Conversations in Politics
Paine and His Contemporaries on Democracy,
Religion, and the Rights of Man
by Elizabeth Braverman
The 1790s began with one of the most jarring and influential political
events in modern history: the
French Revolution. When the revolutionaries took the Bastille in
1789, radical and conservative thinkers in England and America reacted in writing, speech, and action. What was
especially unique about these new political conversations was the
intimacy of nearly all its members. The most important political and conservative thinkers of the time, if they were not close friends, at least traveled in the same circles. This
intimacy resulted in a coherent conversation, one in which nearly every new publication or speech was a response or reference to a previous one.
The following pages contain summaries of some of the most influential political books, pamphlets, letters, and speeches published in 1790s England and America. In
addition to providing these individual summaries, the pages also try to capture the
overall structure of the debates and characters involved.
Works of Thomas Paine
Works of Paine's Critics and Followers
Critical and Biographical Information
Additionally, for more information on conservatism in the 1790s, see the
project on Loyalists.