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European perspectives on a longer Atlantic World – 4-5 May 2010, University of Turin. Marco Mariano and Federica Morelli (Coord.)
Matteo Battistini

Living in Transition in the Atlantic World: Democratic Revolution and Commercial Society in the Political Writings of Thomas Paine

[27/06/2012]

Résumé

By reconstructing Thomas Paine's vision of the Atlantic world, this paper will discuss three main points. Firstly, it will be demonstrated that Paine’s political thought articulated an understanding of the historical and theoretical relationship between commercial society and representative democracy. Thiswill highlight the convergences and divergences between the American and French revolutions, and the mechanisms of political and social transition that moved the Atlantic world into the nineteenth century. Secondly, it will be argued that this historical and theoretical relationship between commercial society and representative democracy, found in Paine’s work, claims to reconsider contrasting conceptions of Atlantic history. From its beginnings, Atlantic history has been treated as political history, but new Atlantic studies - such as social and economic histories or histories of material culture - have done much to eclipse the political aspects of the history of the Atlantic world by looking at other, equally interesting factors. By reading Paine, this paper will instead argue that a faithful account of Atlantic history cannot hold on to a strict distinction between the political and social. Instead, the political and the societal are interrelated, both conceptual camera lenses through which the Atlantic world during this era can be more accurately captured.

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“Thomas Paine is unlearned; but nature has given him a strong, though coarse, understanding, with much originality of thought and energy of expression. He is fitted by nature to be a democratic Leader.1

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  • 2  Thomas Paine, « African Slavery in America », « Reflections on the Life and Death of Lord Clive » (...)

1Thomas Paine was one of the major political figures in the Atlantic world during the age of democratic revolutions. His biography and writings link the political and social changes that took place in Europe with those of America. At the age of twenty, during the Seven Years War, Paine served on a privateer, the King of Prussia, and experienced first-hand the commercial rivalry and ensuing enmity that existed between the two most formidable European states of that time, Britain and France. These two were each attempting to establish themselves as the supreme political and economic power in the Atlantic world in terms of colonization and imperial domination. Written as a response to his experiences as an excise officer, Paine’s The Case of the Officers of Excise (1772) denounced the increasing disparity between rich and poor, and criticized the fiscal and administrative sinews of the British state, in particular its policies of indirect taxation, which regulated and sustained its national and international commercial expansion. In 1774, when Paine arrived in Philadelphia, he was astonished by the economic development of the colonies and their commercial integration, but he simultaneously realized that America would have flourished even more if contemporary British imperial and mercantilist policies had not controlled and curbed the colonies’ trade, market and finance. In his early writings, published in the «Pennsylvania Magazine»,Paine argued against the British slave trade, and attacked the fiscal and military interventions of the British state, which were turning the old empire, which had been built on commerce, into one in which the relationship between Britain and her colonies was one of territorial domination2.

  • 3  Thomas Paine, « The Magazine in America » in Philip S. Foner (ed.), The Complete Writings, vol. 2, (...)
  • 4  It has long been an Anglo-Americain historical thesis that Great Britain and the United States wer (...)

2His immediate understanding of the Atlantic world was therefore somewhat contradictory. On the one hand, Paine viewed the Atlantic as being part of the European political system of states and their imperial projections, as their fiscal and military entities competed for the domination of America's colonies and, consequently, of international markets. On the other, Paine asserted that “the air of the Atlantic disagrees with the constitution of foreign vices”3, that is, with monarchies, wars and poverty. In his opinion, crossing the ocean offered those who undertook the journey the opportunity to acquire knowledge, improve commerce and achieve personal independence and liberty. As a result, for Paine, the Atlantic world had the potential to be a major economic and cultural space for commercial expansion and civilization, and a tumultuous place of rebellion against monarchies, empires and servitudes. His foresight proved to be correct: the coming age of the democratic revolutions would bring dramatic changes to the eighteenth-century Atlantic world4.

  • 5  The notions of civilization and commercial society shaped the eighteenth-century British Atlantic (...)

3In England, Paine was an adventurous sailor fuelled by patriotic heroism, and an honest excise officer of the British government. But in America he repudiated his Britishness in order to pursue his political project of turning the old world upside down. In Common Sense,Paine launched the Doctrine of Independence by arguing for popular sovereignty and free and equal representation, using the notion of the “free state” that came from the seventeenth-century English experience of the Commonwealth. In Rights of Man (1791-92), he explicitly linked the origins of the French Revolution to the events of the American War of Independence and expanded the modern notion of representative democracy. In his Dissertation on First Principles of Government (1795), he broadened the argument for a democratic claim to equal rights and universal suffrage to Holland and subsequently to all the other countries of Europe. As we will see, for Paine, America and Europe shared the same conceptual architecture for thinking about and legitimating the modern nation-state, one born out of revolution. Moreover, throughout his work in this period, from Common Sense through to Agrarian Justice (1796), Paine did not base his reasoning solely on political philosophy: he also considered civilization and commercial society, addressing their emancipatory value and questioning their injustices and inequalities. The result was not only a cross-Atlantic circulation of political language, but also an innovative vocabulary which utilised the societal as a means to understand the political5.

4With the above in mind, this paper will discuss three main points. Firstly, it will be demonstrated that Thomas Paine’s political thought articulated an understanding of the historical and theoretical relationship between commercial society and representative democracy. Thiswill highlight the convergences and divergences between the American and French revolutions, and the mechanisms of political and social transition that moved the Atlantic world into the nineteenth century. Secondly, it will be argued that this historical and theoretical relationship between commercial society and representative democracy, found in Paine’s work, claims to reconsider contrasting conceptions of Atlantic history. From its beginnings, Atlantic history has been treated as political history, but new Atlantic studies - such as social and economic histories or histories of material culture - have done much to eclipse the political aspects of the history of the Atlantic world by looking at other, equally interesting factors. By reading Paine, this paper will instead argue that a faithful account of Atlantic history cannot hold on to a strict distinction between the political and social. Instead, the political and the societal are interrelated, both conceptual camera lenses through which the Atlantic world during this era can be more accurately captured.

The Irreconcilable Democratic Revolutions

  • 6  Thomas Paine, « Common Sense » in The Complete Writings, vol. 2, p. 9.

5In Common Sense, Paine did not only announce the foundation of free states in places where Europeans had founded the colonies. He also translated the theoretical speculation of the seventeenth-century doctrine of natural law into a political performance, by presenting the representative government as potentially universal. American Independence established natural equality as a universal principle that aimed at abolishing not only monarchy and hereditary succession, but also the ownership of property as a qualification to vote. He strongly argued that “mankind being originally equals, […] the equality could only be destroyed by some subsequent circumstances.” In his opinion, the distinction between rich and poor had become oppression, and the division of men into kings and subjects had created a race of men “exalted above the rest, and distinguished like some new species”6. Natural equality served therefore as a foundation for political equality, and the rights of mankind meant that the new, free and independent states should be founded on a basis of equal representation.

  • 7  Thomas Paine, « Four Letters on Interesting Subjects » in Common Sense and Other Writings, 1st ed. (...)
  • 8  Thomas Paine, « A Serious Address to the People of Pennsylvania » in The Complete Writings, vol. 2(...)
  • 9  Spartanus, « The Interest of America. Letter I », The New York Gazette, June 7, 1776. John G. A. P (...)

6What essentially distinguished the free states of the new world from the monarchical states of the old one was a changed understanding of what a constitution was, which had shifted away from that which had been derived from the English eighteenth-century tradition. In Four Letters on Interesting Subjects published between May and July 1776, during the Pennsylvania state constitution debate, Paine argued that American Independence had established a new idea of constitution: it was no longer either a royal charter granted to a colony by the English crown, nor an unwritten constitution that was determined by the accumulation of statute and common law and which rested entirely on the decisions of an unrepresentative parliament and the discretion of judges. In this sense, he wrote that “the English have no Constitution,” but rather a government without restriction: the power wielded by the legislature, by the king, lords and commons, being an “absolute power.” Paine said that a constitution should instead be an “act of all”7, namely a political performance of people forming a constitution of their own, abolishing the titles of baron and proprietor and making indisputable the principle of equality. But Paine not only conceived of a state’s constitution as the written fundamental law based on popular sovereignty. More importantly, he connected the revolutionary process of constitution-writing with the popular claim for an extension of suffrage. A constitution thereby became the democratic concept that would regulate the political participation of social groups previously excluded from politics. Paine criticized “such distinctions of rights, as shall expel the poor”8. While he explicitly spoke of democracy only when he arrived in Europe, enthusiastic mechanics, artisans and farmers toasting the unknown author of Common Sense were using it to argue that America “should be a proper democracy”9.

7Political equality, free and equal representation and a constitution would become the main political notions that legitimated the modern nation-state, not just in America, but also in Europe. Above all, the American Revolution steered the course of Atlantic politics towards representative democracy. In the second part of Rights of Man,Paine argued that the American Revolution had changed the meaning of democracy by combining it with the notion of representation. After the revolution, democracy lost its ancient meaning of a direct and simple form of government:

  • 10  Thomas Paine, « Rights of Man. Part Second » in The Complete Writings, vol. 1, p. 371. From readin (...)

“By ingrafting representation upon democracy, we arrive at a system of government capable of embracing and confederating all the various interests and every extent of territory and population, and that also with advantages as much superior to hereditary government […] It is on this system that the American government is founded. It is representation ingrafted upon the democracy”10.

  • 11  The democratic revolution paradigm of Robert Palmer vindicated Paine’s approach. Robert Palmer, Th (...)
  • 12  Thomas Paine, « Letter to Georges Jacques Danton » in The Complete Writings, vol. 2, p. 1335-1336. (...)

8Paine aimed to translate and transmit the idea of American Independence as a democratic revolution, to bring America to Europe. He was the first to take an Atlantic perspective, based on the diffusion of America's example to Europe. From this point of view, his approach backs up the historiographical thesis that the two shores of the Atlantic ocean shaped a common political history11. But Paine became disillusioned by events in Great Britain and France, particularly after his ten-month imprisonment during the revolutionary government of Robespierre. Europe betrayed his theoretical ambition and political claims. In England and Ireland, radical political associations such as the London Corresponding Society, the Society for Constitution Information and United Irish, which had printed cheap editions of Rights of Man by the thousand, failed to call for a national convention, constitutional reform and enlarged suffrage. The British government issued a proclamation against wicked and seditious writings, the leaders of the associations were arrested and in December 1792, Paine was outlawed. He crossed the English Channel and took refuge in Paris, taking the seat in the National Assembly to which he had recently been elected. In France he saw with his own eyes the degeneration of the democratic revolution into the Terror. He also saw clearly that Europe was not America. As Paine wrote on 6 May 1793, in a letter addressed to George Jacques Danton, the French were not able to write a stable and lasting constitution, because “not only the representatives of the departments but representation itself is publicly insulted”12.

  • 13  Corinna Wagner, « Loyalist Propaganda and Life of Tom Paine: ‘Hypocritical Monster’ », Journal for (...)

9The problematic relationship between America and Europe thereafter became the dominant theme of his political thought. The failure of the democratic revolution in Europe posed questions to what Paine had argued in Common Sense and Rights of Man. What were the obstructions to the Atlantic transmission of the revolution? Why was the new idea of a constitution unsuccessful in Britain? Did the prejudice of Englishmen in favour of their unwritten constitution explain the unsuccessful abolition of hereditary monarchy? And moreover, what kept the conception of representative democracy from finding a stable and lasting constitutional form in France? Did the strong popular persuasion that the Rousseauian volonté générale could not be represented explain the degeneration of the democratic revolution into the Terror13?

10These questions considered only the political dimension of the problematic relationship between America and Europe, underlining areas of continuity and discontinuity between the forms of government and constitutional models that affected their respective revolutions. As a consequence, Paine understood the Atlantic world as a juxtaposition of separate political entities that were following different national stories. He failed to grasp the societal aspects of what was happening until, in Agrarian Justice, he considered the question of the failure of Europe to reply to the American Revolution by shifting his attention from politics to society. He replaced his previous comparative approach with a universal outlook that focused on the Atlantic world as a whole. The aim would no longer be to compare America and Europe in order to show continuities and discontinuities in the political problems of democratic governments, constitutions and extended suffrage. Instead, Paine would aim to explain convergences and divergences between the two by pointing out the conceptual changes that commercial society and civilization were undergoing in the Atlantic world. As we will see, investigating the societal as a means by which to understand the political allowed Paine to bridge the theoretical and historical divide between America and Europe and to outline an innovative vision of the Atlantic world as one in transition along lines that were simultaneously both political and social.

The Social Foundation of the Political

  • 14  Fred Anderson, Crucible of War. The Seven Years’ War and the Fate of Empire in British America, 17 (...)

11Before reading Agrarian Justice, we must briefly reconsider Paine's Doctrine of Independence from the standpoint of the societal.The radical innovations of Common Sense are represented less by the Doctrine of Independence than by the conjectural history of society, namely the hypothetical history through which Paine inscribed the development of society and the expansion of commerce into a theoretical framework that legitimated the democratic foundation of the American State, namely the continental union based on free and equal representation. After the Seven Years’ War, the British government undertook an extensive reform of its imperial trade legislation and revenue collection in order to consolidate its political and economic supremacy in the Atlantic world. Through a combination of regulatory and fiscal measures, the government attempted to finance imperial costs and refund public debt by taxing colonies while securing markets there for British goods. However, eighteenth-century commercial expansion had produced relatively broad-based North American economies. Colonies developed internal agricultural markets, manufactures and credit networks that the British mercantile and political elites saw as potential competition for their markets and national grandeur. Moreover, the colonies traded with extra-imperial European markets. This uncontrolled commercial expansion turned the colonies into de facto autonomous societies within the British Empire. While colonies did not have political sovereignty, they were capable of supporting the political ambitions of their peoples14. Paine understood and theorized this historical process by arguing that “the present state of American affairs” and “the present ability of America” were such that colonies would ultimately aspire to independence and political sovereignty. Thus, Paine began Common Sense by turning the political upside down, and focusing on the societal:

  • 15  Thomas Paine, « Common Sense » in The Complete Writings, vol. 2, p. 4.

“Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices.”15

  • 16  Paine’s thoughts on the societal were influenced by Newtonian science. In his English youth, he at (...)
  • 17  Thomas Paine, « Common Sense », p. 4-6 and 17.

12This strong criticism of eighteenth-century political histories and literatures, which had generally not considered society except as a side issue, introduced Paine’s conjectural history of society. Individual needs soon obliged man to seek assistance and relief from others, who in their turn required the same. As the population grew, common survival in the midst of wilderness imposed cooperation and commerce. Thus necessity, like the Newtonian “gravitating power”16, produced the common cause of society, and the reciprocal fulfillment of individual wants rendered the obligations of law and government unnecessary. However, the people’s remissness in their duties and attachments to each other pointed out the need to establish some form of government. At the beginning, people assembled in the first parliament where every man had a seat by natural right. Subsequently, as a consequence of increasing trade and the growing complexity of the society, it became necessary for people to elect their representatives. This social sequence of political development moves from the pure presence of the unruled multitude through an early form of direct democracy, toward a representative government instituted by the people. This is what Paine sees as taking place in the Atlantic world. The previously subordinate colonies formed an autonomous society by joining together the affections of their peoples, and encouraging cultural and economic intercourses between them. Affections and intercourses shaped the common move toward independence. This was the “seed-time” of the democratic revolution: “by referring the matter from arguments to arms, a new era for politics is struck – a new method of thinking has arisen”17.

  • 18  Paine criticallu quoted Ferguson in his The Crisis, n°6, February 7, 1778. He mentioned Priestley (...)

13This conjectural history of society was not new. In the second half of the eighteenth century, by studying British Atlantic commercial expansion, Scottish Enlightenment thinkers had worked out similar histories of society. In An Essay on the History of Civil Society (1767), Adam Ferguson presented his progressivist vision of the historical development of society through commerce, fine arts and politics. In An Inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations (1776), Adam Smith described commercial society as the historical result of the need for material self-preservation that required the reciprocity and cooperation of men. In their opinion, as well as in that of Paine, the human propensity to be in society rested on the necessity for individual survival, and therefore society was natural only in an indirect, acquired sense: society was produced by individual wants. What distinguished Paine from Ferguson and Smith was the revolutionary meaning of his social vocabulary. Whereas the Scottish Enlightenment theorizations of society were functional analyses of British economic and imperial policies, Paine forced the innovation of societal theorization to its logical consequence. He translated into political terms the other important conceptualization of society that the dissenting literatures of Richard Price and Joseph Priestley had advanced: because society was a great instrument of progress toward human perfection, commercial society could claim a democratic revolution on both shores of the Atlantic. As Paine argued in the Letter to the Abbé Raynal (1782), the civilization of commerce would determine the material conditions for a reply to the American Revolution in Europe18.

14In America, Paine celebrated society as the constituent centre of political agency. The revolutionary vocabulary of the societal was not simply the fortuitous anticipation of notions that would become relevant for nineteenth-century sociologies. Rather, the theorization of commercial society and civilization renewed contemporary political language and showed that a democratic revolution was necessary to bring into being the conceptual architecture of the modern nation-state. Because of the dislocation of sovereignty from the king toward the people and the consequent claim to free and equal representation, the democratic foundation of the nation-state derived all its legitimacy from society. This emerged clearly in the second part of Rights of Man,where Paine discussed the interrelation between a democratic revolution and a commercial society. Consistent with what he wrote in Common Sense, Paine argued here that

  • 19  Thomas Paine, « Rights of Man. Part Second », p. 357. For the definition of society as the constit (...)

“Society existed prior to government, and would exist if the formality of government was abolished. The mutual dependence and reciprocal interest which man has upon man […] create that great chain of connection which holds it together”19.

  • 20  Thomas Paine, « Rights of Man. Part Second », p. 355-357.

15Paine aimed to delegitimize the unwritten British constitution and unrepresentative Parliament and to justify a democratic revolution as “the order of the day.” His theoretical and historical line of reasoning proceeded as follows: because the wants of men were greater than their individual powers, men could supply them only by the reciprocal aid of each other. The increasing diversity of wants and “the diversity of talents in different men for reciprocally accommodating the wants of each other” produced social affections that were essential to their happiness. Those wants, “acting upon every individual, impel the whole of them into society, as naturally as gravitation acts to a center”20.

16This gravitational law of society was the law of commerce, namely the natural law of economic reciprocity that secured the safety and prosperity of individuals. Paine took up the theoretical innovation that Smith had introduced in the Wealth of Nations: because the division of labor increased both the productivity of workers and the quantity of goods available, commerce was always a positive-sum game. But, unlike the Scottish philosopher, Paine described the human propensity for society in the political language of the democratic revolution. Whereas Smith aimed at abolishing British mercantilist policies while preserving the formal government, Paine wanted the dissolution of the government. In his opinion, as the despotic government was abolished, society would begin to act, a general association would be formed and common interest would produce common security. Paine could therefore claim the election of a national convention as the prerequisite for writing the constitution and instituting representative democracy:

  • 21  Thomas Paine, « Rights of Man. Part Second », p. 358, 367, and 371. See Donald Winch, Adam Smith’s (...)

“The representative system takes society and civilization for its basis […] retaining, then, democracy as the ground, and rejecting the corrupt systems of monarchy and aristocracy, the representative system naturally presents itself; remedying at once the defects of the simple democracy as to form, and the incapacity of the other two with respect to knowledge”21.

  • 22  Thomas Paine, « Dissertation Upon the First Principles of Government » and « The Constitution of 1 (...)

17Society, civilization and commerce forged the essential social vocabulary for understanding politics and legitimating the democratic form of the modern nation-state. As commerce produced economic benefits and transformed personal interest into common interest, representative democracy would begin to express the general will of the nation by healing any potential disagreements between factions. Society made democracy possible because commerce constituted an horizontal bond between individuals that strengthened the vertical institution of representation. Because the abolition of property as a qualification to vote agreed with the statement of property as a natural right, there was no contradiction between the invisible hand of the market and universal suffrage: representative democracy was the proper political form of a commercial society. Paine could therefore explicitly argue for universal suffrage. But the degeneration of the French democratic revolution into the Terror would change his way of thinking about civilization and commercial society and, consequently, his understanding of the Atlantic world22.

The Convulsions of the Society

18The failure to call a national convention in Britain and the missed opportunities of the democratic revolution in France forced Paine to question the interrelation between commercial society and representative democracy that he had presumed. Looking at the European social context of massive poverty and starvation, he could not have the same positive vision of commercial society’s potential. The social harmony of personal interests had been broken and commerce did not produce economic benefit for all; consequently, civilization was marked by strong contradictions:

  • 23  Thomas Paine, « Agrarian Justice » in The Complete Writings, vol. 1, p. 610

“On one side, the spectator is dazzled by splendid appearance; on the other, he is shocked by extremes of wretchedness […] civilization, therefore, had operated two ways: to make one part of society more affluent, and the other more wretched”23.

  • 24  Thomas Paine, « Prospects on the Rubicon or an Investigation into the Causes and Consequences of t (...)
  • 25  Thomas Paine, « Agrarian Justice », p. 612 and 620. See Gregory Clayes, « Paine’s Agrarian Justice(...)

19In the second part of Rights of Man and in other, minor writings24, Paine argued that poverty and misery were caused by excessive indirect taxation, by which the European monarchical states had funded their eighteenth-century commercial wars. In Agrarian Justice, which borrowed heavily from the wide range of existing English dissident literature, he moved his attention from politics and policies to commercial society and the economic operation of property and labor. He argued that the European process of land expropriation and the resulting concentration of property had created a “species of poverty and wretchedness that did not exist before,” namely the increasing growth of property-less people, who were forced to sell their labour for wages. The introduction of the system of landed property had negatively marked the origin and development of commercial society. Because “the accumulation of personal property” was “in many instances the effect of paying too little for the labour that produced it,” accumulation should be considered “the effect of society25.

20Paine therefore changed his previous conceptualization of commercial society. Such society was not acting as the voluntarily entered-into general association that turned personal interest into common interest. It was just the opposite: the process of accumulation was turning society into the unintended guardian of the property of a small proportion of its people, therefore acting outside the general will of “the great mass of the poor in all countries” that was becoming “an hereditary race.” Moreover, Paine denounced the increasing disparity between the demands of labour that weighed heavily upon the many and the possession of property that was the privilege of the few. He questioned his former belief that commerce was always a positive-sum game. Finally, Paine revised the political sense of the concept of sympathy, through which Smith had explained how men approved their passions and implemented social affections and, consequently, agreement and order. Instead, Paine said, commercial society was marked by antipathies:  

  • 26  Thomas Paine, « Agrarian Justice », p. 621.

“When wealth and splendor, instead of fascinating the multitude, excite emotions of disgust; when, instead of drawing forth admiration, it is beheld as an insult upon wretchedness […] the case of property becomes critical”26.

  • 27  Ibid., p. 620-621.

21As Paine’s conceptualization of society, civilization and commerce changed, his notions of the interrelation between commercial society and representative also came into question. Antipathies explained not only the critical state of property, namely the potential disorder of society, but because emotions of disgust had determined conspiracies, insurrections and political despotisms against the general will of the nation, antipathies also explained the failure of attempts at democratic revolution in Europe. Antipathies had undermined the autonomous foundation of commercial society and consequently, the chance of peacefully transitioning from a despotic government toward a representative government. No common interest had immediately produced common security; no lasting general association had come into being. In other words, social antipathies had made representative democracy impossible. It was the consciousness of this, and the apprehension that such antipathies would produce convulsions against property, that made “the possessors of property dread every idea of a revolution”27.

  • 28  Daniel T. Rodgers, « Exceptionalism » in Anthony Molho and Gordon S. Wood (eds.), Imagined Histori (...)

22We must be careful here not to solve the problematic relationship between America and Europe by confirming the “exceptionalism” of the American nation, which has long been represented as free of social conflict since its revolutionary beginning. The consensus historiography of the 1950's did not vindicate Paine's interpretation of the two revolutions, and Hannah Arendt's theorization of the success of the American Revolution and the failure of the French one did not uphold his conclusions28. However, Paine's historical and theoretical reflection upon civilization and commercial society asked another question, one that concerned not only France and Europe but also America: how would it be possible, over time, to found and stabilize free and independent nation-states when the political prospect of democracy produced expectations of social emancipation? In other words, the problematic relationship between America and Europe during the revolutionary age bequeathed a dominant question to the whole Atlantic world: how would it be possible to reconcile commercial society and representative democracy?

23As Paine faced this question, his reasoning became doubtful and allusive. On the one hand, his thought was steeped in realism. The critical situation of property in Europe showed that social acceptance of the economic laws of commerce was uncertain and unstable. In order to remove antipathies from commercial society and make property and accumulation acceptable, he proposed the creation of a “national fund, out of which there shall be paid to every person, when arrived at the age of twenty-one years,” a sum of money “as a compensation in part” for the expropriation of livelihood that previous generations had suffered. Paine recognized that “to remove the danger, it is necessary to remove the antipathies, and this can only be done by making property productive of a national blessing, extending to every individual.” However, on the other, his political prose became visionary and idealist. Because waged labor made achieving equality impossible, Paine wrote that:

  • 29  Thomas Paine, « Agrarian Justice », p. 612-613 and 621-622.

“A revolution in the state of civilization is the necessary companion of revolutions in the system of government […] it is neither the Rhine, the Channel, nor the ocean that can arrest its progress: it will march on the horizon of the world, and it will conquer29.

24Living during a time of political transition in the Atlantic world, Paine understood that what united both shores in the age of the democratic revolutions was not only the vocabulary of the societal, which renewed the conceptual architecture of the political, but also the changing meaning of commercial society. In a variety of ways and with different strengths and intensities, in both America and Europe commercial society was continually moved by a trend toward accumulation that was to be legitimated in the national framework of the modern state. Thus, the free and independent nation-states needed specific fiscal and economic policies for removing social antipathies and their ensuing convulsions, thereby making commercial society and representative democracy compatible.

The Political and Social Transition of the Atlantic World

  • 30  Alison Games, « Atlantic History. Definitions, Challenges, and Opportunities », American Historica (...)
  • 31  Bernard Bailyn, « The Idea of Atlantic History » Itinerario, 1996 (vol. 20), p. 19-44; Jacques God (...)
  • 32  Andreas Hess, « ‘The Social’ and ‘the Political’. A Comparison of the Writings of Judith N. Shklar (...)

25This biographical and intellectual journey through the life and works of Thomas Paine clearly explains why this political figure cannot be omitted when studying the Atlantic world. His political thought offers the possibility of reconsidering several contrasting conceptions of Atlantic history and multi-coloured Atlantic studies30. From its beginnings, Atlantic history has been first and foremost a political history. The first wave of debate on the idea of the Atlantic was sparked after the Second World War, in order to contest the diverging interpretations that either considered the Revolution of 1776 as the proof of America as an exception or saw it as less important than 1789, the symbolic date of the beginning of enlightened France’s supposed cultural superiority. The history of the Atlantic was based on the idea that the modern United States and France were determined by their almost simultaneous democratic revolutions. This interpretation highlighted the continuity between politics on the two shores of the ocean, and challenged critical concentration on the specificities of national histories with the much larger process of Atlantic or Western civilization”31. However, alternative interpretations have tamed the American Revolution and radicalised the French one. The perceived discontinuity between the two revolutions has derived from “thinking about the political as opposed to the social, and identifying the political with the American experience and the social with the French Revolution”32. Because America was supposedly free from social inequality, Americans could conquer political freedom, avoid terror and write a constitution that remains stable to the present day: thus, once again, this view sees America as an exception.

  • 33  William O’Reilly, « Genealogies of Atlantic History », Atlantic Studies, 2004 (vol. 1), n°1, p. 66 (...)
  • 34  William Q. Boelhower, « The Rise of the New Atlantic Studies Matrix », American Literary History, (...)
  • 35  Paul G. E. Clemens, « The Consumer Culture of the Middle Atlantic, 1760-1820 », The William & Mary (...)

26The opposition between the political and the social explains not only these different interpretations of the two revolutions, but also the diverse genealogies of Atlantic history and related studies33. Scholars who have examined the influences and analogies between events on both shores of the ocean have focused largely on the political, by analyzing the translation of the American States' constitutions into French and the transmission of political ideas from England to America, and from America to France. These studies have produced a rich vein of critical controversy over the diverging or converging political histories of these nation-states, but the social and cultural dimensions of the Atlantic have been not been much considered. In the 1970s and 1980s, the rising paradigm of the new social history moved scholars' attention toward the experiences of groups such as the working class, indigenous peoples and slaves, forging the background for our contemporary Black and Red Atlantic. These ‘histories from below’ and the work of post-colonial critics have successfully shown that the emergence in Europe and America of the modern capitalist world-system was made possible by the processes of colonization and migration, and the exploitation of free and un-free labor34. However, these studies, rather than complementing existing political history, have instead tended to eclipse the political aspects of the Atlantic world. The case is the same for recent economic histories and histories of material culture, which have moved attention toward the consumer-commercial revolution that rose out of inter-imperial economic and cultural relations35.

  • 36  Allan Potofsky, « The One and the Many »; Matteo Battistini, « L’epoca di Paine. Società e politic (...)

27Atlantic studies have therefore devalued the explanatory use of the political, and have limited Atlantic history to the end of the eighteenth century, when the nation-states developed in Europe and America. Through Paine, we can argue instead that Atlantic history cannot be forced to conform strictly to either side of the political-social opposition. Rather, the political and the societal are both conceptual camera lenses through which we can capture the Atlantic world36. The multi-faceted political and social, national and universal dimensions of Paine's political thought point to an innovative vision of the Atlantic world. This world was not reducible to separate, distinct, hermetically-sealed national and imperial entities, nor to the inter-imperial rise of commercial society. The Atlantic was not a self-contained world where the supposed natural law of demand and supply and the civilization of commerce triumphed, or where the material cultures of sailors, slaves and rebels were undermined by the nineteenth-century formation of nation-states and nationalisms. Instead, Paine's Atlantic is a Euro-American world in transition along lines that were simultaneously political and social.

  • 37  Aaron S. Fogleman, « The Transformation of the Atlantic World, 1776-1867 », Atlantic Studies, 2009 (...)

28His living in the transitional period between the old and new worlds articulates the interrelation between democratic revolution and commercial society. Between the end of eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth century, crucial changes had begun to undermine the previous Atlantic world and to create a new one. The American Revolution began the historical course that resulted in the Caribbean and South American independence movements37. As a consequence, the European invention of America as a vacant world available for imperial conquests ceased to be viable. The nation-state became the common political form on both shores of the ocean. Moreover, since the political language of equal rights, representative government and democracy circulated across the ocean, the conceptual architecture for thinking about and legitimating the modern nation-state had the same revolutionary origin both in America and Europe. Finally, utilizing Paine’s conceptualization of commercial society, which did not eclipse the political, and his use of the vocabulary of the societal to forge a new conceptual framework for understanding the nation-states and issuing their policies, it can be argued that what moved the Atlantic world into the nineteenth century was the peculiar historical relation between commercial expansion and democratization.

  • 38  Eliga H. Gould and Peter S. Onuf (eds.), Empire and Nation. The American Revolution in the Atlanti (...)

29What had defined the earlier Atlantic world had not been the civilized manner of commerce and the invisible hand of the market, but rather than the roughness of poverty, servitude and labor and the visible hand of Imperial mercantilist policies of taxation and war. The national and international expansion of commerce was strictly linked to the escalating demands that the eighteenth-century European wars made on civil administration and public finances, the sinews of the modern state. The Atlantic world was therefore one in which separate fiscal and military entities competed for the domination of the American colonies and the international market. However, the democratic revolutions changed these structures, and the political thinking behind them, in the Atlantic38.

  • 39  Matteo Battistini, « ‘Let the Trade Be as Free as Air’. The ‘Liberal’ American Revolution and the (...)

30From the American point of view, the Atlantic world moved toward civilization and commercial society. The American Revolution legitimated not only the foundation of the free states where Europeans had begun the colonies, but also the making of free trade-based national markets that competed with European mercantilism and challenged British political and economic supremacy. This explained why the early American State needed to fund public debt, institute a national bank and formalize the Congressional power of taxation. This early statehood turned the free states of America into a commercial nation-state which could then compete politically and commercially with other European commercial nation-states in the Atlantic world: America joined Europe39.

31From the European point of view, oceanic circulation of the political language of equal rights and democracy, along with the innovative vocabulary of the societal, changed the conceptual architecture of the political: society, civilization and commerce forged the essential social vocabulary for legitimating the democratic form of the modern nation-state. However, what essentially characterized the Atlantic world was the ambiguous interrelation between commercial society and representative democracy. On the one hand, commercial society and civilization claimed democratic revolutions while, on the other, social antipathies and convulsions determined tensions and frictions between commercial expansion and democratization: Europe joined America.

  • 40  Matteo Battistini, « Radical Revisions. Thomas Skidmore Reads Thomas Paine in 1829 New York », Com (...)

32Despite different national stories, and continuities and discontinuities between America and Europe, the age of democratic revolutions was the decisive moment for the definition of the social and political coordinates that thereafter structured the Atlantic world. Commercial expansion and democratization would constitute the most powerful agents in the building of the nineteenth-century nation-state that took place on both shores of the ocean. The early nineteenth-century English and American working classes' movements would show, as this reading of Paine has done, that the nation-states could renew their political legitimation only by answering to the popular demands of liberty, equality and prosperity that would rise from their societies. In other words, the national and international policies of the nineteenth century would rest upon the interrelation between commercial expansion and democratization in the Euro-American world of political competition and economic rivalry40.

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Notes

1 Christopher Wyvill, The Correspondence of Christopher Wyvill with the Right Honorable William Pitt, 2nd ed., Newcastle: S. Hodgson, 1796, p. 72.

2  Thomas Paine, « African Slavery in America », « Reflections on the Life and Death of Lord Clive » and « A Dialogue Between General Wolfe and General Gage in a Wood Near Boston » in Philip S. Foner (ed.), The Complete Writings, vol. 2, New York: The Citadel Press, 1945, p. 15-19, 22-28 and 47-49. John Keane, Tom Paine. A Political Life, 1st ed., London: Bloomsbury, 1995; Edward Larkin, « Inventing an American Public: Thomas Paine, the Pennsylvania Magazine and American Revolutionary Discourse », Early American Literature, 1998, n°33, p. 250-276. John Brewer, The Sinews of Power: War, Money, and the English State, 1688-1783, 1st ed., London: Routledge, 1994. Peter J. Marshall, The Making and Unmaking of Empires. Britain, India, and America, c.1750-1783, 1st ed., Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.

3  Thomas Paine, « The Magazine in America » in Philip S. Foner (ed.), The Complete Writings, vol. 2, p. 1110.

4  It has long been an Anglo-Americain historical thesis that Great Britain and the United States were nations with weak states. But recent British and American historiographies, finally, have demonstrated that both Britain and the US were successful in state-building. This is the reason why I use ‘state’ instead of ‘nation’. John Brewer, op. cit.; Max Edling, A Revolution in Favor of Government: Origins of the U.S. Constitution and the Making of the American State, 1st ed., Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003. For the European system of states, see Immanuel Wallerstein, The Modern World System, vol. 2, 1st ed., New York: Academic Press, 1980; Tiziano Bonazzi, « Europa, Zeus e Minosse, ovvero il labirinto dei rapporti euro-americani », Ricerche di Storia Politica, 2004, n°7, p ; 3-24.

5  The notions of civilization and commercial society shaped the eighteenth-century British Atlantic world, particularly as the Scottish Enlightenment understood it. Civilization defined the historical process that moved human beings from their natural state or barbarity toward the refinement of arts and manners through commerce. The term ‘commercial society’ identified the particularly advanced stage of social development current at this time when society seemed to be based on broad economic exchanges. From this point of view, I use ‘societal’ instead of ‘social’, because the former applies to historically grounded forms of social relationship such as property and labor, whereas the latter refers to general human intercourses. Paine spoke of civilization and commercial society in « Letter to the abbé Raynal » (1782) and criticized property and labor relations in Agrarian Justice (1796). See the entries ‘civilization’, ‘society’ and ‘commerce’ in the Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford University Press, 1971. For the term societal, see Michael Mann, A History of Social Power, vol. 1: A History of Power from the Beginning to A.D. 1760, 1st ed., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986. For the Scottish Enlightenment, see Alexander Broadie (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to the Scottish Enlightenment, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

6  Thomas Paine, « Common Sense » in The Complete Writings, vol. 2, p. 9.

7  Thomas Paine, « Four Letters on Interesting Subjects » in Common Sense and Other Writings, 1st ed., New York: Modern Library, 2003, p. 72-80.

8  Thomas Paine, « A Serious Address to the People of Pennsylvania » in The Complete Writings, vol. 2, p. 284.

9  Spartanus, « The Interest of America. Letter I », The New York Gazette, June 7, 1776. John G. A. Pocock and Terence Ball (eds.), Conceptual Change and the Constitution, 1st ed., Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1998. Tiziano Bonazzi, « Un costituzionalismo rivoluzionario. Il Demos Basileus a la nascita degli Stati Uniti », Filosofia Politica, 1991, n°2, p. 283-302.

10  Thomas Paine, « Rights of Man. Part Second » in The Complete Writings, vol. 1, p. 371. From reading his pamphlet Dissertations of Government; The Affairs of the Bank; And Paper Money (1786), we know that Paine was involved in the 1780’s American debate avout the tyranny of majority and the excess of democracy. He also probably knew the Federalist papers of James Madison who supported the ratification of the Constitution of 1787 by criticizing ‘pure democracy’ and arguing for the ‘scheme of representation’. Like Madison, Paine argued that « the case is not that a republic cannot be extensive, but it cannot be extensive on the simple democratical form ». Thomas Paine, « Rights of Man. Part Second », p. 370; James Madison, « The Federalist n°10 » in Terence Ball (ed.), The Federalist with Letters of ‘Brutus’, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006, p. 43-46. Woody Holton, « Did Democracy Cause the Recession that Led to the Constitution? », The Journal of American History, 2005 (vol. 92), n°2, p. 442-469. The first and second parts of Rights of Man contain contradictory ideologies. Part one (1791) served as an apology for the marquis de Lafayette and ignored the burgeoning democratic movement in Paris. Part two (1792) rejected Lafayette’s political principles in favor of a more radical conception of democracy. Thus Paine’s ideas fundamentally changed during the French Revolution. Gary Kates, « From Liberalism to Radicalism: Tom Paine’s Rights of Man », Journal of the History of Ideas, 1989 (vol. 50), n°4, p. 569-587.

11  The democratic revolution paradigm of Robert Palmer vindicated Paine’s approach. Robert Palmer, The Age of Democratic Revolution. A Political History of Europe and America, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1959-1964. For more information about Paine and the first revolutionary history of America and France, based on an Atlantic perspective, see Allan Potofsky, « The One and the Many: The Two Revolutions Question and the ‘Consumer-Commercial’ Atlantic, 1789 to the Present » in Manuela Albertone and Antonio De Francesco (eds.), Rethinking the Atlantic World. Europe and America in the Age of Democratic Revolutions, 1st ed., New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009, p. 17-45.

12  Thomas Paine, « Letter to Georges Jacques Danton » in The Complete Writings, vol. 2, p. 1335-1336. Gregory Clayes, Thomas Paine: Social and Political Thought, 1st ed., Boston: Unwin Hyman, 1989.

13  Corinna Wagner, « Loyalist Propaganda and Life of Tom Paine: ‘Hypocritical Monster’ », Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies, 2009, n°1, p. 97-115. Lucien Baume, Le Discours jacobin et la démocratie, 1st ed., Paris: Fayard, 1989. See also Matteo Battistini, « The Transatlantic Republican. Thomas Paine e la democrazia nel mondo atlantico », Contemporanea, 2009 (vol. 12), n°4, p. 625-650.

14  Fred Anderson, Crucible of War. The Seven Years’ War and the Fate of Empire in British America, 1754-1766, 1st ed., London: Faber & Faber, 2000; Peter J. Marshall, « The Thirteen Colonies in the Seven Years’ War. The View from London » in Julie Flavell and Stephen Conway (eds.), Britain and America Go to War: The Impact of War and Warfare in Anglo-America, 1754-1815, 1st ed., Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2004; T. H. Breen, « An Empire of Goods. The Anglicization of Colonial America, 1690-1776 », The Journal of British Studies, 1986 (vol. 25), n°4, p. 467-499, and « ‘Baubles of Britain’: The American and Consumer Revolutions of the Eighteenth Century », Past & Present, 1988, n°119, p. 73-104.

15  Thomas Paine, « Common Sense » in The Complete Writings, vol. 2, p. 4.

16  Paine’s thoughts on the societal were influenced by Newtonian science. In his English youth, he attended the Newtonian lectures of Benjamin Martin and James Ferguson. Thomas Paine, « The Age of Reason » in The Complete Writings, vol. 1, p. 494-496. Eric Foner, Tom Paine and Revolutionary America, 1st ed., New York, Oxford University Press, 1976, p. 92-94.

17  Thomas Paine, « Common Sense », p. 4-6 and 17.

18  Paine criticallu quoted Ferguson in his The Crisis, n°6, February 7, 1778. He mentioned Priestley in his « Letter to the Honorable Benjamin Franklin », March 4, 1775, and Price in The Crisis, n°6, and Rights of Man. Repeatedly quoted Smith in Rights of Man and The Decline and Fall of the English System of Finance (1796). Joseph Priestley, An Essay on the First Principles of Government (1768); Richard Price, Observations on the Nature of Civil Liberty (1776). See Isaak Kramnick, Republicanism and Bourgeois Radicalism. Political Ideology in Late Eighteenth Century England and America, 1st ed., New York: Cornell University Press, 1990. For the Scottish Enlightenment’s vision of international economic rivalry, see Istvan Hont, Jealousy of Trade: International Competition and the Nation-State in Historical Perspective, 1st ed., London: Belknap Press of Harvard University, 2005. For the rise of society as the center of the political agency, see Sheldon S. Wolin, Politics and Vision. Continuity and Innovation in Western Political Thought, 1st ed., Boston: Little, Brown & C°, 1960.

19  Thomas Paine, « Rights of Man. Part Second », p. 357. For the definition of society as the constituent center of political agency, see Maurizio Ricciardi, Revolución: léxico de política, 1st ed., Buenos Aires: Nueva Visión, 2003, and Pienrangelo Schiera, Lo Stato Moderno: origini e degenerazioni, 1st ed., Bologna: Clueb, 2005.

20  Thomas Paine, « Rights of Man. Part Second », p. 355-357.

21  Thomas Paine, « Rights of Man. Part Second », p. 358, 367, and 371. See Donald Winch, Adam Smith’s Politics: An Essay in Historiographic Revision, 1st ed., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978; Knud Haakonssen, The Science of a Legislator: The Natural Jurisprudence of David Hume and Adam Smith, 1st ed., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981; Adelino Zanini, Adam Smith: economia, morale, diritto, 1st ed., Milan: Bruno Mondadori, 1997.

22  Thomas Paine, « Dissertation Upon the First Principles of Government » and « The Constitution of 1795. Speech in the French National Convention », July 7, 1795, in The Complete Writings, vol. 2, p. 578-588 and 589-590. Pierre Rosanvallon spoke of the liberal illusion to conciliate market and democracy in Le Capitalisme utopique : histoire de l’idée de marché, 1st ed., Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 1999.

23  Thomas Paine, « Agrarian Justice » in The Complete Writings, vol. 1, p. 610

24  Thomas Paine, « Prospects on the Rubicon or an Investigation into the Causes and Consequences of the Politics to be Agitated at the Next Meeting of Parliament » (1787) and « Letter Addressed to the Addressers of the Late Proclamation » (1792) in The Complete Writings, vol. 2, p. 469-511 and 621-650.

25  Thomas Paine, « Agrarian Justice », p. 612 and 620. See Gregory Clayes, « Paine’s Agrarian Justice and the Secularization of Natural Jurisprudence », Bulletin of the Scoiety of the Study of Labor History, vol. 52, n°3, p. 21-31, and « The Origins of the Rights of Labour: Republicanism, Commerce and the Construction of Modern Liberal Theory in Britain, 1796-1805 », The Journal of Modern History, 1994 (vol. 66), n°2, p. 249-290; Peter Linebaugh, « Introduction » in Thomas Paine, Rights of Man and Common Sense, London: Verso , 2009; John Marangos, « Thomas Paine (1737-1809) and Thomas Spence (1750-1814) on Land Ownership, Land Taxes and the Provision of Citizens’ Dividend », International Journal of Social Economics, 2008 (vol. 35), n°5, p. 313-325. Antonio De Francesco analyzes Agrarian Justice in the French context: « Au-delà de la Terreur : mouvements démocratiques et masses populaires dans la France du Directoire » in Jean-Clément Martin (ed.), La Révolution à l’œuvre. Perspectives actuelles dans l’histoire de la Révolution française, 1st ed., Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2005, p. 151-164.

26  Thomas Paine, « Agrarian Justice », p. 621.

27  Ibid., p. 620-621.

28  Daniel T. Rodgers, « Exceptionalism » in Anthony Molho and Gordon S. Wood (eds.), Imagined Histories: American Historians Interpret the Past, 1st ed., Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998, p. 21-40; Hannah Arendt, On Revolution, 1st ed., New York: Viking, 1961.

29  Thomas Paine, « Agrarian Justice », p. 612-613 and 621-622.

30  Alison Games, « Atlantic History. Definitions, Challenges, and Opportunities », American Historical Review, 2006 (vol. 111), n°3, p. 741-757; David Armitage, « The Varieties of Atlantic History » in Alison Games and Adam Rothman (eds.), Major Problems in Atlantic History, Boston: Wadsworth Cengage, 2008, p. 80-138. See Simon P. Newman, « Making Sense of Atlantic World Histories: A British Perspective », Nuevo Mundo mundos nuevos, September 2008, URL http://nuevomundo.revues.org/42413.

31  Bernard Bailyn, « The Idea of Atlantic History » Itinerario, 1996 (vol. 20), p. 19-44; Jacques Godechot, France and the Atlantic Revolution of the Eighteenth Century, 1770-1799, 1st ed., London: Macmillan, 1965; Robert R. Palmer, The Age of Democratic Revolution, op. cit.

32  Andreas Hess, « ‘The Social’ and ‘the Political’. A Comparison of the Writings of Judith N. Shklar and Hannah Arendt on America », Atlantic Studies, 2005 (vol. 2), n°2, p. 219-233.

33  William O’Reilly, « Genealogies of Atlantic History », Atlantic Studies, 2004 (vol. 1), n°1, p. 66-84.

34  William Q. Boelhower, « The Rise of the New Atlantic Studies Matrix », American Literary History, 2008 (vol. 20), n°1-2, p. 83-101; Paul Gilroy, The Black Atlantic. Modernity and Double Consciousness, 1st ed., London: Verso, 1993; David Armitage, « The Red Atlantic », Reviews in American History, 2001 (vol. 29), p. 479-586; Peter Linebaugh and Markus Rediker, The Many-Headed Hydra. Sailors, Slaves, Commoners and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic, 1st ed., Boston: Beacon Press, 2000; Immanuel Wallerstein, The Modern World System, op. cit. For a critical view on postcolonial studies, see Sandro Mezzadra, La condizione postcoloniale: storia e politica del presente globale, 1st ed., Verona: Ombre Corte, 2008.

35  Paul G. E. Clemens, « The Consumer Culture of the Middle Atlantic, 1760-1820 », The William & Mary Quarterly, 2005 (vol. 72), n°4, p. 577-624; David Hancock, « The British Atlantic World: Co-ordination, Complexity, and the Emergence of an Atlantic Market Economy, 1651-1815 », Itinerario, 1999 (vol. 23), n°2, p. 107-126.

36  Allan Potofsky, « The One and the Many »; Matteo Battistini, « L’epoca di Paine. Società e politica nella rivoluzione atlantica », Scienza & Politica, 2008, n°38, p. 111-124.

37  Aaron S. Fogleman, « The Transformation of the Atlantic World, 1776-1867 », Atlantic Studies, 2009 (vol. 6), n°1, p. 5-28; David Gabaccia, « A Long Atlantic in a Wider World », Atlantic Studies, 2004 (vol. 1) ; n°1, p. 1-27. For Caribbean and South American revolutions, see Cyril L. R. James, The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution, 1st ed., New York: Vintage Books, 1963; Paola Rudan, Por la senda del Occidente. Republicanismo y constitución en el pensamiento político de Simón Bolívar, 1st ed., Madrid: Biblioteca Nueva, 2007.

38  Eliga H. Gould and Peter S. Onuf (eds.), Empire and Nation. The American Revolution in the Atlantic World, 1st ed., Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005.

39  Matteo Battistini, « ‘Let the Trade Be as Free as Air’. The ‘Liberal’ American Revolution and the Early State-Building » in M. Camboni, A. Carosso, S. Di Loreto and M. Mariano (eds.), Translating America, 1st ed., Bern: Lang, 2011.

40  Matteo Battistini, « Radical Revisions. Thomas Skidmore Reads Thomas Paine in 1829 New York », Common-Place, 2009 (vol. 9), n°4, URL http://www.common-place.org/vol-09/no-04/forum/battistini.shtml.

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Matteo Battistini, « Living in Transition in the Atlantic World: Democratic Revolution and Commercial Society in the Political Writings of Thomas Paine », Nuevo Mundo Mundos Nuevos [En ligne], Colloques, mis en ligne le 27 juin 2012, consulté le 16 décembre 2018. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/nuevomundo/63485 ; DOI : 10.4000/nuevomundo.63485

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Matteo Battistini

Dipartimento di Politica Istituzioni Storia
Università di Bologna
m.battistini@unibo.it

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