Page of Paine

New Sculpture of Thomas Paine

Honors Common Sense

Washington's sword would have been wielded in vain had it not been supported by the pen of Paine. — John Adams

 

Thomas Paine, a hero of freethought and legendary figure of the American Revolution, is immortalized this summer with a new statue erected in Bordentown, New Jersey, where he resided, created inventions and wrote articles after the Revolutionary War was won.

Paine's statue unveiled at a dedication ceremony as part of a festive weekend June 6-8, 1997, featured a historical reenactment of battles and skirmishes which took place prior to the Occupation of Bordentown by the British during the spring of 1778.

The statue features Paine standing with one foot resting up on a rock bearing the inscription "We have in our power to begin the world over again," from his book Common Sense, which inspired the colonists to war on behalf of democratic rights and independence, and not just a tax rebellion. Paine is depicted holding a copy of Common Sense in one hand and gesturing forward with the other. At his feet are his other great works, The Age of Reason, Rights of Man and American Crisis, as well as his musket.

The statue creates the first memorial to Common Sense, which exemplifies the American Revolution. The memorial depicts Paine as both author and soldier. Paine wrote Common Sense in the fall of 1775, in support of representative government, democracy and equality for all. He is credited in some circles with ghost-authoring the Declaration of Independence. This transformed America's mission from a rebellion against taxation into a struggle for independence and self-determination. Paine donated the proceeds from Common Sense to the Revolution. In 1776-77, Paine fought in the army as an Aide-de-Camp for General Greene. In 1777 he was appointed Chairman to the Committee on Foreign Affairs.

During and following the war, Paine made Bordentown his home as a house guest of his wealthy friend Joseph Kirkbride. Kirkbride had fled Pennsbury Manor when his home was burned by the English. Paine purchased property in Bordentown, a house and seven acres, and lived there until 1787 when he travelled to Europe, and again after his return.

Paine's likeness was taken from the life-sitting portrait made by George Romney in 1789. It is the only statue of Paine to do so. Paine's monument at Bordentown is the fifth monument to Paine in the world. The first was erected in New Rochelle, New York in 1832 where his remains were first buried. Another statue in Morristown, New Jersey commemorates the writing of Crisis I. Another exists in Thetford, England, and a fifth in Paris commemorates his role in the French Revolution.

The artist responsible for sculpting the memorial statue to Thomas Paine is Lawrence Holofcener, formerly of the Princeton, New Jersey area, currently residing on the Isle of Wight in England. Holofcener is well known as a playwright, actor and director in addition to his accomplishments as a sculptor. His most famous works include "Allies," depicting Roosevelt and Churchill, which is located on Bond Street in London, and the "Faces of Laurence Olivier," also in London. Holofcener was selected for the project for his artistic abilities, especially his ability to capture expressions in his sculptures, and for his admiration for Thomas Paine as an historical figure and philosopher.

The project to erect a statue began two years ago when the Bordentown Historical Society formed the Thomas Paine Memorial Committee. Following the efforts of George Earle, a long-time resident who has promoted Paine in Bordentown, the committee set about to raise funds and find a sculptor to do a small high relief. The incredible support for the project, including a sizable grant from the James Hervey Johnson Educational Trust, enabled the full life-size sculpture to take form.

Up to 1200 actors with authentic garb, equipment and personas are expected to converge on Bordentown for the Revolutionary War Re-enactment. Two simulated battles will take place on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. In keeping with the spirit of Thomas Paine, all the events and reenactments are open to the public and admission is free.

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