How YOU doin?
Anyone here remember me? Anyone at all? I'm the guy with Georges hair, Toms cravat, Johns jacket and Steves smile?
Ok....you people are ridicules. If you didnt read yesterdays post, go back to history class. If you did read yesterdays post, the pass the Dutchie 'pon the left hand side....
I mean...uh...if you have a dutchie, I guess. Not that I know what a dutchie is. It's a dutch oven from Jamaica, right? It has nothing to do with Ozzys Sweet Leaf, right?
So, it's Friday, which means yesterday was Thursday. At least, for you it is. It's actually Thursday for me. Because this isn't a live blog. It's just a blog. Blog. Blawg. Blog is a funny word. It sounds like something you do in private, because if you did it in public, people would flee and you'd go to jail.
Anyway, back to the subject at hand; Friday. Yesterdays oddity was so long, I had to spilt it into two. Let me rephrase that. The way I worded it, it makes it sound like I already wrote the whole thing and just chopped it in half. I didn't. I still have to write todays post.
Since this is a part two, I suppose I should recap the first half, just like they do on tv.
I should, but I'm not going to. How many times do I have to say this; I'M LAZY, PEOPLE!
Oh fine. Small recap.
Thomas Paine. Born in England, hated by all, moved to America and suggested independence while still being hated by all.
And now, for the exciting conclusion to the Adventures of Thomas Paine!
When we last left Tommy, he had been given a small sum of cash by Pennsylvania and a farm by New York. But that was about it. There wasn't anything for him to do. The rebellion was over, so his style of writing was not what people wanted. It certainly wasn't what the fledgling government wanted.
So, Tom look back across the waves to his original home. He sailed for England for reasons unknown, and arrived in 1789 just as the French Revolution was getting started. He had dealt with some of the French during the war, so he kept his eye on things.
In 1791, a British member of parliament wrote the book, 'Reflections on the Revolution in France'. It was an attack on the common man who were fighting against the wealthy and the royalty, just trying to improve their lot in life a little.
And they needed improvements. The lower, working class in France were lucky if they could afford diner. And most of France was in this class. While the rich had more than they could consume, of everything. From food, to free time.
After seeing this attack by one of the elite rich against the poor of another country, Paine did what he did best; He wrote a book. It was called 'The Rights of Man', and it instantly became a best seller. (to this day it's considered a classic political book). It was, in fact, the best selling book of the entire 18th century.
The problem was, Paine didn't just defend the revolution in France. He also attacked the monarchy, the rich, those in power, governments he deemed unfair, and basically everything else. And he didn't reserve his criticism to just France. He included England in his ranting.
Included in the book were Paines ideas for how a government should be run. Including such policies as welfare, free educations, fair taxes, and others that really bothered the rich, elite classes in England.
So, the crown declared Paine a traitor and issued a warrant for his arrest. The king also commissioned memorial coins with Paines face on them. They were freely distributed to the wealthy elite, and they set them into the heels of their shoes so they could symbolically grind Paine to dust as they walked.
Paine was an asshole, but he wasn't stupid. He had seen the signs, and was able to flee to France before the warrant was issued.
The French, not realizing what kind of guy he was, had elected him to the revolutionary government. And, they came to regret that decision. Because Tom hadn't improved at all since he left America.
When the debate about the execution of the king came up, Paine was one of the few who protested against it. And, that wasn't a good idea.
Remember yesterday when I said I was going to introduce you to someone who may possibly be a bigger asshole that Paine? Well get ready, here he is....
The leader of the revolutionary government was Maximilien Robespierre. And Max was a first rate asshole. It was Max who made it policy to chop off the heads of anyone whom they felt were against the revolution. And, if you were rich, you were considered to be against the revolution because you didn't give your wealth to the poor.
As an example, the greatest scientist of the time was Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier. Robespierre had him shortened by a head. Lavoisier was a partner in the Ferme Generale, which was the organization that was responsible for collecting taxes. And, they were known to be heavy handed.
But, Lavoisier only bought into the company so he could marry the daughter of one of the directors. He never took part in any of the day to day business. He instead worked for the government and was an integral part in standardizing the metric system. In fact, he tried to institute reforms to the tax system that would benefit the poor.
His mistake was a simple one, however. A few years before the revolution, Robespierre had submitted a scientific paper for review to a panel Lavoisier sat on. It was a bad paper, full of inaccuracies. mistakes and bad science. Lavoisier and the panel rejected the paper.
When the partners of the Ferme Generale came to trial, only the directors were slated for execution. Except Lavoisier. Robespierre included him in the group to die, even though he had done nothing against the revolution. He had him killed out of revenge.
That's the kind of asshole Max was.
And Max and Tom did not get along. Not at all. Even though he had support from a few of the council, Paine was such an ass that Robespierre had him thrown in jail in 1793, where he was threatened with execution.
He was held until 1794 when karma came knocking on Maxes door. It seemed his reign of terror pushed the rest of the council to the limit, and they had him arrested and executed by the same guillotine that took the head of the king, the queen, Lavoisier and thousands of others.
Paine was released, and he immediately published his final book, 'The Age of Reason'.
Paine stayed in France to keep an eye on the revolution, and to offer suggestions where he could. However, by 1802 he had become sick and tired of all the bickering amongst the leaders. Also, Napoleon had set himself up as dictator. So Paine decided to go check out his farm in New York.
When he arrived back in America, he received a shock. He knew he wasn't all that popular in the first place, but he found that, upon his arrival, he wasn't wanted. He was a rabble-rousing revolutionary who had spent the past 30 years doing nothing but fomenting revolt. Not what the American government wanted.
It didn't help that the president at that time was John Adams. Remember, Adams really didn't like Paine. In fact, he called Paine, "That insolent blasphemer of things sacred and transcendent, libeler of all that is good.". And he described him as "a mongrel between pig and puppy, begotten by a wild boar on a bitch wolf.". (for 1802, those were very harsh insults)
Rejected by his adopted country, Paine sold his farm and moved to New York City where he took up the hobby of heavily drinking. He died in 1809 a poor, penniless drunk. His obituary said, "He had lived long, did some good and much harm."
Remember, this is the man who was responsible for America declaring her independence.
It wasn't until the 1950's that he was redeemed. His writings were being studied again, and the power of his words were again, being appreciated. We can read his words today, and they still hold true:
When it shall be said in any country in the world, my poor are happy; neither ignorance nor distress is to be found among them; my jails are empty of prisoners; my streets of beggars; the aged are not in want; the taxes are not oppressive. When these things can be said, then may that country boast it's constitution and it's government.
And with that, we leave Mr. Thomas Paine. He was a jerk, but he had a great deal to do with the formation of modern America and France. Not too many men can put that on their resume.
In case you're wondering, the oddity today is the fact that, not enough people know about things like this. But that is why I am here. To inform you of the things you don't know, didn't know you wanted to know, and would probably be happy if you never knew it.