Cheethem and his Tory Paper
Philip Foner's introduction:
This brief essay represents one of Paine's last efforts to cement cordial relationship between America and France. Cheetham's paper was, of course, the American Citizen, once a Jeffersonian organ, but by the time the article was written, September 25, 1807, a scandal-sheet with reactionary leanings.
CHEETHAM is frequently giving symptoms of being the successor of Cullen, alias Carpenter, as Cullen was the successor of Cobbett, alias Porcupine. Like him, he is seeking to involve the United States in a quarrel with France for the benefit of England.
In his paper of Tuesday, September 22, he has a long abusive piece against France, under the title of "Remarks" on the speech of the arch-chancellor of France to the French Senate. This is a matter that CHEETHAM, as an adopted American citizen, has no business with; and as a John BULL it is impertinence in him to come here to spit out his venom against France. But CHEETHAM cannot live without quarreling, nor write without abuse. He is a disgrace to the republicans, whose principle is to live in peace and friendship with all nations, and not to interfere in the domestic concerns of any.
CHEETHAM seems to regret that peace is made on the continent of Europe, and he shows his spleen against it by the following round-about scurrilous paragraph.
"The people of France," says he, "now breathe the air of peace, under slavery, closer, more systematic, military, and universal (CHEETHAM knows nothing about it), than that with which they were overwhelmed previous to the beginning of the long continued calamity." This is spoken exactly in the character of a stupid prejudiced John BULL, who, shut up in his island, and ignorant of the world, supposed all nations slaves but themselves; whereas, those at a distance can see, that of all people enslaved by their governments, none are so much so as the people of England. Had CHEETHAM stayed in England till this time, he would have had to shoulder a musket, and this would have been dreadful to him, for, as all bullies are cowards, the smell of gunpowder would be as horrid to CHEETHAM, as the scent of a skunk to other animals.
The danger to which the city of New York was exposed, by the continual abuse of France in such papers as CULLEN's, was, that the French government might be induced to consider the city of New York as a British colony, such as it was during the revolutionary war, and exclude her from the commerce of the continent of Europe, as she has excluded Britain. CHEETHAM is following the footsteps of CULLEN.
The French nation, under all its changes of government, has always behaved in a civil and friendly manner to the United States. We have no cause of dispute with France. It was by the aid of France in men, money, and ships, that the revolution and independence of the United States were so completely established1, and it is scarcely sufferable that a prejudiced and surly-tempered John BULL should fix himself among us to abuse a friendly power.
September 25, 1807.
- Six thousand French troops under General Rochambeau and thirty-one sail of the line under Admiral De Grass, assisted at the capture of Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia.