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Return to previous pagePast Exhibition:

One Life: Thomas Paine, The Radical Founding Father
August 7, 2009 through November 29, 2009
First Floor

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This "One Life" exhibition, is devoted to Thomas Paine (1737-1809) whose pamphlet "Common Sense" fired up Americans to get on with a declaration of independence and whose exhortation, "These are the times that try men's souls," General Washington read to his dispirited troops. The story begins in Philadelphia where Paine arrived in 1774, continues through his tumultuous years in England where his anti-monarchy diatribe, the "Rights of Man" brought charges of seditious libel and in revolutionary France where he barely escaped the guillotine. Paine, the author of "The Age of Reason"—a bold attack on organized religion—returned to America in 1802 to find himself scorned by his old associates and much of the public. He died in poverty, his bones were later stolen and dispersed, but his words have resounded down through the ages. Featured in the exhibition will be the museum's recently acquired portrait of Paine depicted by the French artist Laurent Dabos around 1792.

Margaret Christman is the exhibition curator.


Thomas Paine / John Wesley Jarvis / c. 1805 / Oil on canvas / Lent by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, gift of Marian B. Maurice


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