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View Diary: "A Crisis Extraordinary": The 1775 Pamphlet That Conservative Historians Want to Erase From History (71 comments)

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  •  Not sure about your methodology here. (23+ / 0-)

    You may be right about your hypothesis, but your textology (not etymology) is a bit shaky.  

    One thing to be careful about is identifying common phrases that may not have been so idiosyncratic in the day.  For example, "blood and treasure" is a common formulation that goes back much earlier than Paine or Jefferson.  It's an extremely common expression pre-1775, including a few pointed uses by fellow Committee member Benjamin Franklin in his 1760 tract on Great Britain and its colonies.  (And, to tie it your last diary, quite a few uses of the phrase by Jonathan Swift [e.g.].)  

    Textology is an extremely difficult study, and I do appreciate what you're trying to do here.  Just be careful about the level of diligence required to make good connections: it's easy to be led astray.

    Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

    by pico on Sun May 12, 2013 at 12:13:11 PM PDT

    •  and franklin (15+ / 0-)

      was greatly influenced by paine. was his sponsor, when paine came to the colonies. franklin, paine and jefferson greatly infliuenced each other.

      The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

      by Laurence Lewis on Sun May 12, 2013 at 12:52:40 PM PDT

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    •  Advice from a KOS editor, about my first diary... (9+ / 0-)

      Minor edits for spelling and word correction were perfectly acceptable. I hope that this qualifies. Your constructive criticism "textology (not etymology) is a good one. "Etymology" was, indeed, incorrect. But I'm not sure that that "textology" is the best, most accurate substitute. Although this is not an accepted, established "science", I do see papers out there suggesting that there should be a science of phraseology. So, I've made those substitutions. Believe it, or not, "phraseological" is in the MW on-line dictionary. I think that the methodology that I am using, in my colonial document investigating, could be termed comparative synchronous phraseology. :-)

      Concerning the fact that similar or exact phrases have sometimes been used by earlier authors, you're absolutely right, and I do try to check for that. Then I try to find evidence that indicates which of the two, Paine or Jefferson, were more likely to be fans of that particular writer. With these two, it's tough, because with the exception of the slavery issue, they were very much on the same page. One of the better markers for Paine, is that he more freely referenced Scripture in his arguments. And he knew that Scripture, almost by heart.

      •  Oh, I'm not an editor: just offering friendly (9+ / 0-)


        The chronology here is also a bit more complicated:

        But, strangely, or, maybe not, beginning in 1894, what had been the second essay in the series, became the first essay in Conservative historical compilations, and the original first essay, drifted into the forgotten past.
        I don't think there was a sudden attempt in 1894 to erase Paine's contribution by conservatives (What do you mean by "conservative", by the way?)  In fact, there'd been a pretty fierce debate over the decade or two previous about the extent of Paine's authorship, and it was mostly an academic affair.  The most heated debate was over the identity of "Junius", and by 1880 this debate had grown to encompass "Casca" as well (see here, for starters.)   The biggest proponent of the Paine-as-Casca argument was William Henry Burr, and he was mostly ignored.  By 1894 the scholarly consensus was against the Casca hypothesis... It may very well have been for the ideological reasons you outline, but your timeline is a bit off.

        If you want a good roundup of how this debate played out, definitely check out 'Thomas Paine and the History of "Junius": A Forgotten "Cause Célèbre"' by Francesco Cordasco. It's already very old (1953) but it lays out all the major players in the Paine pseudonym debate and their arguments.

        Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

        by pico on Sun May 12, 2013 at 01:28:50 PM PDT

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        •  Very familiar with the Junius debate... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SoCaliana, Onomastic, walkshills

          but not that title. Searching the Kindle Store now. Thanx.

        •  I call "redux"! (0+ / 0-)

          Thomas Paine and the History of "Junius": A Forgotten "Cause Célèbre", by Francesco Cordasco, is a two page, weakly argued "Conservative" hit piece of Paine, published in a 1953 issue of The Journal of English and Germanic Philology.

          Cordasco's lame arguments can stand, right where they are, in historical obscurity.

          •  Oh, geez... (4+ / 0-)
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            Nova Land, hmi, Onomastic, walkshills

            Do you even know who Cordasco is?  "Conservative" is a weirdly ahistorical term to apply to him, especially in this context.  Of course Cordasco is polemicizing in favor of his preferred candidate for Junius (Col. Laughlin Macleane), but that doesn't make him "conservative", and it at least offers a timeline of this debate that your own diary is sorely lacking, and gets wrong on the details.

            Watch out for glass houses on the "lame arguments" and "historical obscurity" nonsense.

            Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

            by pico on Sun May 12, 2013 at 02:32:45 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Do you even know who Cordasco is? (0+ / 0-)

              Nope. And, from that two page article of his, that you posted earlier, I'm not surprised. Sorry, just my 2 cents.

              •  Again: glass houses. (6+ / 0-)

                You can't expect to do good scholarship if 1. you haven't done your homework, and 2. you have no interest in engaging with the perspectives that have shaped the debate.  You can't just use "conservative" as a pejorative to dismiss anyone whose perspective you don't like, especially when the label doesn't even make sense.

                Here's another: "Conservative historian Moncure Daniel Conway"... Do you realize how completely ridiculous and tone-deaf that sounds?  Do you know anything at all about Conway?  What in god's name do you mean by "conservative", applied to a radical abolitionist, woman's suffrage-supporting, Charles Darwin-befriending, freethinking humanist like Conway?  You've built your entire argument in this diary on a strawman of ridiculous proportions.

                I'm happy you've gotten a warm reception here, but most users on this website are not trained in philology and don't know how to assess your arguments, which range from interesting to weak to outright wrong.  They love Paine by reputation, they don't like how Barton and other contemporary conservatives have treated him, and this kind of diary is like catnip.  But only you can decide how to go from here: you can take some constructive criticism, or you can continue to be dismissive.

                In the end, it's not conservatives you have to worry about: it's people who know how to do textological analysis.  But if you're content being the David Barton of the pro-Paine argument (he can cherrypick through prose, too!), then you'll earn a much more damning label: amateur.

                Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

                by pico on Sun May 12, 2013 at 03:53:41 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  An "amateur"? Indeed, just like Paine. (1+ / 0-)
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                  What in god's name do you mean by "conservative", applied to a radical abolitionist, woman's suffrage-supporting, Charles Darwin-befriending, freethinking humanist like Conway?

                  - pico

                  Some "conservatives" are against slavery. Some "conservatives" want women to vote. Some "conservatives" believe in evolution. Conway was a religious "conservative". And, he was definitely not much of an intellect. Did you even read his moronic preface, and the reasoning that he used for eliminating Paine's letter to Gage essay? Anyone that thinks that that preface is sound reasoning would also, very likely, think that Rush Limbaugh is intelligent, just like Conway, and proudly call themselves a "Dittohead".
                  You've built your entire argument in this diary on a strawman of ridiculous proportions.

                  - pico

                  Thanks for explaining some of the virtuies that are antithetical to "Conservatism".
                  ...then you'll earn a much more damning label: amateur.

                  - pico

                  I am, indeed, a home schooled, "amateur" phraseology sleuth. Probably the best on the planet, as you will soon learn. ;-)

                  Note: You are correct about Conway not being a "Conservative". This calls for an addendum to the original diary. Thanks, pico.

                  •  I'll give you props for the addendum, (1+ / 0-)
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                    but you're still dead wrong about Conway's religious motivations.  It's really worth reading what Conway wrote about Paine and religion.  Conway was one of the most prominent freethinkers of his era - that is, he argued that religion, and especially organized religion, was a detriment to society, and the corrective was a personal, rational engagement with one's beliefs.  He wasn't an atheist*, but then again, neither was Paine (in fact, he criticized Christianity as atheism itself, a paradox he resolves by calling both "a religious denial of god".)  The reason Conway was drawn to Paine in the first place is that he saw a fellow "natural philosopher", which is how both authors described themselves.

                    * In the contemporary sense of the word.  Paine's religious beliefs are hard to suss out in part because atheism was a slur, and generally meant non-religious: so freethinkers and deists alike were held under the blanket of atheism by their critics.  Paine famously said, regarding The Age of Reason (written in part to argue against atheism in the wake of the French Revolution):

                    Religion has two principle enemies: fanaticism and infidelity, or that which is called atheism.  The first requires to be combatted with reason or morality, the other by natural philosophy.
                    This is exactly in line with Conway.   Conway has no religious objection whatsoever to Paine's writing, and in fact goes to great lengths to put Paine's religious writings on a pedestal.  If he wasn't convinced about the authorship of "A Crisis Extraordinary", he absolutely may be wrong on that point (scholarly consensus seems to agree with you that Paine was the author), but I don't see any evidence that it was for ideological reasons.

                    By the way: far be it for me to throw you a bone, but you may find some interesting information in Robert E. McGlone's article "Deciphering Memory: John Adams and the Authorship of the Declaration of Independence."  Most of it is on theory of memory, but McGlone outlines Adams' conflicting accounts of the authorship against the historical record, and in an early footnote points out that Jefferson's alleged notes about writing the original draft were written long after the fact.  Naturally Adams had very little nice to say about Paine, but it's his changing opinions about Jefferson and authorship of the Declaration that might interest you.

                    Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

                    by pico on Mon May 13, 2013 at 09:27:13 AM PDT

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      •  (just as a quick sidenote: (2+ / 0-)
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        Nova Land, flitedocnm

        technically what you're doing is philology, but the term's become passé for some reason, so we tend to use textology - or textological arguments - to talk about this kind of comparison of language in written texts.)

        Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

        by pico on Sun May 12, 2013 at 01:33:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  This diary's author also should be more cautious (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pico, journeyman, Onomastic, flitedocnm

      in his conclusions.  He seems to have done a bit of fine work here, but mars it in the end by claiming it 'proves' something.  No, it strongly supports the argument that..., or it lends credence to the view that..., or another way of saying he believes it to be a strong argument.

      This aren't actually academic 'weasel words'.  They portray the level of evidence that he has marshaled in support of his hypothesis.  'Proof' might be a letter in Jefferson's hand (and thoroughly vetted by the handwriting experts) thanking Paine for his draft, and suggesting edits.

      Real plastic here; none of that new synthetic stuff made from chicken feathers. By the morning of 9/12/2001 the people of NYC had won the War on Terror.

      by triplepoint on Sun May 12, 2013 at 05:45:42 PM PDT

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