A friend to humanity and a foe to tyrants, Thomas Paine championed the rights of the “common” people and believed emphatically in the dignity and rights of all humans, which drove him to challenge the divine rights of kings, forever changing the course of history. The Thomas Paine Memorial Association (TPMA) is proud to announce we’re getting closer to honoring his legacy with a monument in Washington, DC thanks to the passage and presidential approval of House Bill 6720.
Under the leadership of Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Maryland) and Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Indiana), the bill was included in the 2022 Omnibus Package. The House and Senate passed the package and, on December 27th, President Joseph Biden signed the bill. TPMA will now begin working with the National Capital Memorial Advisory Commission (NCMAC) on advancing the project with the goal to unveil the monument in 2026 to coincide with the 250th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. Thanks to a generous pledge and triple match made by Todd Stiefel, president and founder of the Stiefel Freethought Foundation, no government or tax-payer money will be used for the creation of the Thomas Paine monument. TPMA will work with commissioned sculptor Zenos Frudakis to memorialize Thomas Paine in a way befitting his central role in the founding of the United States of America, as well as his worldwide call for liberty, justice, and equality.
We encourage you to commemorate this success during the annual Thomas Paine birthdate celebration held on Sunday, January 29th at 12pm PST/3pm EST on Zoom: bit.ly/PaineProclamation. Rep. Raskin will deliver a heartfelt welcome and Rep. Spartz will share why she supports the monument. Gregory Claeys, Professor Emeritus of History at the University of London, will give the keynote speech about efforts to uncover previously unattributed Paine writings. The event will also feature songs from The Crossing, a new musical about Thomas Paine by Jason Huza and John Allen Watts.
The 2023 celebration is co-sponsored by Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), Secular Student Alliance, Center For Inquiry (CFI), and The Freethought Society. While we will celebrate Thomas Paine’s birthdate on January 29 (born 1737), Thomas Paine Day is June 8 (when he died in 1809), recognized as a time to reflect upon and honor his life accomplishments. In keeping with the 2023 event theme, Thomas Paine Birthdate Proclamation Celebration, TPMA board members—including actor Ian Ruskin; author, comedian, and monologist Julia Sweeney; author and educator Christopher Cameron; actor John de Lancie and his wife Marnie Mosiman de Lancie; FFRF’s Annie Laurie Gaylor; CFI’s Robyn Blumner; author, editor, and educator Frances Chiu; and author, producer and director Ann Druyan—will read Thomas Paine Day proclamations and provide instructions on how to get more written and approved by mayors, governors, and city councils for June 8, 2023.
Thomas Paine was one the greatest political writers and philosophers of the Revolutionary era and a patriot far ahead of his time. He served in the Continental Army, designed and patented a revolutionary design in single-span bridge technology, helped to establish the nation’s oldest and most honored abolition society, and advocated for old-age pensions, public education, and much more.
“More than any other contemporary, Paine grasped the importance of political and economic justice,” said Chiu. “He was not only among the first to propose American independence and a fully representative government in Common Sense, but also the first to lay the foundations of the modern welfare state including universal suffrage, assistance for the poor, and ‘Social Security’ in his book Rights of Man.”
Druyan stated, “Through his love of reason, his bravery, and his thrilling prose, Thomas Paine was the genius who created the dream of America. May the future monument created in his honor be a token of our renewed commitment to fulfill it.”
Cameron, a professor of history and chair of the Africana Studies department at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, stated, “Thomas Paine was one of the most significant Founding Fathers in a number of ways, especially in his early and consistent condemnation of slavery. Shortly after publishing Common Sense in 1776, Paine authored an antislavery essay and remained active in the abolitionist movement for the next thirty years, supporting Pennsylvania’s 1780 gradual abolition law, joining the Pennsylvania Abolition Society in 1787, and opposing the British slave trade in the 1790s. For this and so much more, he is worthy of a fitting monument in Washington, DC.”
Join the celebration of the life and work of Thomas Paine on Sunday, January 29th at 12pm PST/3pm EST on Zoom: bit.ly/PaineProclamation