ‘Thomas Paine’, Chicago, 1988, p. 151.
  37. William Godwin, ‘Enquiry Concerning Political Justice and its Influence on Morals and Happiness, Vol. 2, 4th, London, 1842, pp. 19, 220-221.
  38. Marilyn Butler, ‘Burke, Paine, Godwin, and the Revolution Controversy’, Cambridge, 1984, p. 149; Andrew McCann, ‘The Literary Encyclopedia.Volume 1.1.06English Writing and Culture of the Romantic Period, 1789-1837’, cited at: https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=5358, accessed on 1st Oct, 2015.
  39. Howard S. Becker, ‘Outsiders: Studies in the Sociology of Deviance’, New York, 1973, p. 9.
  40. Ibid. p. 11.
  41. John Keane, ‘Tom Paine: A Political Life’, New York, 1995, p. 296.
  42. The Legal Project: ‘Blasphemy in the Muslim World’, cited at: http://www.legal-project.org/docs/cat/15, accessed on 1st Oct, 2015.
  43. Howard S. Becker, ‘Outsiders: Studies in the Sociology of Deviance’, New York, 1973, p. 2.
  44. ‘May 1648: An Ordinance for the punishing of Blasphemies and Heresies, with the several penalties therein expressed,’ cited at: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/acts-ordinances-interregnum/pp1133-1136, accessed 20 Aug. 2015; ‘Jared W. Bell’s Case’, Daniel Rogers (ed.), ‘The New York City-Hall Recorder for the Year 1821’, New York, 1822, pp. 38-42; G.W. Foote, ‘Prisoner for Blasphemy’, London, 1886, cited at: http://www.ftarchives.net/foote/blasphemy/0bcontents.htm, accessed on 10th Aug, 2015; Rex v Taylor (1676), in Elliott Visconsi, ‘The Invention of Criminal Blasphemy: Rex v Taylor (1676)’, cited at: http://www.academia.edu/725087/The_Invention_of_Criminal_Blasphemy_Rex_v._Taylor_1676_, accessed on 11th Aug, 2015.
  45. Thomas Paine, ‘The Age of Reason’, cited in: Philip S. Foner (ed.), ‘The Complete Writings of Thomas Paine, Vol. 1’, New York, 1945, p. 467.
  46. Ibid. p. 529.
  47. ‘The Report of the Proceedings of the Court of King’s Bench in the Guildhall, London, on the 12th, 13th, 14th & 15th Days of October; Being the Mock Trials of Richard Carlile for Alleged Blasphemous Libels, in Publishing Thomas Paine’s Theological Works and Elihu Palmer’s Principles of Nature: Before Lord Chief Justice Abbott, and Special Juries’, London, 1822; David Nash, ‘Blasphemy in the Christian World: A History’, Oxford, 2007, p. 76.
  48. Ibid. p. 128.
  49. Ibid. p. 5.
  50. Note: Within the trial records, the Judge further highlights Becker’s theory of deviance and reaction, by remarking that the first part of Paine’s pamphlet didn’t receive too much attention, and that it wasn’t until the more popular second part was published in 1795, that it ‘excited a general avidity to read the book, particularly among the middling and lower classes of life’, and that it was being widely published from southern England to Scotland, which is the reason given for why the book became suppressed: ‘Proceedings Against Thomas Williams for Publishing Paine’s “Age of Reason;” Tried by a Special Jury in the Court of King’s-Bench, Westminster, before the Right Honourable Lloyd Lord Kenyon on the 24th Day of June: 37 George III. A.D. 1797’, cited in: T.B. Howell, Esq., & Thomas Jones Howell Esq., ‘A Complete Collection of State Trials and Proceedings for High Treason and Other Crimes and Misdemeanors from the Earliest Period to the Year 1783, Vol. XXVI’, London, 1819, pp. 654-720.
  51. Ibid. p. 654.
  52. Franklin, Benjamin, A Letter to Thomas Paine Concerning Paine’s Book, The Age of Reason, Philadelphia, July 3rd, 1786 (?), cited in: Franklin, Benjamin, The Writings of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. 9, A.H. Smyth (ed.), New York, 1906, p. 521.
  53. Ibid.
  54. Susan Jacoby, ‘Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism’, New York, 2004, p. 5.
  55. Craig Nelson, ‘Thomas Paine – Enlightenment, Revolution, And the Birth of Modern Nations’, New York, 2006, (KL) #240-251.
  56. See Paine’s former admirer William Cobbett, who described the transformation of Paine from revered patriot into devil’s spawn, and who, launched numerous slanders against Paine after Paine published ‘The Age of Reason’: Authors (Various), ‘The Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 4, No. 21, July, 1859, cited in: Susan Jacoby, ‘Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism’, New York, 2004, p. 36.
  57. Harvey J. Kaye, ‘Thomas Paine: Firebrand of the Revolution’, Oxford, 2000, p. 143.
  58. ‘The New York Evening Post’, June 10, 1809, cited at: http://www.classicapologetics.com/special/PaineEP.06-10-1809.pdf, accessed on 03rd Oct, 2015.
  59. Robert G. Ingersoll, ‘The Great Infidels’, New York, 1921, pp. 381-389; Susan Jacoby, ‘Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism’, New York, 2004, p. 5.
  60. Thomas Paine, ‘The Rights of Man’, cited in: Philip S. Foner (ed.), ‘The Complete Writings of Thomas Paine, Vol. 1’, New York, 1945, pp. 413-414.

Bibliography

Primary Sources

Burke, Edmund, ‘Reflections on the Revolution in France’, cited in: ‘Everyman’s Library, No. 460: Essays & Belles-Lettres’, London, J.M. Dent & Sons, Ltd., 1910.

Foote, G. W., ‘Prisoner for Blasphemy’, London, 1886, cited at: http://www.ftarchives.net/foote/blasphemy/0bcontents.htm, accessed on 10th Aug, 2015.

Franklin, Benjamin, A Letter to Thomas Paine Concerning Paine’s Book, The Age of Reason, Philadelphia, July 3rd, 1786 (?), cited in: Franklin, Benjamin, The Writings of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. 9, A.H. Smyth (ed.), New York, The Macmillan Company, 1906.

Gentleman’s Magazine’, Jan, 1791, LXI, 151-4, cited in: Janet M. Todd, Janet M., ‘Mary Wollstonecraft: An Annotated Bibliography’, London, Routledge, 1976.

Godwin, William, ‘Enquiry Concerning Political Justice and its Influence on Morals and Happiness, Vol. 2, 4th ed.’, London, J. Watson, 1842.

Gorsas, ‘Le Courrier de Versailles a Paris et de Paris a Versailles I, nos. 8-13 (13-20 July 1789)’, cited in: Hans-Jürgen Lüsebrink & Rolf Reichardt, ‘The Bastille: A History of a Symbol of Despotism and Freedom’, London, Duke University Press, 1997.

Hodgson, E. (ed.), ‘The Genuine Trial of Thomas Paine, For A Libel Contained in the Second Part of Rights of Man’, London, Printed for J.S. Jordan, 1792.

‘May 1648: An Ordinance for the punishing of Blasphemies and Heresies, with the several penalties therein expressed,’ cited at: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/acts-ordinances-interregnum/pp1133-1136, accessed 20 Aug. 2015.

Paine, Thomas, ‘Common Sense’, New York, Penguin Books, 1986.

Paine, Thomas, ‘The Age of Reason’, cited in: Foner, Philip S., (ed.), ‘The Complete Writings of Thomas Paine, Vol. 1’, New York, The Citadel Press, 1945.

Paine, Thomas, ‘The Rights of Man’, cited in: Philip S. Foner (ed.), ‘The Complete Writings of Thomas Paine, Vol. 1’, New York, Citadel Press, 1945.

‘Proceedings Against Thomas Williams for Publishing Paine’s “Age of Reason;” Tried by a Special Jury in the Court of King’s-Bench, Westminster, before the Right Honourable Lloyd Lord Kenyon on the 24th Day of June: 37 George III. A.D. 1797’, cited in: T.B. Howell, T. B., Esq. & Howell, Thomas Jones, Esq., ‘A Complete Collection of State Trials and Proceedings for High Treason and Other Crimes and Misdemeanors from the Earliest Period to the Year 1783, Vol. XXVI’, London, Printed by T. C. Hansard, 1819.

Rex v Taylor (1676), in Elliott Visconsi, ‘The Invention of Criminal Blasphemy: Rex v Taylor (1676)’, cited at: http://www.academia.edu/725087/The_Invention_of_Criminal_Blasphemy_Rex_v._Taylor_1676_, accessed on 11th Aug, 2015.

Rogers, Daniel (ed.), ‘Jared W. Bell’s Case’, ‘The New York City-Hall Recorder for the Year 1821’, New York, Printed by E. B. Clayton, 1822.

‘The Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 4, No. 21, July, 1859, cited in: Susan Jacoby, ‘Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism’, New York, Henry Holt and Company, 2004.

The Bible, Romans 13:1-2, New International Version.

The New York Evening Post, June 10, 1809’, cited at: http://www.classicapologetics.com/special/PaineEP.06-10-1809.pdf, accessed on 03rd Oct, 2015.

‘The Report of the Proceedings of the Court of King’s Bench in the Guildhall, London, on the 12th, 13th, 14th & 15th Days of October; Being the Mock Trials of Richard Carlile for Alleged Blasphemous Libels, in Publishing Thomas Paine’s Theological Works and Elihu Palmer’s Principles of Nature: Before Lord Chief Justice Abbott, and Special Juries’, London, R. Carlile, 1822.

Wollstonecraft, Mary, ‘A Vindication of the Rights of Men: With A Vindication of the Rights of Women and Hints’, cited in: Sylvana Tomaselli, ‘Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought’, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Secondary Sources

Anderson, Margaret L. & Taylor, Howard E., ‘Sociology: The Essentials, 7th Ed.’, Belmont, CA, Wadsworth Cengage, 2013.

Ayer, A. J., ‘Thomas Paine’, Chicago, The University of Chicago Press, 1988.

Bailey, Andrew, Brennan, Samantha, Kymlicka, Will, Levy, Jacob, Sager, Alex & Wolf, Clark, ‘The Broadview Anthology of Social and Political Thought, Vol. 1: From Plato to Nietzsche’, Ontario, Broadview Press, 2008.

Becker, Howard S., ‘Outsiders: Studies in the Sociology of Deviance’, New York, Free Press in Glencoe, 1973.

Bello, Angela Ales, ‘Analecta Husserliana: The Yearbook of Phenomenological Research, Vol. XI – The Great Chain of Being and Italian Phenomenology’, Dordrecht, Holland, D. Reidel Publishing Company, 1981.

Butler, Marilyn, ‘Burke, Paine, Godwin, and the Revolution Controversy’, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1984.

Foner, Eric, ‘Tom Paine and Revolutionary America’, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2005.

Goldie, Mark & Wolker, Robert, ‘The Cambridge History of Eighteenth-Century Political Thought’, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2006.

Green, Thomas Andrew, ‘Verdict According to Conscience: Perspectives on the English Criminal Trial Jury 1200-1800’, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1985.

Hiscock, Andrew, ‘The Renaissance: 1485-1660’, in Paul Poplawski, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2008.

Hodson, Jane, ‘Language and Revolution in Burke, Wollstonecraft, Paine, and Godwin’, Hampshire, Ashgate, 2008.

Ingersoll, Robert G. ‘The Great Infidels’, New York, C.P. Farrell Publisher, 1921.

Jacoby, Susan, ‘Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism’, New York, Henry Hold and Company, 2004.

Kaye, Harvey J., ‘Thomas Paine: Firebrand of the Revolution’, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2000.

Keane, John, ‘Tom Paine: A Political Life’, New York, 1995, p. 368; Craig Nelson, ‘Thomas Paine: Enlightenment, Revolution, and the Birth of Modern Nations’, New York, Grove Press, 2006.

Lamb, Robert, ‘Thomas Paine and the Idea of Human Rights’, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2015.

Lovejoy, Arthur O., ‘The Great Chain of Being’, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University Press, 1936.

McCann, Andrew, ‘The Literary Encyclopedia. Volume 1.1.1.06English Writing and Culture of the Romantic Period, 1789-1837’, cited at: https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=5358, accessed on 1st Oct, 2015.

Middlekauff, Robert, ‘The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763-1789’, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2005.

Nash, David, ‘Blasphemy in the Christian World: A History’, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2007.

Nelson, Craig, ‘Thomas Paine – Enlightenment, Revolution, And the Birth of Modern Nations’, New York, Penguin Books, 2006.

Norman, Jesse, ‘Edmund Burke: The First Conservative’, New York, Basic Books, 2013.

Roulston, Chris, ‘Narrating Marriage in Eighteenth-Century England and France’, Ontario, Ashgate, 2010.

Shaw, George Bernard, ‘George Bernard Shaw: Shorter Plays’, New York, Dodd, Mead & Company, 1960.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ‘Thomas Paine’, Jul. 18th, 2013, cited at: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/paine/#SigLeg, accessed on 20th Sept, 2015.

The Legal Project: ‘Blasphemy in the Muslim World’, cited at: http://www.legal-project.org/docs/cat/15, accessed on 1st Oct, 2015.

Wood, Gordon S., ‘The American Revolution: A History’, New York, Modern Library, 2002.

3 thoughts on “Thomas Paine: Rights, Reason and Common Sense Deviance

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s