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The Paine Anti-Defamation League (PADL)


Mission Statement



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.


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 2004).


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 of Paine.

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 2003).

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 Government.

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 2001).

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' dogma.

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 (1989).

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 spiegelman22@yahoo.com or 413-253-7934, or write to, Thomas Paine Friends, Inc., 185 Middle Street, Amherst MA 01002-3011





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