Order of Exercises at the Paine Festival, at Washington Hall, Charlestown . . . January 29, 1861

Broadside, 1861

American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Massachusetts

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Thomas Paine’s January 9 birthday festivals, inaugurated shortly after Paine’s death in 1809, served as a rallying point for freethinkers and reformers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in both Great Britain and the United States.

“Ode to America,” sung to the tune of “Rule Britannia,” was one of four poems written by Paine. “I had some turn, and I believe some talent for poetry,” Paine observed in reflecting on his early Quaker background, “but this I rather repressed than encouraged, as leading too much into the field of imagination.”

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