Nov 26

President Roosevelt and Thomas Paine

By John E. Remsburg—March, 1902

John E. RemsburgOak Mills, Kansas: President Roosevelt in his “Life of Gouverneur Morris” (p. 288), characterizes Thomas Paine, one of the founders of our Republic, a gentleman whose personal appearance and habits were above reproach, a man who was physically and intellectually as large as Mr. Roosevelt is, and a devout believer in God, as a “filthy little Atheist.”

For his misinformation concerning Paine Mr. Roosevelt was probably indebted to the subject of his biography, a personal enemy of Paine’s, and to the clergy, whose principal arguments against the “Age of Reason” consist of misrepresentation and abuse of its author.

In the ranks of the clergy, however, are to be found many honorable exceptions and from the pulpit have come some of the warmest tributes to the author-hero’s worth.

The following utterances of twenty clergymen of Europe and America present a pleasing contrast, and furnish an eloquent answer to this unfortunate blunder of our President:

Rev. Minot J. Savage

“No man rendered grander service to this country; no man ought to be more cherished or remembered.”

Rev. Abiel Holmes, D.D.

“Common Sense” written by Thomas l1ailie, produced great effect.”

Rev. William Gordon

“Nothing could have been better timed than this performance.”

Rev. Jedidiah Morse

“The change of the public mind on this occasion is without a parallel.”

Rev. John Snyder

“Paine did more than any other single man to create this nation. I simply speak what will someday be the sober judgment of history.”

Thomas PaineRev. Solomon Southwick

“No page in history, stained as it is with treachery and falsehood, or cold-blooded indifference to right or wrong, exhibits a more disgraceful instance of public ingratitude than that which Thomas Paine experienced from an age and country which he had so faithfully served.

“Had Thomas Paine been a Grecian or Roman patriot in olden times, and performed the same services as he did for this country, he would have had the honor of an Apotheosis. The Pantheon would have been opened to him, and we should at this day regard his memory with the same veneration that we do that of Socrates or Cicero.”

Rev. S. Fletcher Williams

“Paine’s services were such as to place America and Europe under a debt of gratitude to him. He has suffered in the estimation of the world from his tone and manner on religion, but, essentially, his principles were right and to-day an increasing number of religious teachers and religious-minded men stand only where he stood a century ago.

Rev. William Channing Gannett

“What wonder that Thomas Paine wrote his strong, rank sarcasm? People should remember why he wrote it.”

Rev. J. Lloyd Jones

“Great souls are the keystones in the arches that unite the race … German provincialism died when Lessing, Schiller and Goethe were born; for they arched all chasms, and Germany ever afterwards is related to the best and bravest everywhere. The insignificant island lost its insular character when Shakspeare wrote. He gave to England a place in the brotherhood of nations. The emaciated thirteen colonies became great when Washington, Franklin, Paine and Jefferson spoke for them.”

Rev. John W. Chadwick

“A prisoner deserted by the young Republic at whose birth he had assisted so efficiently, his life in jeopardy for the humanity of his opinions.”

ABBE Joseph Emmanuel Sieyes

“Where is the patriotic Frenchman who has not already, from the depths of his soul, thanked him for having fortified our cause with all the power of his reason and his reputation?”

Bishop of Llandaff

There is a philosophical sublimity in some of your ideas.”

Rev. Moncure D. Conway

“Thomas Paine was a devout believer in God and immortality, and died with the expression of that faith on his lips.”

“All efforts to stain the good name of Thomas Paine have recoiled on those who made them. like poisoned arrows shot against a strong wind. In his life, in his justice, in his truth, in his adherence to high principles, in his disinterestedness, I look in vain for a parallel in those times and in these times.”

Rev. Willet Hicks

“I was with him every day during the latter part of his sickness. He died as easy as any man I ever saw die, and I have seen many men die.” “He was a good man—an honest man.”

Rev. Theodore Parker

“His instincts were human and elevated, and his life devoted mainly to the great purposes of humanity. I think he did more to promote piety and morality among men than a hundred ministers of that age in America.”

Rev. George Croly

“An impartial estimate of this remarkable person has been rarely formed, and still more rarely expressed. He was assuredly one of the original men of the age in which he lived.”

Rev. O.B. Frothingham

“No private character has been more foully calumniated in the name of God than that of Thomas Paine.”

Rev. James Kay Applebee

“I see Thomas Paine as he looms up in history—a great, grand figure. The reputation bigots have created for him fades away, even as the creeds for which they raved and lied, fade away: but distinct and luminous, there remains the noble character of Paine created by himself.”

Rev. Dr. David Swing

“He was one of the best and grandest men that ever trod this planet.”

Rev. Dr. John E. Roberts

“So long as human rights are sacred and their defenders held in grateful remembrance: so long as liberty has a flag flung to the skies, a sanctuary in the hearts oi men, so long upon the eternal granite of history, luminous as light and imperishable as the stars, will be engraved the name of Thomas Paine.”