“A Kind of Bee-Hive”: Thomas Paine and the Pennsylvania Magazine

  • Peter Chapin
  • Kara Nowakowski


In January of 1775, less than two months after he arrived in America, Thomas Paine was hired by the printer and bookseller Thomas Aitken to be the editor of his forthcoming journal, the Pennsylvania Magazine, or, American Monthly Museum. Despite his having no editorial experience and only one known published work, the Pennsylvania Magazine soon became under Paine’s editorship the most successful and widely read periodical that had yet been published in the New World. While Paine was not the editor of the inaugural issue, he contributed the lead article, “The Utility of This Work Evinced,” usually referred to today as “The Magazine in America,” on his vision for the new magazine. “America has now outgrown the state of infancy,” Paine argues, and therefore needs the enlarged “opportunities of acquiring and communicating knowledge” that a magazine will provide.1 No publication is, he contends, “more calculated to improve or infect than a periodical one.” “A magazine, when properly conducted, is the nursery of genius … a kind of market of wit and utility.”2


Common Sense Parental Authority American Revolution Lead Article Parent Country 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Peter Chapin and Kara Nowakowski 2016

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  • Peter Chapin
  • Kara Nowakowski

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