The Headstrong Club
The Headstrong Club was an informal debating society that met in the English County Town of Lewes in Sussex during the latter part of the 18th Century. It’s most famous member was at that time a little known exciseman, Thomas Paine. Paine lived in Lewes from 1768 until 1774 when, encouraged by friends including Benjamin Franklin, he set sail for the American colonies and settled, initially in Philadelphia.
Paine went on to write the three best selling works of the era; Common Sense, The Rights of Man and The Age of Reason. The first made the case for American independence and decisively turned public opinion towards separation from Britain. The second made the case for democratic government. The third was primarily a critique of organised religion. Paine was the first writer to articulate the case for democracy in a way that engaged a mass audience and is one of the most important political thinkers Britain has ever produced.
The Headstrong Club was the arena in which Paine appears to have cut his political teeth. During this period he published the first pamphlet that brought him to pubic attention The Case of the Officers of Excise an entreaty to improve the pay and conditions of the government’s revenue inspectors.
I started The Headstrong Club blog to provide a forum for political discussion. Certain issues of our day would have exercised Paine’s passions. Not least amongst these would have been the state of our democracy. Paine and his contemporaries risked their lives in the case not just of American independence but also of democracy. They would have been both impressed by how their ideas had taken root and dismayed by how little we tend to the wellbeing of the seeds they planted.
Please feel free to contribute ether comments or essays. I intend to moderate this blog with as light a touch as possible, purely to curtail pointless invective or abuse and to keep it broadly on topic. However disagreement and debate is the order of the day – make your point and make it well and the Headstrong Club welcomes you.
For those trying to contact the present day debating society The Headstrong Club that meets in Lewes please its email contact is headstrongclub (at) gmail.com This blog is unconnected with that society save, perhaps, in spirit.