Paine suffered then, as now he suffers not so much because of what he wrote as from the misinterpretations of others...He disbelieved the ancient myths and miracles taught by established creeds. But the attacks on those creeds - or on persons devoted to them - have served to darken his memory, casting a shadow across the closing years of his life.When Theodore Roosevelt termed Tom Paine a 'dirty little atheist' he surely spoke from lack of understanding. It was a stricture, an inaccurate charge of the sort that has dimmed the greatness of this eminent American. But the true measure of his stature will yet be appreciated. The torch which he handed on will not be extinguished. If Paine had ceased his writings with 'The Rights of Man' he would have been hailed today as one of the two or three outstanding figures of the Revolution. But 'The Age of Reason' cost him glory at the hands of his countrymen - a greater loss to them than to Tom Paine.I was always interested in Paine the inventor. He conceived and designed the iron bridge and the hollow candle; the principle of the modern central draught burner. The man had a sort of universal genius. He was interested in a diversity of things; but his special creed, his first thought, was liberty.Traducers have said that he spent his last days drinking in pothouses. They have pictured him as a wicked old man coming to a sorry end. But I am persuaded that Paine must have looked with magnanimity and sorrow on the attacks of his countrymen. That those attacks have continued down to our day, with scarcely any abatement, is an indication of how strong prejudice, when once aroused, may become. It has been a custom in some quarters to hold up Paine as an example of everything bad.The memory of Tom Paine will outlive all this. No man who helped to lay the foundations of our liberty - who stepped forth as the champion of so difficult a cause - can be permanently obscured by such attacks. Tom Paine should be read by his countrymen. I commend his fame to their hands.{The Philosophy of Paine, June 7, 1925}
Thomas A. Edison