WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-08) along with eight of his House colleagues, introduced legislation to authorize the construction of a memorial to American political activist and philosopher Thomas Paine.
“Tom Paine was a person so far ahead of his time that his work still challenges us in significant ways today to build a more democratic society,” said Rep. Raskin. “This luminary patriot of the Enlightenment and the American Revolution inspired people in the colonies not only to overthrow the tyranny of faraway kings but to launch a nation founded on principles of democratic self-government, the rights of men and of women, and reason and science. Despite his catalytic role in founding America and our constitutional republic, Paine remains too often on the dark outskirts of history. It is way past time for Congress to give Paine the central place of respect and awe he deserves in our Nation’s Capital. This memorial to Paine—amazingly, already pre-funded with a flood of voluntary contributions and pledges from private citizens—will be a powerful and dramatic addition to the symbolic life of Washington, D.C.”
“We can think of no one better suited to champion the resolution to dedicate a memorial to our 'forgotten Founder' Thomas Paine — than U.S. Representative Jamie Raskin,” said Annie Laurie Gaylor, Co-President and Co-Founder, Freedom from Religion Foundation. “Raskin embodies Paine's dedication to reason, democracy, liberty, and humanistic values. We are honored to be working with him to help restore Thomas Paine to his rightful place in our country’s history.”
“One of America's greatest founders has been woefully overlooked in the nation's capital,” said Robyn Blumner, President & CEO, Center for Inquiry. “In Common Sense, Thomas Paine made the powerful and persuasive case for American independence. Paine's influential and popular writings helped to forge the ideals of our nation and cement popular support for the revolution. The Center for Inquiry heartily endorses a statue in Washington, DC to honor this great man and thinker. Thank you to members of Congress who seek to correct this historical oversight.”
“Thomas Paine changed the world by introducing the concepts of modern democracy, equality, and justice,” said Margaret Downey, Founder and President, Freethought Society. “These were his basic tenets for good governance. Long neglected, he stands as the embodiment of the Declaration of Independence, and his Crisis papers were the spark that won the American Revolution. Statues are created to honor people as well as to represent the ethos of a society. A statue of Thomas Paine will bring attention to the fundamental principles of the country, and serve as a source of unity of our founding principles.”
“Thomas Paine most definitely deserves a monument in Washington, DC,” said Harvey J. Kaye, Professor Emeritus of Democracy and Justice Studies, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, and author of Thomas Paine, Firebrand of Revolution and Thomas Paine and the Promise of America. “Paine emboldened Americans to turn their colonial rebellion into a world-historic revolutionary war for independence and a democratic republic, defined the new nation in a democratically expansive and progressive fashion, and articulated an American identity charged with exceptional purpose and promise. With good reason, Americans in every generation—freethinkers, abolitionists, suffragists, labor unionists, populists, socialists, civil rights campaigners, feminists, and gay activists—have claimed Paine as their champion as they sought to advance freedom, equality, and democracy in the United States.”
The legislation will authorize the Thomas Paine Memorial Association to establish a memorial to Paine in the District of Columbia. The memorial will be funded with private contributions, 100% of which have already been raised or pledged by supporters of Paine and his work. The Thomas Paine Memorial Association plans to commission renowned sculptor Zenos Frudakis to build the monument to Paine.
Rep. Raskin’s legislation has the support of numerous private groups.
The full list of original cosponsors on the bill includes: Sean Casten (IL-06), Madeleine Dean (PA-04), Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), Jared Huffman (CA-02), James P. McGovern (MA-02), Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Thomas R. Suozzi (NY-03).