M F Husain, Five Horses, 1970, oil on canvas, 32 x 48 in

Thomas Paine & the Roots of American Progressivism

Michael Crowder in Flatiron

Salon: An intimate class hosted in a member's living room.
Fri, Mar 27 at 7:30 p.m.   |   90 minutes   |   BYOB

Who exactly was Thomas Paine, and why is someone like Andrew Yang talking about him? Paine’s life and legacy have always hovered as a specter over the American political left, and this class explores how and why.

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Thomas Paine & the Roots of American Progressivism

March 27, 2020, 7:30 p.m.   |   in Flatiron

Who exactly was Thomas Paine, and why is someone like Andrew Yang talking about him? That isn’t just a rhetorical question for the sake of drawing in the audience. From the moment he reached revolutionary celebrity status in 1776 after the publication of Common Sense—the influential pamphlet that almost single-handedly inspired the American Declaration of Independence—Paine was simultaneously cast into the contradictory roles of hero and villain, political influencer and maligned hack, paragon of republican virtue and personally disgusting and politically dangerous to moderates and conservatives.

More than any other major figure of the American Revolution, Paine inspired both intense devotion and vociferous defamation, more than George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and the current reigning champion of Revolutionary Era fascination, Alexander Hamilton. Why? Because Paine dared to articulate a radical worldview rooted in what today would be considered progressive principles, as a harsh critic of hereditary privilege, slavery, and women’s subordination, an apostle of democratic political participation and more egalitarian societies. In other words, Paine was America’s first progressive.

This Olio examines Paine’s life and relevance to modern American politics at a critical moment, as the modern American progressive left expands its base and influence. Paine’s life and legacy have always hovered as a specter over the American political left, and this class explores how and why.

Teacher: Michael Crowder

Michael Crowder received his Ph.D. from The Graduate Center, CUNY, in 2019. He works as Public Historian and lecturer at the Institute for Thomas Paine Studies at Iona College, and is currently writing a new history of Thomas Paine, the American Revolution, and the origins of American progressivism.


Venue:

Hosted at a member's living room in Flatiron. Address will be sent upon RSVP.

What is Think Olio?


Think Olio is here to put the liberation back into the liberal arts.

Classically, the liberal arts, were the education considered essential for a free person to take an active part in civic life. To counter a humanities that has been institutionalized and dehumanized we infuse critical thinking, openness, playfulness, and compassion into our learning experience.

Read more about our mission, our story, and how we are doing this.

Scenius Membership

If Friday night lectures, museum field trips, and living room salons sound like your kind of thing, then you've found your people. We can't wait to welcome you to the Think Olio Scenius. More info


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Olio: A miscellaneous collection of art and literature.