Thomas Paine - American Patriot?

Tom Paine was a drunk. Born in England in 1737 and brought up in a poor Quaker home, he later became fascinated by Newton's mechanical universe and, in his worldview, God the Creator was little by little replaced by godless nature. As a discontented Norfolk farmer with a penchant for brandy, he discovered that he had a flair for writing. He wrote in popular terms what was being said more obscurely by such radical intellectuals of the day as Horne Tooke and William Godwin.

In 1774, at the age of 37, he emigrated to America and settled in Philadelphia. Armed with brandy snifter and inkpot, he immediately set to writing a small book titled 'Common Sense'. In this work he rejected the rule of God through King George III and argued for the rule by Man in a Republic. The book was published in January 1776, just thirteen months after his arrival in Philadelphia. The work greatly impressed Thomas Jefferson's Republican Committee, and only five months later, on July 4th, the Declaration of Independence was issued. The Declaration bears an uncanny likeness to Paine's 'Common Sense', and there would seem to be little argument that Paine's words formed its working basis. We might be reminded, however, that Paine's pen in his right hand had received its inspiration from the brandy snifter in his left.

Inspection of the fiftysix signatures on this famous document gives us a further insight into the life and lifestyle of Tom Paine. Eight of the signatories are known to have been Freemasons - John Hancock, Benjamin Franklin, Joseph Hewes, William Hooper, Robert Treat Payne, Richard Stockton, George Walton and William Whipple; twentyfour others are also claimed by the Masons to be of their own. Notable, however, is the fact that Paine was a Mason, while fellow-Mason Benjamin Franklin was Jefferson's righthand man in drawing up this document. It would thus seem more than likely that because of his talent for writing in a convincing and popular way, Paine was invited to Philadelphia by Franklin for the very purpose of helping to write the Declaration. This being so, there is the virtual certainty that Paine belonged to the Masonic brotherhood before he left England. In any event, he was deeply involved in their activities and in all probability belonged to that inner occult circle known in that day as the Illuminati.

Many extravagant and undocumented claims have been made for the role of Freemasonry, and the Illuminists in particular, for their part in shaping the present day World system. Nevertheless, good documentation is available to the diligent and certain facts become inescapable.

The Masonic organisation began obscurely in England in the early 1600's. It is generally acknowledged to have been the inspiration of Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626), whose dream it was to introduce a new worldorder based upon science. Though usually unspoken, it is selfevident that, in order to achieve this, the old worldorder based upon Judeo-Christian principles must first be destroyed. As a secret hierarchical organisation, individuals in the lower ranks are not made aware of the real purpose and are led to believe that the objectives are charitable works; the personal carrotstick is gain. As the individual's commitment deepens, promotion occurs from above, and the real objectives of the organisation gradually become known. Commitment is the major driving force in the Masonic organisation and becomes such that it entirely transcends the boundaries of national sovereignty. So it was, then, that by the late 1700's there were Masonic lodges dedicated to the one purpose throughout the British Empire from India to the Americas, as well as throughout Continental Europe. It was at this point that another facet of Masonic activity was covertly introduced into the organisation beginning in Bavaria.

The systematic destruction of the Judeo-Christian belief system and the subsequent undermining of Church authority was perceived to leave a vacuum. The Jesuit training of professor Adam Weishaupt recognised this, and in the late 1700's he introduced the practices of Pythagorean mysticism into the lodges by a process of infiltration. Very quickly the key lodges of every major country were taken over by this occult movement. It should perhaps be mentioned that the Roman Church and the Jesuit order in particular have, until recent years, always been outspokenly opposed to Freemasonry. In fact, Pope Pius IX, having excommunicated all Freemasons, had himself been expelled from the Masonic order during the 1840's under his real name of Mastai Ferretti. Certain key lodges then were deeply involved in the practice of occult mysticism among the members of the higher orders; Philadelphia had such a lodge and so did Paris.

In Paris, that lodge was known as the 'Nine Sisters', and shuttle-diplomat Benjamin Franklin had been elected its honorary grandmaster. Incidentally, it was Franklin who directed the initiation of his ageing friend Voltaire into this lodge in 1778. Franklin was an active correspondent among the British Masons, the most notable group of which was the Lunar Society of Birmingham. Among the members of this elite band of new worldorder advocates was Erasmus Darwin (Charles Darwin's grandfather) and the man who was to inspire Paine's religious writings, Unitarian Dr. Joseph Priestley.

Paine returned to England in 1787; the French Revolution was acted out two years later. Shortly after, Paine wrote 'The Rights of Man' in which he defended the French Revolution and urged that England rid itself of the monarch and, like France, aim at becoming a Republic. France was officially declared a Republic in 1792. It is clear that his motive in issuing 'The Rights of Man' was that it would have the same effect in England as did his 'Common Sense' in America five years earlier. Although the book caused much controversy, England was neither America nor France and a revolution did not take place. The more perceptive historians ascribe the absence of an English revolution to the great number of Christian people in England at the time brought about by the Wesley revivals. Nevertheless, certain leftwing factions liked what Paine had written and 'The Rights of Man' became a foundation document for the English working class movement until about 1880. The majority of the English people were rightwing, conservative, and Royalist, and Paine was charged with sedition for what he had written. Narrowly missing being stoned to death by the English blue bloods, he escaped to Paris in 1792.

Receiving a hero's welcome, the French National Assembly elected him as one of their own. Little did Paine realise when he wrote 'The Rights of Man' in 1791, defending the French Revolution, that he would be caught up in its bloody aftermath three years later. The new Constitution for the French Republic was written by Paine and fellow Mason, the ex-Marquis of Condorcet, in 1793, but it was not well received by the National Assembly. A division arose and in the Reign of Terror the following year, both Paine and Condorcet were imprisoned by the Jacobins. Paine narrowly escaped an inevitable end by claiming to be an American citizen and appealing to the American ambassador. Condorcet chose a more certain route of escape - he poisoned himself in the prison cell.

It was about this period of his life that Paine produced one of the most virulent deistical attacks on revealed religion ever written. His drinking had by now gotten to the point where he was permanently inebriated, and his contemporary, Madame Roland, described his face as "a blackberry powdered with flour." 'The Age of Reason' appeared in 1794-5, and in this he gave a book-by-book exposé of what he saw as inconsistencies in both the Old Testament and the New. However, his perception of the Bible was through the bottom of a brandy glass and, as might be expected, the infamous work was itself shot through with illogicalities and inconsistencies. Nevertheless, the book found willing readers and is today still venerated as classic literature by the "enlightened".

The glittering exterior that has always been Paris hides a sinkhole for the revolutionary-minded of all nations. Paine's friends were the leading lights - Illuminists is indeed an appropriate word. In this revolutionary thieves den, names such as Count Mirabeau and Sylvain Marecha were the journalist intellectuals who formed the nucleus of an elite group who had successfully begun to destroy the old worldorder in order to prepare the way for the new. Social mores in Paris had, in a few short years, radically departed from the Christian ethic as the citizens of that brave new society exercised their newfound freedom. Prostitution of both sexes was now quite open and pornography was rampant. Paine's closest American friend in Paris was Joel Barlow, one of the city's fashionable pornographers. From 1797 to 1802 Paine lived in "menage a trois" with Illuminist Benjamin Bonneville and his wife Margaret; this sort of arrangement was not unusual in the newworld society.

Thomas Paine's only real success in his role as one of the architects of the New World Order had been as shadow writer for the American Declaration of Independence. He had failed to influence the English or even the French, and it was perhaps with the thought of returning to the green pastures of his early success that he returned to America in 1802. Paine, with an English background, and Bonneville with German parents, were both aliens in Paris, and perhaps this is what drew them so closely together: Bonneville had named his second son after Paine and permitted his wife to move back to America permanently as Paine's companion.

Upon his return, Paine wrote 'An Essay on the Origin of Free Masonry', which gives the reader a valuable insight into the writer's Illuminist background. The work was immediately translated into French by Bonneville. Paine believed that the Druids and Pythagoreans had combined to provide an occult ideological alternative to Christianity and insisted that the natural sun worship of the Druids had been diverted into Masonry. This was to be the last of Thomas Paine's literary works; he died six years later in 1809. He had spent a lifetime rebelling against the God he once knew as a Quaker youth, and on his death bed saw the folly of it all in his dying words:

"I would give worlds, if I had them, if 'The Age of Reason' had never been published. O Lord, help me! Christ, help me! Stay with me! It is hell to be left alone. "

by Ian Taylor

Portrait of Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine's Dying Words

"I would give worlds, if I had them, if 'The Age of Reason' had never been published. O Lord, help me! Christ, help me! Stay with me! It is hell to be left alone."

Tom Paine

Ian Taylor graduated from university in London, England, and worked as a research metallurgist in North America for more than twenty years. He holds a number of patents for his work in this area. He has also spent five years in television production and is the author of 'In the Minds of Men: Darwin and the New World Order' which may be ordered through Bible-Science.

Source: 'Bible-Science Newsletter', June 1987