Does the sea change in the American perception of Thomas Paine--and his inclusion in, and then removal from--the pantheon of Revolutionary heroes tell us more about how much Paine changed? Or about how much the United States did? And what does it say in retrospect about the movement he helped bring into existence?
Few people were more significant to spurring American colonists to undertake their Revolution in 1776 than Thomas Paine. But a quarter of a century later, Thomas Jefferson–who also wrote something profound that year–practically had to sneak Paine into the White House for a visit. What transpired in the intervening years to make one of the great heroes of the Revolution persona non grata?