Common Sense and the Rights of Man in America
On June 10, 1809, when Thomas Paine was buried on his own farm in New Rochelle, in Westchester County, New York, there were less than a dozen people at his funeral: Willett Hicks, a Quaker who had been unsuccessful in getting the Society of Friends to accept Paine’s request that he be laid to rest in their burial grounds in New York City; Thomas Addis Emmett, a Paineite political emigré who had been imprisoned in Ireland, now a rising lawyer in the city; Walter Morton, a friend; two African American men, one perhaps the grave-digger; Margaret de Bonneville and her two young sons, Benjamin and Thomas, Paine’s godson, all refugees from Napoleonic France who Paine had sustained in the United States in gratitude for the support she and her husband, Nicholas, had given Paine in France before and after his imprisonment. All these had made the 25-mile journey from Greenwich Village, then on the outskirts of New York City, where Paine had died. They may have been joined by a few neighbors from New Rochelle where he had lived intermittently since his return from France in 1802. No political leaders attended; no one, it seems, gave a eulogy.
KeywordsCommon Sense British Isle Common People French Revolution American Revolution
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- 1.Cited in Alfred Owen Aldridge, Man of Reason: The Life of Thomas Paine (Philadelphia, 1959), 316.Google Scholar
- 2a.For the funeral and response to Paine’ death, Moncure Daniel Conway, The Life of Thomas Paine, 2 vols. (New York, 1892; 1 vol. ed, New York, 1969), 322–324;Google Scholar
- 2b.David Freeman Hawke, Paine (New York, 1974), 399–401Google Scholar
- 3.‘Will of Thomas Paine’ in Philip S. Foner (ed.). The Complete Writings of Thomas Paine, 2 vols. (New York, 1945), 1498, paged continuously.Google Scholar
- 4a.For Paine’ account of his services, ‘tion To a Committee of the Continental Congress [October, 1983]’Google Scholar
- 4b.in Foner (ed.), Complete Writings, 1226-1242 and Paine to Robert Morris, May 19, 1783,Google Scholar
- 4c.in E. James Ferguson et al. (eds.), The Papers of Robert Morris, 9 vols. (Pittsburgh, 1973-) VIII (forthcoming), which I read in typescript, a valuable unpublished letter.Google Scholar
- 5a.For summaries: John Bach MaMaster, A History of the People of the United States (New York, 1896), I, 75, 153–154;Google Scholar
- 5b.Hawke, Paine, 138–140, 142-148; Conway, Life of Paine, 80-86;Google Scholar
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- 5d.Eric Foner, ‘Preeminent Historical and Lasting Significance of Thomas Paine to the Nation’(Washington, D. C, April 11, 1994, ms.Google Scholar