The Paine Anti-Defamation League (PADL)
PADL has two overlapping aims.
The first is to collect and
evaluate all references to Thomas Paine, whether from scholarly or
popular sources. Our task is to locate instances where factual errors
are made and to correct them. In cases where, in PADL's judgment,
Paine is treated unfairly and even defamed, as he has been too
frequently, an attempt will be made to set the record straight.
The second part of the PADL
mission is to gather evidence to show that Thomas Paine is, indeed, a
great, original political thinker, whose legacy contributes mightily
to furthering liberty, democracy, human rights, justice and peace for
ALL PADL STUDIES THROUGH DECEMBER 2006 *
No. 10. Paine, the Neocon? (BULLETIN
of Thomas Paine Friends, vol. 7, no. 4, December 2006).
This article takes issue with a
review of two recent books about Paine by conservative historian,
Arthur Herman, that appeared in the September 22, 2006 Wall Street
Journal. He incredibly uses the title, The First
Neoconservative, applied to Paine, as Herman deals harsh reviews
to Craig Nelson's Thomas Paine and Harvey J. Kaye's Thomas
Paine and the Promise of America. PADL convincingly rebuts
Herman's misreading of Paine and the attempt to force Paine into a
conservative mold rather than understanding Paine's paramount
objectives of a democratic society, a proto-welfare state, and
adherence to full human rights for all members of society.
No. 9. Paine: A Leading American
Freethinker, According To Susan Jacoby
(BULLETIN of Thomas Paine Friends, vol. 5, no. 3, October
Jacoby's book, Freethinkers, A
History of American Secularism (Metropolitan Books, Henry Holt,
NY: 2004), is a valuable compendium of significant freethought
movements in America. She places Paine and Robert Greene Ingersoll ("the
great agnostic") at the top of a long list of freethinkers. In
the 19th century, Ingersoll, an important orator, played a major role
in keeping Paine in the public mind. This PADL article suggests a few
ways in which Jacoby went astray in an otherwise exemplary treatment
No. 8. Understanding Paine's Concept of
Natural Rights (BULLETIN of Thomas Paine Friends, vol. 4,
no. 2, April 2003).
Margaret MacDonald's essay, NATURAL
RIGHTS (1947-48), forms the basis for this PADL article. The
lineage is drawn from Natural Rights through Paine's Rights of Man
to our current values of Human Rights found in such documents as the
United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
No. 7. Ford Admires Paine's Economics
(BULLETIN of Thomas Paine Friends, vol. 4, no. 1, January
In PROPERTY, WELFARE, AND
FREEDOM IN THE WRITINGS OF THOMAS PAINE (2001), Karen Ford brings
together Paine's major economic writings, and organizes her exposition
into five chapters with substantial introductions to the entire volume
and to each of the chapters. Ford shows how Paine's ideas were
original with him and have led to our Modern Social Democratic Form of
No. 6. Ayer Errs on Paine (BULLETIN
of Thomas Paine Friends, vol. 3, no. 3, September 2002).
In THOMAS PAINE (1988),
prominent philosopher A. J. Ayer's unduly pessimistic outlook
contributes to his startling undervaluation of Paine's works.
No. 5. Thomas Paine by Kingsley
Martin (BULLETIN, vol. 3, no. 1, January 2002).
Martin's Fabian Society pamphlet
(Fabian Tract No. 217 and Biographical Series No. 10, July1925) is a
fair and favorable treatment of Paine's ideas.
No. 4. Two 'Left' Scholars Look at
Paine's RIGHTS OF MAN (BULLETIN, vol. 2, no. 3, Fall
This review includes E. P.
Thompson's seminal work, THE MAKING OF THE ENGLISH WORKING CLASS
(1963), and Henry Collins' introduction to the Penguin Classics
Edition of RIGHTS OF MAN (1969). Both don't give Paine his
full measure of praise.
No. 3. Tom Paine: Bourgeois Radical?
(BULLETIN, vol. 2, no. 2, April 2001).
Professor Isaac Kramnick's
introduction to the Penguin Books edition of COMMON SENSE
(1976) and Kramnick's and Michael Foot's introduction to the Penguin
Books THE THOMAS PAINE READER (1987) are examined. Paine
becomes wrongly an Adam Smith-John Locke 'liberal' with no recognition
of his human rights and welfarist proposals which are the heart and
soul of his doctrine and carry him far beyond the 'laissez-faire'
No. 2. Thomas Paine: Political
Philosopher (BULLETIN, vol. 2, no. 1, January 2001).
This article is a brief summary
of two favorable, sympathetic and balanced presentations of Paine's
thought. The first is Professor Francis Coker's READINGS IN
POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY (1962), with 15 pages of excerpts from Paine,
and Gregory Claeys' THOMAS PAINE: SOCIAL AND POLITICAL THOUGHT
No. 1. Thomas Paine Unfairly Attacked:
The Defamation of Paine and What We Can Do About It (BULLETIN,
vol. 1, no. 2, November 2000).
This piece is a short summary of
a detailed rebuttal to an article by James V. Lynch entitled, "The
Limits of Revolutionary Radicalism: Tom Paine and Slavery," in
the Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 123: 177
(July 1999). Lynch uses unscholarly methods to back his claim that
Paine lacked a public commitment to the abolition of slavery.
PADL Studies 1 - 10 are written by Irwin Spiegelman
Any of these articles can be obtained
by contacting Irwin Spiegelman or the BULLETIN at
firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-253-7934, or write to, Thomas Paine
Friends, Inc., 185 Middle Street, Amherst MA 01002-3011