The Tragedy of Tom Paine with Dr. Richard Bell - Context Travel

The Tragedy of Tom Paine with Dr. Richard Bell


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When Tom Paine, the author of Common Sense, died in June 1809 only a dozen people came to his funeral. This seminar examines Paine’s meteoric rise to celebrity status during the American Revolution and his equally dramatic fall from grace in the decades afterward.

Tom Paine’s burial service was held in Westchester County near the 250-acre farm gifted to Paine by the people of the state of New York in gratitude for his role in stirring the American Revolution. The site of Paine’s funeral wasn’t hard to find or difficult to travel to, yet still, not a single political leader attended.

Dr. Richard Bell examines Paine’s unparalleled ascendance to fame during the American Revolution and his equally sizeable fall from grace in the years following. He illuminates the humble origins of this impoverished immigrant corset-maker and unpacks his extraordinary gifts for political argument. He explains why Paine’s Common Sense (1776) sold so many copies, and why so many people have since credited that little 46-page pamphlet with catalyzing a mass movement focused keenly on the cause of independence.

Bell also explores the surprisingly bitter backlash Paine experienced when he later published the Rights of Man (his 1791 manifesto in support of the social and political extremism of the French Revolution) and the Age of Reason (his 1794 defense of deism, reason, and free thought). Once lionized as our most relatable and revolutionary founding father, Bell argues, Tom Paine died a pariah, too radical and uncompromising for the cautious new country he had called into being.

Richard Bell is Professor of History at the University of Maryland and author of the new book "Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped into Slavery and their Astonishing Odyssey Home" which is shortlisted for the George Washington Prize and the Harriet Tubman Prize. He has held major research fellowships at Yale, Cambridge, and the Library of Congress and is the recipient of the National Endowment of the Humanities Public Scholar award. He serves as a Trustee of the Maryland Center for History and Culture, as an elected member of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, and as a fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

Customer Reviews

Based on 6 reviews
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(6)
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P
P.A.
Outstanding run-through of a fascinating life

This seminar more than delivered. I got to know the great life and times of this improbably figure, someone who (as a Brit) is continually intriguing the more I discover about him. I loved Richard's presentation style and rapport with the (clearly devoted!) audience. Thanks for this presentation, it was a real blast!

V
V.
Another Rick Bell tour-de-force

This was another 'on the edge of my seat' seminar with Rick Bell. Throughout my childhood I drove past Tom Paine's cottage in New Rochelle regularly and never really knew what it was. Now I know not only what was brilliant and tragic about Tom Paine but why it matters to this country's history, and the many ways Paine shaped the formation of this country even into the 20th C.

P
P.D.

I think Dr. Bell should produce a documentary of Thomas Paine. Paine's story is totally compelling and probably not known to very many Americans, and Dr. Bell's presentation was beyond excellent. I thought I knew something about Paine but apparently skipped school on Paine day. Can not get story out of my mind. Fascinating. Thank you Dr. Bell.

A
A.

Guest did not leave comment

J
J.S.

Fascinating. So much of what Richard Bell talked about was new to me. I ve been hoping to find time to refresh my memory and RELEARN American history Richard Bell is exactly what i need . I certainly can say I never has as exhilarating a teacher in high school or professor in college. Love learning with Richard Bell.
Its a treat!

Customer Reviews

Based on 6 reviews
100%
(6)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
P
P.A.
Outstanding run-through of a fascinating life

This seminar more than delivered. I got to know the great life and times of this improbably figure, someone who (as a Brit) is continually intriguing the more I discover about him. I loved Richard's presentation style and rapport with the (clearly devoted!) audience. Thanks for this presentation, it was a real blast!

V
V.
Another Rick Bell tour-de-force

This was another 'on the edge of my seat' seminar with Rick Bell. Throughout my childhood I drove past Tom Paine's cottage in New Rochelle regularly and never really knew what it was. Now I know not only what was brilliant and tragic about Tom Paine but why it matters to this country's history, and the many ways Paine shaped the formation of this country even into the 20th C.

P
P.D.

I think Dr. Bell should produce a documentary of Thomas Paine. Paine's story is totally compelling and probably not known to very many Americans, and Dr. Bell's presentation was beyond excellent. I thought I knew something about Paine but apparently skipped school on Paine day. Can not get story out of my mind. Fascinating. Thank you Dr. Bell.

A
A.

Guest did not leave comment

J
J.S.

Fascinating. So much of what Richard Bell talked about was new to me. I ve been hoping to find time to refresh my memory and RELEARN American history Richard Bell is exactly what i need . I certainly can say I never has as exhilarating a teacher in high school or professor in college. Love learning with Richard Bell.
Its a treat!