The Political Philosophy of Thomas Paine

Overview

This concise, insightful study explores the sources and impact of one of the early republic's most influential minds.

An Englishman by birth, an American by choice and necessity, Thomas Paine advocated ideas about rights, equality, democracy, and liberty that were far advanced beyond those of his American compatriots. His seminal works, Common Sense and the Rights of Man, were rallying cries for the American and French Revolutions. More than any other eighteenth-century ...

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The Political Philosophy of Thomas Paine

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Overview

This concise, insightful study explores the sources and impact of one of the early republic's most influential minds.

An Englishman by birth, an American by choice and necessity, Thomas Paine advocated ideas about rights, equality, democracy, and liberty that were far advanced beyond those of his American compatriots. His seminal works, Common Sense and the Rights of Man, were rallying cries for the American and French Revolutions. More than any other eighteenth-century political writer and activist, Paine defies easy categorization. A man of contrasts and contradictions, Paine was as much a believer in the power of reason as he was in a benevolent deity. He was at once liberal and conservative, a Quaker who was not a pacifist, and an inherently gifted writer who was convinced he was always right.

Jack Fruchtman Jr. analyzes Paine's radical thought both in the context of his time and as a blueprint for the future development of republican government. His systematic approach identifies the themes of signal importance to Paine's political thought, demonstrating especially how crucial religion and God were to the development and expression of his political ideals.

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Editorial Reviews

Choice

A compelling portrait of Thomas Paine as a serious, complex, and often surprising writer... This is a very useful volume for new students of US political thought, as well as for scholars seeking a quick but illuminating overview of Paine's writings and philosophy.

Times Literary Supplement

Fruchtman's concise analysis is tightly focused... A coherent vision of Paine's work, encompassing his many contradictions.

New Political Science
An insightful addition to a literature on an under-appreciated democratic theorist.

— Mario Feit

Political Studies Review
After reading The Political Philosophy of Thomas Paine readers will recognise consistencies in Paine's work that reveal, if not a systematic ‘political philosophy’, certainly a marvellous political thinker.

— Jeffrey D. Hilmer

Eighteenth-Century Intelligencer

Jack Fruchtman’s compact study of the political philosophy of Thomas Paine constitutes the fifth volume in the series, The Political Philosophy of the American Founders, edited by Garrett Ward Sheldon. Fruchtman’s study adds more luster to the fine reputation already enjoyed by this series in progress... [T]he reader desirous of perusing a cogent and thought-provoking exposition and analysis of Paine’s writings should consider reading, first, this monograph, multum in parvo, by Jack Fruchtman.

Claremont Review of Books

Fruchtman is a Paine enthusiast, and if this succinct account does not provide the same biographical stir one gets from other works (his earlier book included), it is nonetheless a great way for the newcomer to appreciate the range, diversity, and raw power and brilliance of Paine's ideas.

New Political Science - Mario Feit

An insightful addition to a literature on an under-appreciated democratic theorist.

Political Studies Review - Jeffrey D. Hilmer

After reading The Political Philosophy of Thomas Paine readers will recognise consistencies in Paine's work that reveal, if not a systematic ‘political philosophy’, certainly a marvellous political thinker.

Choice

A compelling portrait of Thomas Paine as a serious, complex, and often surprising writer... This is a very useful volume for new students of US political thought, as well as for scholars seeking a quick but illuminating overview of Paine's writings and philosophy.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

Meet the Author

Jack Fruchtman Jr. is a professor of political science at Towson University and author of Atlantic Cousins: Benjamin Franklin and His Visionary Friends, The Supreme Court: Rulings on American Government and Society, and Thomas Paine and the Religion of Nature, also published by Johns Hopkins.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

1 Paine's Political Thought in Historical Context 15

2 Faith and Reason, Human Nature and Sociability 28

3 Common Sense, Authority, and Autonomy 56

4 Permanent Revolution and Constitution Making 77

5 From a "Hamiltonian" Spirit to Public Welfare 103

6 Public Spirit, Civic Engagement, and Evolutionary Change 134

Conclusion 151

Appendix: A Note on Paine's American National Consciousness 157

Notes 167

Recommended Reading 205

Index 207

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