Synopses & Reviews
Moncure Daniel Conway (1832 1907), the son of a Virginian plantation-owner, became a Unitarian minister, but his anti-slavery views made him controversial. He later became a freethinker, and following the outbreak of the Civil War, which deeply divided his own family, he left the United States for England in 1863. This two-volume biography of Thomas Paine (1737 1809) was published in 1892, and was followed by a four-volume edition of his works, which did much to inspire a reassessment of Paine's importance in the 'age of revolutions'. Conway clearly identified with Paine's radicalism as well as his activities on both sides of the Atlantic. Paine's political pamphlets underlay the American Declaration of Independence, and he was also a member of the French Convention, voting against the execution of Louis XVI. Outlawed in England and imprisoned in France, his religious views became unpopular in America, and he died in poverty.