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30th.--_Editor._,

After an absence of almost fifteen years, I am again returned to the
country in whose dangers I bore my share, and to whose greatness I
contributed my part.

When I sailed for Europe, in the spring of 1787, it was my intention to
return to America the next year, and enjoy in retirement the esteem of
my friends, and the repose I was entitled to. I had stood out the storm
of one revolution, and had no wish to embark in another. But other
scenes and other circumstances than those of contemplated ease were
allotted to me. The French revolution was beginning to germinate when I
arrived in France. The principles of it were good, they were copied
from America, and the men who conducted it were honest. But the fury of
faction soon extinguished the one, and sent the other to the scaffold.
Of those who began that revolution, I am almost the only survivor,
and that through a thousand dangers. I owe this not to the prayers of
priests, nor to the piety of hypocrites, but to the continued protection
of Providence.

But while I beheld with pleasure the dawn of liberty rising in Europe,
I saw with regret the lustre of it fading in America. In less than two
years from the time of my departure some distant symptoms painfully
suggested the idea that the principles of the revolution were expiring
on the soil that produced them. I received at that time a letter from a
female literary correspondent, and in my answer to her, I expressed my
fears on that head.(1)

I now know from the information I obtain upon the spot, that the
impressions that then distressed me, for I was proud of America, were
but too well founded. She was turning her back on her own glory, and
making hasty strides in the retrograde path of oblivion. But a spark
from the altar of _Seventy-six_, unextinguished and unextinguishable
through the long night of error, is again lighting up, in every part of
the Union, the genuine name of rational liberty.

As the French revolution advanced, it fixed the attention of the world,
and drew from the pensioned pen (2) of Edmund Burke a furious attack.
This brought me once more on the public theatre of politics, and
occasioned the pamphlet _Rights of Man_. It had the greatest run of
any work ever published in the English language. The number of copies
circulated in England, Scotland, and Ireland, besides translations
into foreign languages, was between four and five hundred thousand. The
principles of that work were the same as those in _Common Sense_, and
the effects would have been the same in England as that had produced in
America, could the vote of the nation been quietly taken, or had equal
opportunities of consulting or acting existed. The only difference
between the two works was, that the one was adapted to the local
circumstances of England, and the other to those of America. As to
myself, I acted in both cases alike; I relinquished to the people of
England, as I had done to those of America, all profits from the work.
My reward existed in the ambition to do good, and the independent
happiness of my own mind.

1 Paine here quotes a passage from his letter to Mrs. Few,
already given in the Memorial to Monroe (XXI.). The entire
letter to Mrs. Few will be printed in the Appendix to Vol.
IV. of this work.--_Editor._

2 See editorial note p. 95 in this volume.--_Editor._

But a faction, acting in disguise, was rising in America; they had lost
sight of first principles. They were beginning to contemplate government
as a profitable monopoly, and the people as hereditary property. It
is, therefore, no wonder that the _Rights of Man_ was attacked by that
faction, and its author continually abused. But let them go on; give
them rope enough and they will put an end to their own insignificance.
There is too much common sense and independence in America to be long
the dupe of any faction, foreign or domestic.

But, in the midst of the freedom we enjoy, the licentiousness of the
papers called Federal, (and I know not why they are called so, for they
are in their principles anti-federal and despotic,) is a dishonour
to the character of the country, and an injury to its reputation
and importance abroad. They represent the whole people of America as
destitute of public principle and private manners. As to any injury they
can do at home to those whom they abuse, or service they can render
to those who employ them, it is to be set down to the account of
noisy nothingness. It is on themselves the disgrace recoils, for the
reflection easily presents itself to every thinking mind, that _those
who abuse liberty when they possess it would abuse power could they
obtain it_; and, therefore, they may as well take as a general motto,
for all such papers, _We and our patrons are not fit to be trusted with
power_.

There is in America, more than in any other country, a large body
of people who attend quietly to their farms, or follow their several
occupations; who pay no regard to the clamours of anonymous scribblers,
who think for themselves, and judge of government, not by the fury of
newspaper writers, but by the prudent frugality of its measures, and the
encouragement it gives to the improvement and prosperity of the country;
and who, acting on their own judgment, never come forward in an election
but on some important occasion. When this body moves, all the little
barkings of scribbling and witless curs pass for nothing. To say to this
independent description of men, "You must turn out such and such persons
at the next election, for they have taken off a great many taxes, and
lessened the expenses of government, they have dismissed my son, or my
brother, or myself, from a lucrative office, in which there was nothing
to do"--is to show the cloven foot of faction, and preach the language
of ill-disguised mortification. In every part of the Union, this faction
is in the agonies of death, and in proportion as its fate approaches,
gnashes its teeth and struggles. My arrival has struck it as with an
hydrophobia, it is like the sight of water to canine madness.

As this letter is intended to announce my arrival to my friends, and to
my enemies if I have any, for I ought to have none in America, and as
introductory to others that will occasionally follow, I shall close it
by detailing the line of conduct I shall pursue.

I have no occasion to ask, and do not intend to accept, any place or
office in the government.(1) There is none it could give me that would
be any ways equal to the profits I could make as an author, for I have
an established fame in the literary world, could I reconcile it to my
principles to make money by my politics or religion. I must be in every
thing what I have ever been, a disinterested volunteer; my proper sphere
of action is on the common floor of citizenship, and to honest men I
give my hand and my heart freely.

1 The President (Jefferson) being an intimate friend of
Paine, and suspected, despite his reticence, of sympathizing
with Paine's religions views, was included in the
denunciations of Paine ("The Two Toms" they were called),
and Paine here goes out of his way to soften matters for
Jefferson.--_Editor._.

I have some manuscript works to publish, of which I shall give proper
notice, and some mechanical affairs to bring forward, that will employ
all my leisure time. I shall continue these letters as I see occasion,
and as to the low party prints that choose to abuse me, they are
welcome; I shall not descend to answer them. I have been too much used
to such common stuff to take any notice of it. The government of England
honoured me with a thousand martyrdoms, by burning me in effigy in every
town in that country, and their hirelings in America may do the same.

City of Washington.

THOMAS PAINE.



LETTER II(1)

As the affairs of the country to which I am returned are of more
importance to the world, and to me, than of that I have lately left,
(for it is through the new world the old must be regenerated, if
regenerated at all,) I shall not take up the time of the reader with an
account of scenes that have passed in France, many of which are painful
to remember and horrid to relate, but come at once to the circumstances
in which I find America on my arrival.

Fourteen years, and something more, have produced a change, at least
among a part of the people, and I ask my-self what it is? I meet or hear
of thousands of my former connexions, who are men of the same principles
and friendships as when I left them. But a non-descript race, and of
equivocal generation, assuming the name of _Federalist_,--a name that
describes no character of principle good or bad, and may equally
be applied to either,--has since started up with the rapidity of a
mushroom, and like a mushroom is withering on its rootless stalk. Are
those men _federalized_ to support the liberties of their country or to
overturn them? To add to its fair fame or riot on its spoils? The
name contains no defined idea. It is like John Adams's definition of a
Republic, in his letter to Mr. Wythe of Virginia.(2) _It is_, says he,
_an empire of laws and not of men_. But as laws may be bad as well as
good, an empire of laws may be the best of all governments or the worst
of all tyrannies. But John Adams is a man of paradoxical heresies, and
consequently of a bewildered mind. He wrote a book entitled, "_A Defence
of the American Constitutions_," and the principles of it are an attack
upon them. But the book is descended to the tomb of forgetfulness, and
the best fortune that can attend its author is quietly to follow its
fate. John was not born for immortality. But, to return to Federalism.

1 National Intelligencer, Nov. 23d, 1802.--_Editor._

2 Chancellor Wythe, 1728-1806.--_Editor._ vol m--5

In the history of parties and the names they assume, it often happens
that they finish by the direct contrary principles with which they
profess to begin, and thus it has happened with Federalism.

During the time of the old Congress, and prior to the establishment of
the federal government, the continental belt was too loosely buckled.
The several states were united in name but not in fact, and that nominal
union had neither centre nor circle.



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