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#26 2004-08-16 14:56:37

Palomar
Member
From: USA
Registered: 2002-05-30
Posts: 9,734

Re: Thomas Paine [1737 - 1809]

As soon as the Revolutionary War had ended, bids were sought for
bridge designs for the Schuylkill River. Paine decided to build a
model and submit it to the bridge committee. He hired John Hall to
assist him, a middle-aged mechanic from England who had emigrated to
Philadelphia in 1785. Hall lived, as a boarder, in the home of
Colonel Kirkbride there in Bordentown -- which, as we already know,
was right next door to Paine's humble little cottage. They worked on
the model for approximately 1 year. The working relationship between
Paine and Hall was generally amicable and highly cooperative, except
for one instance when, shortly before taking the model to
Philadelphia, one side of the bridge had begun showing a bulge which
wasn't there before. Paine blamed Hall, who denied it; they began
raising their voices at one another, and Hall felt resentment towards
Paine for the accusation that he'd somehow damaged the model.

During the building of the model, Mr. Hall's journal records visits
to Paine by such distinguished men as: Benjamin Franklin, Gouverneur
Morris (who later became an enemy of Paine; the details of that are
unknown to me at the moment); Dr. Benjamin Rush (refer to Archives
and Links section; he was a very distinguished physician); Tench
Francis, Robert Morris, and two men named only Rittenhouse and Redman.

Three days before Christmas of 1786 the 13-foot model was carefully
packed up, tied to a sled and taken to Philadelphia. Franklin
graciously allowed Paine to showcase the model in the garden of
Franklin's home on Market Street: "There, it was a 9-days' wonder."
Mr. Turner tells us visitors were invited to walk on the model, even
stamp on it hard with their feet -- it held up peoples' weight
without cracking. On New Year's Day the model was moved to the
Assembly committee room; it remained there for weeks "and was stared
at by virtually all the inhibitants of the town who could walk."

--Cindy


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#27 2004-10-04 15:12:11

Palomar
Member
From: USA
Registered: 2002-05-30
Posts: 9,734

Re: Thomas Paine [1737 - 1809]

*It's been over 1-1/2 months since I last posted in this thread??  Sorry for the delay, to whomever may be following this thread (time certainly flies!  :-\ ):

The Assembly appointed a committee to examine the bridge; they
returned a weak but not disapproving endorsement. Mr. Turner
suggests the bridge should have been promoted differently, i.e. it
should have been built over a small stream of water and tested in
that manner. One of the biggest drawbacks to the acceptance of
Paine's iron bridge was the fact that the Schuylkill's span was 400
feet. The committee seriously questioned whether a single span of
Paine's bridge that size could hold its own weight, let alone the
added weight of pedestrians, traffic and cargo.

By March 1787 the decision regarding what bridge would be built over
the Schuylkill was still undecided. Paine decided to pack the model
up and take it to France, to have it examined by the French Academy
of Sciences; Mr. Turner wonders if Paine did this on his own
initiative or upon Benjamin Franklin's advice.

On April 26, 1787 Paine departed New York aboard a French packet,
with the bridge model stashed away in the hold. Exactly a month
later -- May 26 -- he arrived at Havre. The customs authorities
there told him they would be unable to deliver the model to Paris
until the last week of June; Paine traveled on to Paris without it
(the bridge later arrived on schedule). Paine had in his possession
many letters of recommendation on his behalf from Benjamin Franklin
to distinguished Frenchmen. Unfortunately Paine didn't read or speak
a lick of French; the going must have been a bit difficult. Thomas
Jefferson was in Paris at the same time, serving as American minister
to the court of Louis XVI; Paine and Jefferson had been friends for
10 or more years, and so this was a bonus to Paine in more ways than
one. Jefferson was interested in Paine's bridge, especially as he
too was interested in mechanics and was also an inventor.

--Cindy


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#28 2004-10-05 01:51:13

Shaun Barrett
Member
From: Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Registered: 2001-12-28
Posts: 2,843

Re: Thomas Paine [1737 - 1809]

This is a remarkable tour-de-force. Your narrative has a very natural 'feel' to it, flowing smoothly and readably, while simultaneously retaining that authority and wealth of detail which can only come from an intimate knowledge of the subject matter. I've found myself transported back to the late eighteenth century very effectively.
    I can't recall if you've ever mentioned publishing it but, if not, maybe you should give it some thought. If any one of your talents outshines the rest, this kind of writing must surely be it!

    Many thanks, Cindy!     :up:    smile


The word 'aerobics' came about when the gym instructors got together and said: If we're going to charge $10 an hour, we can't call it Jumping Up and Down.   - Rita Rudner

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#29 2004-10-18 07:42:23

Palomar
Member
From: USA
Registered: 2002-05-30
Posts: 9,734

Re: Thomas Paine [1737 - 1809]

*Aw Shaun...you're making me blush.  Thanks for those kind words.  smile

-*-

Three men from the Academy looked Paine's bridge over: Msr. Leroy,
Msr. Borda and Msr. Bosson; they were appointed to consider the
bridge's merits and drawbacks, and give their opinions as to the
bridge's practicality.

On August 29 these 3 men returned a favorable report. They pointed
out that an expanse of 400 feet long without a middle pier had never
been accomplished or attempted in actual engineering practice, but
thought "it is ingeniously imagined, that the construction of it is
simple, solid and proper to give it the necessary strength for
resisting the effects resulting from its burden, and that it is
deserving of a trial. In short, it may furnish a new example of the
application of a metal which has not hitherto been used in any works
on an extensive scale, although on many occasions it is employed with
the greatest success."

However, Mr. Turner reads more caution than praise in the report; he
points out that the "great era of iron and steel was still in the dim
future"; too early for Paine's age. He reiterates to the reader
that, in Paine's time, iron was used chiefly for horseshoes, pans,
pots, nails and rims of wagon wheeles. "A bridge built wholly of
iron and without piers would be a startling innovation, and that is
what the French engineers meant to say in their courteous way."

Paine had been impatient for the committee's report; he wanted to go
to England and see his elderly mother, who was already 90 years old.
The day after the committee's report was given to him, he made his
way back to Thetford.

--Cindy


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#30 2004-11-07 23:00:38

Palomar
Member
From: USA
Registered: 2002-05-30
Posts: 9,734

Re: Thomas Paine [1737 - 1809]

*Paine returned to Thetford, to visit his elderly mother; she was in
her 90s by this time. He saw Thetford as it was when he'd last seen
it 13 years prior: Drab, with narrow streets and homes crowded
together. Mr. Woodward speculates that Paine likely contrasted that
depressing village to Bordentown, Connecticut, where people had
spacious lawns and gardens, and homes painted in bright colors.

His father died 6 months before Paine had arrived in France; on
November 14, 1786 Father Paine died of smallpox. Mother Paine would
die 4 years after Thomas' visit [in 1791], but in the meantime he
made sure she received a weekly allowance from his own funds --
enough to provide her with ample food, clothing and firewood.

He'd sent his iron bridge model to Sir Joseph Banks of the Royal
Society in London. He had also requested a patent for the bridge
with the English patent office. I'm amazed that he would signal his
return to England by notifying even a few authorities...I'm even more
surprised they didn't arrest him and persecute him for what he'd
written against King and Country in his revolutionary pamphlets. I'm
glad they didn't, of course, but I'm surprised he wasn't harrassed in
any way.

His visit in England did not last long; by December he was once again
in Paris.

--Cindy


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#31 2004-11-28 11:31:27

Palomar
Member
From: USA
Registered: 2002-05-30
Posts: 9,734

Re: Thomas Paine [1737 - 1809]

*Mr. Woodward now discusses why Paine wasn't considered a candidate to
the Constitutional Convention of Philadelphia beginning May 14, 1787
(which was prior to his leaving America for France, of course).

First, a little background information: The 13 colonies were now
States in a Confederation (with its "Articles of Confederacy") called
the "United States."  However, The States at this time were anything but
united; the war was over, and now the States were being selfish and
uncooperative with one another. I recall reading in Catherine
Drinker Bowen's very excellent book _Miracle at Philadelphia_
(regarding the Constitutional Convention) that George Washington was
disappointed, dismayed and becoming genuinely alarmed at how the once
very sunny, promising future of the newly-free and former British
colonies was now seeing rapidly-gathering storm clouds on the
horizon. For instance, New York demanded customs duties on
vegetables and firewood brought onto its soil from New Jersey. New
Jersey retaliated by demanding that New York pay it 30 pounds per
month for a lighthouse which stood on Sandy Hook; Sandy Hook was on
New Jersey soil, although New York owned the lighthouse. Connecticut
and Pennsylvania were on the verge of war because the Connecticut
government claimed it deserved the taxes collected from Connecticut
Yankees who lived in Pennsylvania. The better brains in America
figured (rightfully so) that the States had got to be joined by a
federal government...otherwise, all would be lost sooner or later;
and probably sooner, considering the bad relations between the States
was growing progressively worse.

--Cindy


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#32 2005-01-11 13:58:13

Palomar
Member
From: USA
Registered: 2002-05-30
Posts: 9,734

Re: Thomas Paine [1737 - 1809]

*Sorry for the delay.  Trouble with the Archives section of my Yahoo! group, and I'm not sure how many folks are continuing to follow this thread:

Mr. Woodward tells us why he believes Thomas Paine was not considered
nor chosen as a delegate to the Convention: He was considered too
uncompromising. Paine's outlook was that something was either true
or false; no "gray areas," no "middle of the road." There was a lot
of resentment and quarrels between the states and between the
Convention delegates; diplomacy cloaked in "milky phrases" and
compromise were key to making the Convention a success, and these
were anathema to Paine's nature.

Mr. Woodward also reminds us of the changes in post-war attitudes and
opinions. "The Americans were no longer a swarm of ragged Colonials
fighting desperately for their liberty and begging the aid of foreign
powers. The Colonies had become a nation, with a strong element of
conservatism in its outlook."

This conservatism clashed with Paine's ideals. As we've learned
previously, most of the Founding Fathers were upper class...and they
intended that the upper class would rule while the "mob" (lower and
working classes) shut up, kept working and stayed in their place. Of
course, Paine was absolutely opposed to any form of aristocracy.

Paine believed everyone should stand on their own two feet, meaning
they should work and provide for themselves and their loved ones.
That winning or losing should be based on a person's merit and
exertions. Paine was an intense individualist who strongly believed
government should be reduced to its most minimal workable level. As
we know, he was absolutely opposed to power via inheritance.

Paine also was disgusted by the continued presence of paupers in the
new nation...not because of the paupers themselves, but because there
was enough food and work for everyone. Mr. Woodward tells us that
the powerful conservatives felt pauperism was "necessary" because
of "the conviction that prosperity would destroy the economic value
of the laborer, craftsman and mechanic." The conservatives believed
(similar to their counterparts back in England) that if poor working
people were paid well they would begin indulging in vices and become
lazy, inefficient, etc. The conservatives believed and wanted the
working poor to remain close to the edge of starvation...a situation
and an attitude which enraged Paine.

Paine also believed that every man, regardless of his life's
condition, should have the right to vote; that free schooling should
be provided for all children; that old-age pensions should be
established for the benefit of the working class; and (as we have
already discussed) that slavery should be abolished.

"To the aristocratic conception of civilization these ideas were like
deadly rattlesnakes slithering about underfoot, so it was quietly
resolved that Mr. Thomas Paine be given no part in the deliberations
of the Convention."

But Benjamin Franklin WAS at the Convention...thank goodness for that.

--Cindy

P.S.:  Unless 4 regular, registered (for at least 6 months) members of New Mars let me know privately (via Messenger or e-mail) they'd like me to continue this thread, I'll request it be locked and I can simply forward material to e-mail addresses upon request from there.  Thanks.  :up:


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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