Thomas Paine Friends, Inc. is a membership
organization. Directors and Officers serve one-year terms, and
elections are held annually each Fall.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
- Maurice Bisheff, President
...Santa Barbara, CA
- Victor Madeson, Vice President
- Algernon D'Ammassa, Secretary
- Irwin Spiegelman, Treasurer
- Frances Chiu
...West Hartford, CT
- Edward J. Dodson
...Cherry Hill, NJ
- Christiane Munkholm
- Timothy Nelms
- John F. Skibiski, Jr.
- Martha Spiegelman
- Molly Turner
About Thomas Paine Friends, Inc.
statement of purpose is found in the Articles of Incorporation of
Thomas Paine Friends, Inc., approved April 2, 2002:
... "Thomas Paine
Friends, Inc. ('the organization') shall be an educational,
historical, monumental and civic non-profit organization which shall
encourage people to learn about and from the author-patriot, Thomas
Paine, his times and his philosophy, so that they may be inspired to
participate in public affairs in ways reflective of the spirit of
Paine's life, thought and ideals; and which shall strive to increase
public awareness of Paine's contributions to our representative
democracy, to equality, to justice, to human rights, to free thought
and free expression; and which shall endeavor to strengthen a sense of
world citizenship; and which shall propose and support fitting
memorials to Thomas Paine.
... Activities of the organization fall
into two principal spheres: 1. To raise public consciousness of
Paine's notable contributions to the political foundations of our
representative democracy, and to numerous social and economic reforms;
and, 2. To advocate the role that Paine in his writings and by his
life's example set out for citizens in a free representative democracy
-- education and discourse in the public interest so that citizens
will participate in an informed way in the civic and public life of
the large and small community."
A Short History of Thomas Paine Friends, Inc.
...For more than two centuries, many
thoughtful persons around the world have found strength in the
writings of Thomas Paine and in the story of his life. In the
United States during the 1990s, an effort was begun by several
dedicated Paineites to convince individual state
legislatures to celebrate the anniversary of Paine's birth by
observing every January 29th as a Thomas Paine Day.
... In 1998, the Commonwealth of
Virginia became the first state to enact, as law, Thomas Paine Day
to be observed every January 29th. In 1999, Florida followed with
the same legislation.
... The passage of this legislation
occurred because of the efforts of Sherwood V. Smith in Virginia
and Robert N. Walsh in Florida. Their success stimulated
volunteers in other states to press their own state legislatures
to join with Virginia and Florida by declaring January 29th to be
Thomas Paine Day.
... By the 29th of January, 2002, a
total of 30 states had joined in the celebration of Thomas Paine
Day. Most the the declarations had been made in the form of
governors' Proclamations. However, the campaign for legislation
continued, and by December, 2005, nine states had done so. The
list of states included Delaware, Florida, Massachusetts,
Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and
... Out of this state-by-state
Thomas Paine Day effort developed the nucleus of a small but very
committed band of activists. We dubbed ourselves, Thomas Paine
In May of 2000, the group produced the first issue of a
newsletter, BULLETIN of Thomas Paine Friends.
Paine Friends is an association of activists committed to several
specific projects designed to bring the great political philosopher
and humanitarian into permanent prominence, as is his due. We invite
anyone who wants to be active in one or more of these projects to
One goal is to obtain
recognition of Thomas Paine's life, achievements and legacy. We see
various routes to reach the goal.
- State-wide, annual THOMAS PAINE DAY
- Informational programs for schools,
libraries, civic and community groups
- Encouragement to youth to learn about Thomas
Paine, and the foundations of our country, for example by
essays, special teaching units, performances, etc.
- Proposals to schools to teach about the
civic and political life and self-government
- Exhibits in libraries, town halls, community
centers, and similar locations
- Letters and short articles sent to
professional journals...to newspapers
- Production and distribution of a newsletter,
the BULLETIN of Thomas Paine Friends, to exchange
information and views related to Thomas Paine and to provide a
The January, 2001 issue of the BULLETIN
provided a belated acknowledgement of the important contributions of
several other individuals responsible for the formation of Thomas
Paine Friends, Inc. In the late 1980s, the Thomas Paine Readers
Club, formed by Florence Stapleton and Nat Mills brought new
people into the group.
...Florence periodically sent her
personal Thomas Paine Readers Club letter, one to two pages in
length. When informed of her death in 1999, Paine Readers from all
over the world sent messages of remembrance and condolence to
...After the Thomas Paine National
Historical Association (TPNHA) decided in Fall 1999 to discontinue a
newsletter, a number of recipients of the expired TPNHA newsletter
said that we ought to maintain a news exchange. Those of us involved
at the time decided to call our network Thomas Paine Friends.
...Ever faithful, Florence Stapleton
and Nat Mills cannot be forgotten as guides and examples to any of
us working to restore Thomas Paine to his rightful place in history
and in the civic life.
Thanks to the dedication of our members, Thomas Paine
Friends has been able to undertake and continue a number of major
activities. One is the effort to have every state of the United States
declare the 29th of January, Thomas Paine Day. Members have also been
instrumental in creating the Paine Anti-Defamation League (PADL). And,
of course, is our organization newsletter, the BULLETIN of Thomas
Other projects and activities include:
Letter-writing to Media
A coordinated effort is underway to have residents in each state
write a letter or opinion piece to a major newspaper in the capital
city, for publication just before January 29th, Thomas Paine Day. Each
state resident / volunteer is encouraged to write an article, however,
Thomas Paine Friends can assist by providing model letters and
background material such as a selection of quotations from Paine's
writings and testimonials to him. TPF will supply the entire letter to
the editor if the resident / volunteer prefers, to be signed and sent
by the resident /volunteer. (Contact
Robert N. Walsh, firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact State Offices
In conjunction with the Letter-Writing Campaign, state residents /
volunteers can also contact state offices in their State Houses, such
as the governor's office and legislators' offices. The object is for
the volunteers to thank the officials for previous support of Thomas
Paine Day Resolutions and to remind them of the approaching Thomas
Paine Day, by enclosing a small poster and requesting that it be
displayed prominently in the State House to usher in the upcoming
Thomas Paine Day on January 29th. Again, sample letters and other
supporting materials, plus the poster, are available from TPF.
Robert N. Walsh, email@example.com
Annual Dinners and Receptions
Each locality has a golden opportunity to hold a festive event for
Thomas Paine Day, January 29th, every year, or possibly at another
suitable time of the year, for instance, Independence Day. These
affairs might be small initially, but would be enjoyable gatherings as
well as opportunities to get out press releases and inform local
officials, schools, libraries, etc., about Thomas Paine. For
information & suggestions on planning events, contact Martha
firstname.lastname@example.org, or any board member; and to list an
event in the newsletter, BULLETIN of Thomas Paine Friends, contact
Exhibits for Libraries, Schools, Town Halls, etc.
Several communities have arranged exhibits ranging from a single
Thomas Paine poster to collections of memorabilia to video showings.
Those who have already produced these exhibits are ready to assist
others to assemble an exhibit or plan another kind of public event.
email@example.com, or Robert N. Walsh,
Thomas Paine Friends President, Edward J. Dodson, has developed a
presentation titled "Thomas Paine: Architect of Cooperative
Individualism" in PowerPoint format. This presentation is
available to teachers and anyone who is interesting in giving talks on
Paine to groups. The PowerPoint slides include lecture notes that can
be revised as desired. This presentation is available free of charge
as a public service. Contact
Ed Dodson, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Outreach, Publicity/ Public Relations
TPF needs to contact numerous groups that would have an interest in
Thomas Paine, and might lend support in some projects. Some groups to
be contacted are historical societies, humanist societies, libraries,
cultural and civic associations. So far, only limited attempts have
been made in a few localities. Letters to introduce Thomas Paine
Friends to such groups are needed. Contact
any officer or board member.
Membership and Fundraising
Proposals and volunteers are needed for two drives: to gain and keep
members and to solicit funds. Seeking out appropriate funding agencies
and making applications for grants is an important immediate task.
Martha Spiegelman, email@example.com
National Monument Initiative
Fifteen years ago Congress approved and the President signed into Law
a Thomas Paine National Memorial which would be constructed on the
Mall in Washington DC. Unfortunately, the time ran out on the project
-- funds were insufficient and the Commissions that would have had to
accept the design and plan did not make an acceptance in view of the
insufficient funding. A new beginning can be made, and Thomas Paine
Friends is conferring with other Paine groups to see whether to start
Sherwood V. Smith, firstname.lastname@example.org,
or any board member).