That old-time skepticism

In 1809, Thomas Paine died in poverty, alcoholism and obscurity. Only a dozen people attended his funeral, and few American newspapers bothered to mention his death.

Had Paine’s death occurred in the late 1770s, it would have caused tremendous joy in the hearts of American loyalists and a corresponding outpouring of grief from patriots. “’Tis time to part,” proclaimed Paine in Common Sense, his antimonarchical, anti-Catholic, anti-elitist tract that helped galvanize support for American independence.


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