Write for Show or Dough?

I just finished reading Eric Foner’s Tom Paine and Revolutionary America, which discusses the historical context for the noted American patriot and pamphleteer. In the blogosphere, there has been a lot of discussion about finding advertisers and corporate sponsors. Magazines and newspapers have long struggled with the perception, warranted or not, that their editorial content is influenced by ad dollars. It is interesting to see that pamphleteers, the precursors to today’s bloggers, have faced the same pressures.

In February 1782, he entered into a secret agreement with Superintendent of Finance Robert Morris, Secretary of State Robert R. Livingston and Commander in Chief George Washington to compose public letters and pamphlets "in support of the measures of Congress and their ministers," and "to prepare the minds of the people for such restraints and such taxes and imposts" as were "absolutely necessary for their own welfare." Four years earlier, in his letters on the Pennsylvania Constitution, Paine had denouced "the wretch" who wrote "on any subject for bread, or in any service for pay," but he now accepted the salary of eight hundred dollars per year paid from a secret fund under Morris’ control as Superintendant of Finance. During 1782 Paine often checked his writings with Morris. [Foner, p. 189]

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