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Friends of Thomas Paine

People like Thomas Paine ... an only child and a newly arrived immigrant to America with no family here ... tended to make good friends in their lifetime.

Because his ideas were so radical and were written in the language of the American colonists, he also made enemies.

Many people assume he had no friends because few people attended his burial.

Not so. These were some of his friends:

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) - Their friendship began when they met in London, were Paine represented the tax-collectors of Lewes and petitioned Parliament on their behalf. At Franklin's suggestion and his supporting letter of introduction to Philadelphia, Paine decided to move to America. Franklin served as a mentor and father-figure to Paine all through their lives. Their friendship never wavered.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) - Many, many letters between these two inventors of many devices were exchanged throughout their lifetimes. Even as President, when Paine's reputation was questioned, Jefferson welcomed him home from France in 1802. Their friendship never changed.

George Washington (1723-1799) - Their strongest relationship occurred during the Revolutionary War when Washington needed crucial public support for the Continental Army. Paine's writing aroused public support as no other writer did at that time. Washington appreciated that and when Paine turned to him for compensation for his efforts, Washington came through for him. At his invitation, Paine accompanied Washington to his Presidential inaugural in New York City.

Nathaniel Greene (1742-1786) - A courageous and daring general, a disavowed Quaker for taking up arms in the war, Greene distinguished himself with his skills as a quartermaster who found resources seemingly when there were none to support the war effort. Paine was with him through major battles of the war.

Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827) - A noted artist during his lifetime, he was also an officer in the war. They met as members of the Philadelphia radical committee that pressured for independence. In 1803, as head of the new museum housed in the American Philosophical Society, he accepted Paine's models of the iron bridge for the museum. A lifelong friend.

Francis Hopkinson (1737-1791) - A friend, patriot and neighbor of the important Bordentown circle of friends who included Paine into his family when he was in town. A lifelong friend whose talents in writing and in music Paine shared.

Clio Rickman. A publisher of the first sympathetic biography of Thomas Paine, he was a lifelong friend whom Paine cited as benefactor in his will. In London, Paine stayed with Rickman. Then in Paris, where Rickman escaped capture by the English for publishing Paine's Rights of Man, they resumed their close friendship that lasted through their lifetimes.

Joseph Kirkbride (1731-1803) - The person whose friendship was responsible for Paine coming to and buying property in Bordentown and living there intermittently from 1778-1803. His family "adopted" Paine and he them. The models of Paine's iron bridge were made on Kirkbride's property. A disavowed Quaker and zealous patriot, Kirkbride's great friendship with Paine ended when he died in 1803; Paine never returned to Bordentown after that.

Nicholas deBoneville (d. 1828) - A French publisher and radical writer who befriended Paine and included him as an "adopted" member of his family in Paris. Pained lived with the deBonnevilles for five years before he left Paris for American in 1802.

Marguerite deBonneville (1772-1846) - Wife to Nicholas and deeply devoted to Paine. She cherished her friendship with Paine, first as hostess of her family and then as a dutiful "daughter" when she became a protecting caregiver who carefully presided over Paine's last days. She translated Paine's articles into French for her husband's newspaper. Paine cited her as the predominant benefactor in his will.

Thomas Addis Emmet (1764-1827) - An exiled Irish patriot, a physician and lawyer, he befriended Paine during his years in New York City. An intimate member of Paine's caregiving group, Emmet assumed power of attorney on Paine's behalf and sold Paine's Bordentown properties in 1808 to pay for the added expenses of caring for him during the last months of his life.

James Monroe (1758-1831) - As a soldier in Washington's army that crossed the Delaware River on the way to the Battle of Trenton, Monroe was acutely aware of Paine's writings that boosted the morale of soldiers in the field. He and his wife rescued Paine from imprisonment in Paris. A lifelong friend.

John Wesley Jarvis (1780-1840) - New York City friend and artist who is responsible for Paine's death mask, a painting and the famous silhouette made of Thomas Paine before he died.

Joel Barlow (1754-1812) - An American poet responsible for printing Paine's Age of Reason, part 1. A patriot and a good friend among others in Paris.


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