“Blogs are the greatest breakthrough in popular journalism since Tom Paine broke onto the scene”. So wrote Arianna Huffington, who knows a thing or two about blogging.
Tom Paine was an Englishman born in 1737 and raised in Thetford, a small town in Norfolk in the East of England.
Tom later moved to Lewes on the south coast. It appears that Tom’s time in Lewes shaped his political views – he left England head stuffed full with radical ideas.
There is now a statue of Tom in Thetford, at the top of King Street, on the old coach hire Norwich and and coach hire Norfolk road. His bronze effigy clutches a pen like a weapon - an evident reminder that the pen is mightier than the sword.
Tom Paine arrived in America in November 1774 at the age of 37.
By then there had already been several years of unrest in the North American Colonies. The source of discontent was unpopular taxation imposed by a British Parliament in which the colonies had no representation.
In January 1776 Paine published a pamphlet which
attacked the British monarchy and advocated independence of the Colonies. It swayed public opinion at a time when many Americans retained personal loyalty to the British Crown.
During the War of Independence Paine wrote a further series of pamphlets designed to sustain support for the revolution through a prolonged and difficult war.
At a low ebb in the American Revolution George Washington instructed that words from Paine's pamphlets be read to his soldiers: “Let it be told to the future world that in the depth of winter when nothing but hope and virtue could survive, that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet it”.
In February 1943, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, Franklin Roosevelt gave a rallying speech to the nation. He closed his address with quotations from Paine: “These are the times that try men’s souls” … “Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered, yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the sacrifice, the more glorious the triumph.” In his inaugural speech Barack Obama said: “I stand before you as hopeful as ever that the United States of America will endure, that it will prevail, that the dream of our founders is alive in our time”. It was Paine and his forthright rejection of discrimination to whom he referred..
Tom Paine once wrote: “Let us reason the matter together”. As a champion of clean and open government this man would have made a mighty blogger.