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Paine, Thomas (1737-1809) to Nathanael Greene

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC04454 Author/Creator: Paine, Thomas (1737-1809) Place Written: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 17 October 1780 Pagination: 3 p. : address : docket ; 37.8 x 23.6 cm.

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC04454 Author/Creator: Paine, Thomas (1737-1809) Place Written: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 17 October 1780 Pagination: 3 p. : address : docket ; 37.8 x 23.6 cm.

Summary of Content: Begins by stating that he is thankful no one can publish his letters after his death since he does not write any. Discusses the treason of Benedict Arnold and the British spy John Andre. Comments on the capture of Andre and wonders why Andre was not able to escape as he was on horseback and the three Americans on foot. Remarks on Arnold's escape, "But why, if Providence had the management of the whole, did she let Arnold escape. Perhaps to be hung afterwards by the Enemy for some act of traitorship against them. In this case he will have no apology left and all Parties will call him what they now think him, a Villain." Wishes Greene well in his Southern command. States he believes France should assist with 5000 or 6000 men and one million dollars. Notes that he is no longer under attack from enemies, "I once more live in peace and quietness, all my opposers become mute ... " Gives regards to George Washington and sends "the last Crisis." Postscript mentions his verses in answer to William Duer's "Plain Truth", an attack on Paine's "Common Sense." The year is partially obscured.

Background Information: Paine had served as a volunteer aide to Greene 1776-1777. Major John André was captured at Tarrytown, New York in civilian clothing and was hanged as spy on 2 October 1780, while ...Arnold escaped on the H.M.S. Vulture. Greene served as president of the military board that interrogated André. Three days before this letter, Washington appointed Greene commander of the Southern Department. The "last Crisis" most probably refers to an issue of Paine's Crisis Extraordinary on financing the Revolution.See More

Full Transcript: Philadelphia Octr. 17th. 178[0]
Dear Sir
Thank God nobody can publish my letters after I am dead for I write none and in the present uncertainty of conveyance I feel determined ...to write none. Thus much by way of apology for not writing sooner
Good God what an escape have you had! Were I inclined to be superstitious, I should attribute the whole of this discovery to Providence. I see so many [struck: ways] [inserted: chances] the Treason had of succeeding and every chance opposed by an uncontrived something, that I almost feel myself a Predestinarian.
But how is it that Andre who died like a Roman should suffer himself to be taken as a coward would have been taken. - A man on horseback against three on foot had a chance of escaping especially as the pursuit could not have been far or long. Do you think an American Officer would have been taken by three Tories within sight almost of his own lines without a struggle for it? - but there again comes in the answer. It was to be - [inserted: and so be it.]
But why, if Providence had the management of the whole, did she let Arnold escape: Perhaps to be hung afterwards by the Enemy for some act of traitorship against them. In this Case he will have no apology left and all Parties will call him what they now think him, [struck: a] Villain.
I suggest a hint - should Arnold send any more letters - return them unopened to General Clinton - [2] Pray tell Col Hamilton that he is all elegance and Sentiment. He has pited and written himself into love with Mrs. Arnold and tell him to, that the doctrine I have preached up is, that the best thing she can do [struck: is] [inserted: will be] to sue for a divorse which she is fairly entitled to as the man is dead in Law.
Though I do not write much I pray often. if fervency of hoping and wishing can be called prayer, and these will constantly attend you on your expedition to the southern of which I congratulate you.
How are we to make out for pay and supplies? I have drawn up a scheme for raising a loan in this state. to be paid in, in wheat rye and Indian corn - and on the filling up of this, to take off the Embargo.
This Morning I expect a Visit from Mr. Marbois, agreeable to his Card of yesterday - I [inserted: shall] make it an occasion of mentioning to him, what has long been my opinion, - That were France to give the money [as] a subsidy, she could not lay it out to better advantage than to assist us with 5 or 6000 men more. and a million of hard Money. It will save her many Millions And had we [struck: that] this sum in a Bank it would give [inserted: illegible] [inserted: a reality] to the currency, and command such a Value upon it as it ought to have. But now it is like a perishable annimal -- a Body without a soul.
I once more live in peace and quietness, all my opposers are become mute and [illegible letter] I suppose has recovered his senses. If I had been six foot high [3] I would have [illegible strikeout] licked some of them soundly, which is the utmost length that on such an occasion I would have gone to, or to tell you the truth I [illegible strikeout] set too much value upon my self to go out of the world for a trifle and should be ashamed to have it said that after living like a Philosopher I died like a fool. However, if I could not lick them one way I have another, and I believe they will not be very fond of tilting with me again, neither have I any resentment left against them.
As soon as you come to Town pray let me know it. I have something to mention to you in confidence.
Present my best wishes to Genl. Washington and his family, to your own, and to every friend to whom they may be welcome.
I send you the last Crisis - likewise this days paper in which there is not a syllable of mine - but in the paper of the 11th. Inst. you will see a little piece of light reading which in a leisure [illegible strikeout] hour I amused myself with [illegible strikeout] putting together.
I am Dear Sir
your Affectionate Friend
and hble Servant
Thomas Paine
P.S. I have not patience enough to write a letter [inserted: twice] over so except it as it is - I promised you when in Town the verses on a certain occasion which I now send now, - with this Anecdote that when they came out Govenier said, what a damned Slap Paine has given Duer, - and Duer said, -- By God how Paine has rattled Morris-- The Verses were in answer to a piece signed Plain Truth
[address leaf]
Thomas Paine
Octo 17, 1780
Honble. Major General Greene
[docket]
From Thos. Paine Octr. 17th. 1780.
--94--
strongly characteristic.
Hints to the French Minister
Arnold & André
See More

People: Paine, Thomas, 1737-1809
Greene, Nathanael, 1742-1786
Arnold, Benedict, 1741-1801
André, John, 1751-1780
Duer, William, 1747-1799

Historical Era: American Revolution, 1763-1783

Subjects: Revolutionary WarRevolutionary War GeneralTreasonSpyingMilitary HistoryPrisonerDeath PenaltyPrisoner of WarMilitary LawMorality and EthicsFranceGlobal History and CivicsForeign AffairsFinancePoliticsPresidentLiterature and Language ArtsPoetry

Sub Era: The War for Independence

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