"These are the times that try men's souls" Thomas Paine
Freedom, justice, equality, republicanism and the importance of reason were just some of the issues that Thomas Paine espoused over two hundred years ago, trying to bring radical ideas to as many people as possible.
His pamphlets and books, like Common Sense (1776), Rights of Man (1791-2) and Age of Reason (1794-5) became huge best sellers as they were sold cheaply, with his reward a prosecution and a Royal Proclamation condemning him.
Paine fired the fight for American independence from Britain while in the States, got stuck into the French revolution while in France, and was noted as a 'world class rabble rouser'. His obituary in the New York Times in 1809 typically stated that he "Did some good and much harm"...
Salford's Working Class Movement Library holds a vast collection of books and exhibits relating to Paine and even has a special Thomas Paine Room, so it's well fitting that this should be the venue for a celebration of the great man's work near the date of his birthday.
In the 1820s, radical groups in Manchester and elsewhere celebrated his birthday with dinners, songs, poems and toasts to "the immortal memory of Thomas Paine".
The Mary Quaile Club, which links working class history with contemporary political issues, and the Working Class Movement Library are kind of reviving this tradition, holding a happening featuring Paine's work on Saturday afternoon, 27th January.
One of the speakers is Trevor Griffiths, who wrote the famous play about Thomas Paine, These Are The Times, plus work for television, film and the theatre including Comedians, Reds and the series Bill Brand (1976) which starred Jack Shepherd as a left-wing Labour MP.
Other speakers are renowned local historian, Michael Herbert, who will talk about the celebrations of Thomas Paine's birthday, and Mandy Vere from Liverpool's radical bookshop News from Nowhere.
"Thomas Paine once wrote 'These are the times that try men's souls'" says Bernadette Hyland of the Mary Quaile Club "In 2018 we think his ideas about a Republican democracy are as relevant now as they were 200 years ago."
Celebrating Thomas Paine
Saturday 27th January 1pm free
Working Class Movement Library
51 The Crescent 51, M5 4WX
The event is free but advance booking is required by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more details on the Thomas Paine collection at the Working Class Movement Library – click here