Thomas Paine Society Symposium
11 June 2016 in the Royal Society of Medicine
1 Wimpole Street London W1G 0AE
9.30. Welcome and Introduction to the Symposium by the Society’s Chairman Professor Bill Speck who gave a short talk: ‘Tom Paine and the State’.
10.00. Professor Jonathan Clark, University of Kansas: ‘Interpreting Thomas Paine’.
11.00. Professor Steve Poole, University of the West of England:
‘Paine, Thelwall and the Spenceans: History as burden?’
2.00 – 2.30. Introduction to the afternoon session by the Society’s Treasurer, Paul Myles : Paul is a DPhil student at the University of St Andrews writing about Thomas Paine in Lewes gave a short talk: ‘The Case of the Officers of Excise’
2.30 – 3.30. Professor Alasdair Smith: ‘Tax revenue, good government and the Wealth of Nations’
3.30 – 4.30. Professor Richard Whatmore, University of St Andrews,
‘Thomas Paine and the failures of states’.
Synopsis of the talks
Professor Jonathan Clark, University of Kansas
Interpreting Thomas Paine
"Jonathan Clark is just completing a monograph on the social and political thought of Thomas Paine, which will be the first such study by a member of the 'Cambridge School' of the history of political thought. In this presentation he offers a preview of some of the results of his research. and provides two specific examples in the areas of slavery and natural rights theory”.
Professor Steve Poole, University of the West of England
Paine, Thelwall and the Spenceans: history as burden?
Paine famously bucked the trend amongst proponents of reform in the 1790s by detaching himself from arguments about historical precedent and replacing them with the more abstract logic of natural rights and legitimate government. However much they revered and circulated ‘Rights of Man’ however, most other radical propagandists of the period found the lure of an anglo-saxon ‘golden age’, magna carta and the 1689 revolutionary settlement too bewitching to disregard and insisted that they were not concerned with changing the constitution but restoring it. These differences distinguished Paine from LCS stalwarts like Thelwall and Baxter for example, and led, in the post-war Spencean movement, to a constitutional theory of armed conflict in which reform and resistance were conflated. This talk explores the value and uses of history to the popular reform movement in England, c.1790-1816.