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John Adams on Thomas Paine

Adams wasn't a big fan of Paine--envying his fame while worrying about his radical democratic ideals. And he objected to Paine's increasingly pugnacious deism.When he wanted to be, Adams was capable of what today would be seen as the highest level of snark. Here's his comment on the title of Paine's The Age of Reason:I am willing you should call this the Age of Frivolity, as you do, and would not object if you had named it the Age of Folly, Vice, Frenzy, Brutality, Daemons, Bonaparte, Tom Paine, or the Age of the Burning Brand from the Bottomless Pit, or anything but the Age of Reason. I know not whether any man in the world has had more influence on its inhabitants or affairs or the last thirty years than Tom Paine. There can no severer satyr on the age. For such a mongrel between pig and puppy, begotten by a wild boar on a bitch wolf, never before in any age of the world was suffered by the poltroonery of mankind, to run through such a career of mischief. Call it then the Age of Paine.Oh, snap!

About the Author

Cathleen Kaveny is the Darald and Juliet Libby Professor in the Theology Department and Law School at Boston College.



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Those guys really knew snark!It's the sort of thing that, on occasion, resulted in an invitation to meet at dawn to fire pistols at 20 paces.

Today, however, it would be attorneys at 20 paces, neither in any hurry to move, as the meter goes ticking on.

Wow and I thought Hannity and Beck were over the top. Heck it's an American tradition. ;)

I believe the proper reply to Mr Adams isOh John, tell us how you really feel.Would that I could use such language at work. But a sense of humor does not mix well with financial backoffice work.

I don't know what I find funnier. This, or the fact that George Mason University has a heavy libertarian presence, when Mason was one of the early DFH's, like Paine.

Okay, what's a DFH?

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