This Week's Story

Thomas Jefferson and a prejudiced English farmer present true horror for Thomas Paine.

This Week’s Story relives American history and the Bible through brief inspiring stories presented on mp3 audio recordings and text for reading.

We the People, part two

“Thomas Paine is an amateur clown, gross and ill-educated.  Why should anyone read his nonsense?”

“Sir, may I compliment you on your mastery of unfair description.  What other qualifications do you have for judging Thomas Paine or his writing?  I know that you are an English gentleman of the 1700’s.  You are not accountable to people you believe to be inferior to yourself, people of lower classes.  You taught Thomas well what nonsense your privileges are.  You have them because you were born into the right family and into the upper class of people.  You received no training for your title or responsibilities as  squire.

“You think Thomas is inferior to you and your class.  His family was tenants on your family’s land. You bullied Tom.  When you were both about fifteen, you and three of your friends caught him and beat him until he was unconscious.  Then you hanged him by one foot from an oak tree.  He looked like he was dead; so you cut him down.  But, he was still alive.  So you stripped off his clothes, rolled him in mud, revived him with whiskey, whipped him more, and sent him home naked.  When your father heard about it, he laughed.”

“Mr. Thomas Jefferson, surely you realize that is an extreme story.”

“Yes, I do, because I have English friends of the aristocracy that would find such behavior despicable.  But, there was no legal protection for Thomas from you, a son of the privileged class.

  “Later a drunkard boat captain repeatedly covered Thomas’ body with bruises, when he briefly was a cabin boy.  From job to job he went with growing anger against a country where a baby was born to be high or low class. When he came to the New World he was thirty-eight, bitter, and low on hope. He wandered the streets of Philadelphia and saw a world with possibilities for freedom and dignity for rich or poor, slave or free.

“Squire, I understand why you speak respectfully to me as Mr. Thomas Jefferson, even though I am an American.  You consider me an aristocrat. You approve of my clothing and vocabulary. My father has been a successful planter.  My mother is a member of one of Virginia’s most distinguished families.  I received a quality formal education with no concern for degrees.

“Do you know also that I believe that ‘all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.  That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.’  Perhaps you recognize those lines as from the American Declaration of Independence.”

“Yes, I do recognize those unfortunate lines.  Your friendship with Thomas Paine has not helped you.”

“You are wrong. I write what my mind believes and has studied.  Thomas has lived in the prison of the common man in England. His back and head know the rights for which we Americans fight and why they will come only if we are an independent nation.  He understands that these rights are God-given and that we must build a nation where government recognizes and protects them.  This man, whom you call an amateur clown, has explained these ideas powerfully in his little book Common Sense.

“As you return to England, please remember these words from Thomas Paine.  ‘Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict the more glorious the triumph.’”

This is Barbara Steiner with the opportunity and responsibility to participate in representative democracy.  Please check out thisweeksstory.com.

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