For Aldridge’s sources, he used a lot of primary sources. He used the Pennsylvania Packet, which was very often when writing this book. In the Notes section of the book, (MR 325) he listed this document many times. It explains that this packet is where Paine declared financial arguments and published political arguments in the Pennsylvania Packet (MR 328). Articles from the packet were a major source of his information. It is primary because the articles are from the time period, which made this information reliable. The facts are from what was going on in the time, from the people who were experiencing it. The Pennsylvania Constitution, as well as magazines and newspaper articles and letters from that time period were also primary sources. He used things like Journals of the Continental Congress, New York Public Advertiser, Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, and ideas from information from Common Sense (MR 325).
All of these letters and articles were in the time period that Thomas Paine, as well as the people who knew him. They were written by people who knew personally what was going on. There were also memoirs and memorials that he got information from. Information about his daughters came from Mrs. Paine’s obituary. He used Memoirs of…Benjamin Franklin (ME 360) to explain when Benjamin Franklin gave suggestions for Common Sense. He also used secondary sources. We know that these are not primary because they came from a later time period. Paine lived until the mid-1700s. This means that articles, books, and any source written in the late 1800s and 1900s were not primary. They could not have come straight from Paine himself, or people who lived in the same time period. Aldridge used sources such as Charles Willson Peale, A Memorial containing travels through Life or sundry incidents in the life of Dr. Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin and American Foreign Policies, and Am. Hist. Rev.
This book was written about everything known about his life. It tells about his personal life. It went into more detail about his adult, political life, but does give information about his childhood. He uses many sources to inquire all there is to know about Paine, making the book simply a documentary. It specifically tells about Paine in his later years of life. It explains that Paine was very interested in the political events at the time, and was also motivated by the leaders he came to meet. He was influenced by the Quakers. On page 13, it says that the “direction of Paine’s mature thought may have been derived from his Quaker background(MR 13).” However, his parents are what influenced his religion, which was a huge part of why Paine was the way he was. He was very interested in science and english.
When he went to Philadelphia in 1774, it was when the colonies were dealing with the Boston Massacre, as well as a lot of danger rising in the colonies. It was those events that “undoubtedly stirred Paine to examine critically the political ties binding the colonies to Great Britain.” It says that Paine was by temperament a revolutionary, so with all the commotion about revolution seemed appealing to him. His beliefs about the Old Testament in the Christian bible is what made his very unpopular. He questioned the divinity of Jesus Christ, making people begin to despise him. The book mainly talks about his political life, but explains part of his younger life to help us understand what his influences were. Yes, it talks about his time in France. He went over for a translation of a book. He got arrested, where he became friends with his cellmate and wrote in their free time. He got very very sick for a while in the time that he was in jail.
Thomas Paine was a central figure in the book, as well as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, all the political figures, and the people who helped write or influence Common Sense, Age of Reason, The Rights of Man, and the documents that Paine wrote. It does not discuss his personal life in detail. It tells about his mother and father, as well as their Quaker background at the beginning (MR,13) to explain where his influences came from. They were definately central figures in his life. His cellmate in jail when he was in France was a central figure in his life. They spent time writing together about things that they did not want others to hear. Always political men were central figures in his life. Benjamin Rush was also a good friend to Paine, especially during the time of writing Common Sense, and influenced him throughout that time. He struggled financially, especially in his younger adult years. Having a difficult time financially always shapes a person to look at things differently. I think this gave him the mentally and motivation to lean strongly on his words and his impact in the world. Not being successful earlier in life made him use his words instead of money to get people to listen to him. Whether people like what he said or not, he always got people to listen to what he was saying, and I believe he learned to do that because in his younger life he was forced to work hard for everything.
It does not seem biased. It is very informational, like a documentary. The introduction (MOR 9) says that the book favors Paine, but is unbiased. It is neither for, nor against him. Its purpose was to gather and explain the information known about Paine’s life. The reader can conclude that it is very in the middle. The book simply uses information. When explaining the writing that made Paine very unpopular, Age Of Reason, Aldridge does not state whether or not he agrees with the writing. He does not bash Paine, but also does not talk him up. When he got arrested, Aldridge does not act like he was happy or mad about Paine’s arrest. He just stated where and why, giving all information that was present. It was not at all more negative than positive. The whole book talks about complete facts. There are not many, if any, opinions in the book of the author, or the documents he got the information from. When he talked about the reactions from the Christians after Age of Reason, he did not lean toward one side of whether they were being wrong or right. Aldridge was very careful to not put emotion and opinion in the text.
No, the author does not have an explicit theory about Jefferson. He was not discussed until mid book, page 112, so we are left to figure it out throughout the book. Jefferson was only mentioned as a friend of Paine. “At least two of his friends remaining in Paris, Lafayette and Jefferson…” (MR 112) tells the reader that Jefferson and Paine are friends. In September 1789, Paine writes to Jefferson (MR 115), showing that they have mutual respect for each other. They shared things going on with each other. Aldridge brings up multiple examples of them sharing news throughout the book about politics and more. He specifically says that “Paine’s ostensible purpose was to ‘expose the baseness of the federal faction,’ but he was actually defending the honor of his friend, Jefferson.”