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I must doubt whether what you now suggest, will be as good as your first idea; to wit, to have every, rail split into two pieces longitudinally, so that there shall be but the halves of the holes in each, and then, to clamp the two halves together.The solidity of this method cannot be equal to that of the solid rail, and it increases the suspicious parts of the whole machine, which, in a first experiment, ought to be rendered as few as possible.The burning words of the pamphlet, and the series of “The Crisis,” need not be echoed.
Stone and wood had been the sole material used in arching streams.
Paine bethought himself of the use of iron and worked out a plan for bridging the Harlem River, which General Lewis Morris, fonnder of Morrisania on the farther shore, was to have financed. Paine then proposed to place it across the Schuylkill, hut funds were not to be had.
From Paris he wrote to Benjamin Vaughan, in 1787: “Mr.
Paine (Common Sense) is in Paris on his way to England.
He has brought the model of an iron bridge, with which he supposes a single arch of four hundred feet may be made.” He gave the bridge much thought, writing more than once to the inventor. that the execution of the arch of experiment exceeds your expectations.
“I will begin with the subject of your bridge, in which I feel myself interested;” he observed a letter to Paine, “and it is with great pleasure that I learn . In your former letter, you mention that instead of arranging your tubes and bolts as ordi-nates to the cord of the arch, you had reverted to your first idea, of arranging them in the direction of the radii.
So it was that Thomas Paine, alternately corset maker, exciseman, and agitator, fell athwart Benjamin Franklin while in London lobbying for better pay to collectors of revenue from spirits, and was persuaded to sail for our land of opportunity, where the Revolution was ripening. The pamphleteer had yet to be superseded by the journalist, and “Common Sense” electrified the colonies when it first appeared on January 10, 1776, half a year ahead of the Declaration.
Here he arrived in due season, with a letter to Richard Bache, describing him as “an ingenious, worthy young man,” to whom the note brought more in the way of acquaintance than employment. If ever there was a loud note to kings and ministers, this was it!
This, alone, ought to excuse him from having earned the name of infidel.
Following Cromwell’s era in England, the period of 1776 on our side of the sea was the first to give common men a chance.