To John Inskeep February 10, 1806
From the letter in the Aurora, Philadelphia, February 10, 1806.
To JOHN INSKEEP,
Mayor of the City of Philadelphia.
I saw in the Aurora of January the 30th a piece addressed to you and signed Isaac Hall. It contains a statement of your malevolent conduct in refusing to let him have Vine street wharf after he had bid fifty dollars more rent for it than another person had offered, and had been unanimously approved of by the commissioners appointed by law for that purpose. Among the reasons given by you for this refusal one was, that “Mr. Hall was one of Paine’s disciples.” If those whom you may chuse to call my disciples follow my example in doing good to mankind, they will pass the confines of this world with a happy mind, while the hope of the hypocrite shall perish and delusion sink into despair.
I do not know who Mr. Inskeep is, for I do not remember the name of Inskeep at Philadelphia in “the times that tried men’s souls. (1) He must be some mushroom of modern growth that has started up on the soil which the generous services of Thomas Paine contributed to bless with freedom; neither do I know what profession of religion he is of, nor do I care, for if he is a man malevolent and unjust, it signifies not to what class or sectary he may hypocritically belong.
As I set too much value on my time to waste it on a man of so little consequence as yourself, I will close this short address with a declaration that puts hypocrisy and malevolence to defiance. Here it is,
My motive and object in all my political works, beginning with Common Sense, the first work I ever published, have been to rescue man from tyranny and false systems and false principles of government, and enable him to be free, and establish government for himself, and I have borne my share of danger in Europe and in America in every attempt I have made for this purpose. And my motive and object in all my publications on religious subjects, beginning with the first part of the Age of Reason, have been to bring man to a right reason that God has given him; to impress on him the great principles of divine morality, justice, mercy, and a benevolent disposition to all men and to all creatures; and to excite in him a spirit of trust, confidence, and consolation in his creator, unshackled by the fable and fiction of books, by whatever invented name they may be called.
I am happy in the continual contemplation of what I have done, and I thank God that he gave me talents for the purpose and fortitude to do it. It will make the continual consolation of my departing hours whenever they finally arrive.
- “These are the times that try men’s souls.” Crisis No. 1 written while on the retreat with the army from fort Lee to the Delaware and published in Philadelphia in the dark days of 1776 December the 19th, six days before the taking of the Hessians at Trenton.