A prominent scholar and historian has endorsed the construction of a statue of Thomas Paine in the nation’s capital — providing the project a huge spur.
Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., introduced legislation in February (HR 6720) to authorize the building of a much-needed memorial to Thomas Paine.
“Despite his catalytic role in founding America and our constitutional republic, Thomas Paine remains too often on the dark outskirts of history,” Raskin said. “This memorial to Paine — amazingly already prefunded with a flood of voluntary contributions and pledges from private citizens — will be a powerful and dramatic addition to the symbolic life of Washington, D.C.”
Now, Historical Society of Pennsylvania CEO David Brigham is enthusiastically backing the idea.
“As Philadelphia was the political center of the American Revolution, and with Thomas Paine as a leader of the movement towards independence in 1776, this recognition project is an important step towards unifying America around the common ground of the American Revolution,” says Brigham. “1776 began with Paine's Common Sense, which turned the tide towards independence and led to the Declaration of Independence and the idea of the universal rights of mankind that underlies the Declaration. 1776 ended with Paine’s Crisis I, the ‘times that tried men's souls,’ which helped turn the tide in the Revolutionary War.”
Co-sponsors of the Thomas Paine memorial bill include Reps. Jared Huffman, D-Calif., Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., Mark Pocan, D-Wis., Sean Casten, D-Ill., Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., James McGovern, D-Mass., Mark DeSaulnier, D-Calif., and Thomas Suozzi, D-N.Y. The legislation will authorize the Thomas Paine Memorial Association to establish the commemorative work in the District of Columbia. The association is working with renowned sculptor Zenos Frudakis, and the statue will be paid for through private funds. The Thomas Paine Memorial Association is the recipient of a very generous pledge from Todd Stiefel and the Stiefel Freethought Foundation — which will ensure that the memorial will become a reality.
“A staunch abolitionist, Thomas Paine popularized the idea that justice and equality must be the basis of government, and laid down the ideals of American democracy,” adds Brigham. “A prominent statue to Paine is long overdue.”
Members of the Thomas Paine Memorial Association (TPMA) are delighted to receive support from such a luminary.
“This endorsement by a major American educator and art historian means a lot,” comments Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president and co-founder serving as the secretary of TPMA. “This endorsement will convince many minds about the necessity of the project.”
Margaret Downey, TPMA president, states, “The endorsement of the Thomas Paine statue project by David Brigham provides a great opportunity to educate the public about the importance of recognizing Thomas Paine’s accomplishments — which include advancing democracy, justice and equality in the United States of America. TPMA thanks Brigham for his support as it paves the way for more experts to join in the effort.”
The Thomas Paine Memorial Association is confident that the project to memorialize the “Forgotten Founder” will get a substantial boost due to the approval of experts in the field — especially someone as renowned as David Brigham.