Manon Roland on Thomas Paine
Thomas Paine first arrived in France in 1787, and he moved between there and England until his arrest in December 1793 and release from prison some months later, upon which he moved back to America. In August 1792, Paine was granted honorary French citizenship, alongside a few foreign supporters of the revoluton. Paine already had two citizenship: English, from birth, and American, also honorary. Paine was connected to the Girondins, and during Roland’s ministry, he visited Jean-Marie and Manon at their Paris home. Manon reports on his character in her usual style:
I have already named the most notable of the people I entertained, but I must also mention Paine. He had been given French citizenship as one of the celebrated foreigners whom the nation felt proud to adopt, being noted for his writings which had played a large part in the American Revolution and might have helped to bring about a similar revolution in England. I cannot form an absolute judgement of him because he could speak no French though understood it and I was such in much the same position with English; so that although I could follow his conversation with others I could hardly engage him in one myself. But I did form the impression that, like so many authors, he was not worth so much as his writings.
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