Thomas Paine’s Prophetic “Dream Interpreted”

Thomas Paine
Thomas Paine

They Were Believers with Steve Farrell

Like everything else socialist, today’s public school curricula deny at every turn the religious nature of America’s Founding Fathers and the inspiration these great men felt for the cause of liberty.

Sadly, many of us have come to accept as fact the fallacy that the Founders and our precious liberties are products of the European Enlightenment (a secular movement).

Yet at every turn, the real record, the hidden record, tells a different story: a story of men of faith, men driven not simply by their intellects, but by their hearts; not just by political principle, but by deeply held religious conviction.

Thomas Paine’s inspirational dream, perhaps vision, predicting the War for Independence and its happy outcome, a dream he published in June of 1775, under the title, “The Dream Interpreted,” in the Pennsylvania Magazine, is but one example among many of this untold story of faith in America.

He wrote:

The Dream Interpreted

“Parched with thirst and wearied with a fatiguing journey to Virginia, I turned out of the road to shelter myself among the shades; in a little time I had the good fortune to light on a spring, and the refreshing draught went sweetly down. How little of luxury does nature want! This cooling stream administered more relief than all the wins of Oporto: I drank and was satisfied; my fatigue abated, my wasted spirits were reinforced, and ’tis no wonder after such a delicious repast that I sunk insensibly into slumber.[and dreamed].

“[I]n the dream I am about to relate I was only a spectator, and had not other business to do than to remember.

“To what scene or country my ideas had conveyed themselves, or whether they had created a region on purpose to explore, I know not, but I saw before me one of  the most pleasing landscapes I have ever beheld. I gazed at it, till my mind partaking of the prospect became incorporated therewith, and felt all the tranquility of the place.

“In this state of ideal happiness I sat down on the side of a mountain, totally forgetful of the world I had left behind me. The most delicious fruits presented themselves to my hands, and one of the clearest rivers that ever watered the earth rolled along at the foot of the mountain, and invited me to drink. The distant hills were blue with the tincture of the skies, and seemed as if they were the threshold of the celestial region.

“But while I gazed the whole scene began to change, by an almost insensible gradation. The sun, instead of administering life and health, consumed everything with an intolerable heat. The verdure withered. The hills appeared burnt and black. The fountains dried away; and the atmosphere became a motionless lake of air, loaded with pestilence and death.

“After several days of wretched suffocation, the sky grew darkened with clouds from every quarter, till one extended storm excluded the face of heaven. A dismal silence took place, as if the earth, struck with a general panic, was listening like a criminal to the sentence of death. The glimmering light with which the sun feebly penetrated the clouds began to fail, till Egyptian darkness added to the horror. The beginning of the tempest was announced by a confusion of distant thunders, till at length a general discharge of the whole artillery of heaven was poured down upon the earth.

“Trembling I shrunk into the side of a cave, and dreaded the event. The mountain shook, and threatened me with instant destruction. The rapid lightning at every blaze exhibit the landscape of a world on fire, while the accumulating torrent, no in rain, but floods of water, resembled another deluge.

“At length the fury of the storm abated, and nature, fatigued with fear and watching, sank into rest. But when the morning rose, and the universal lamp of heaven emerged from the deep, how was I struck with astonishment! I expected to have seen a world in ruins, which nothing but a new creation could have restored.

“Instead of which, the prospect was lovely and inviting, and had all the promising appearance of exceeding its former glory.  The air, purged of it poisonous vapours, was fresh and healthy. The dried fountains were replenished, the waters sweet and wholesome. The sickly earth, recovered to new life, abounded with vegetation. The groves were musical with innumerable songsters, and the long-deserted fields echoed with the joyous sound of the husband man. All, all was felicity’ and what I had dreaded as an evil, became a blessing. At this happy reflection I awoke: and have refreshed myself with draught from the friendly spring, pursued my journey.

“After traveling a few miles I fell in with a companion, and as we rode through a wood but little frequented by travelers, I began, for the sake of chatting away the tediousness of the journey, to relate my dream.

” I think, replied my friend, that I can interpret it; That beautiful country which you saw is America. The sickly state you beheld her in, has been coming on her for these ten years past. Her commerce has been drying up by repeated restrictions, till by one merciless edict the ruin of it is completed.

“The pestilential atmosphere represents that ministerial corruption which surrounds and exercises its dominion over her, and which noting but a storm can purify. The tempest is the present contest and the event will be the same. She will rise with new glories from the conflict, and her fame be established in every corner of the globe; while it will be remembered to her eternal honour, that she has not sought the quarrel, but has been driven into it.

“He who guides the natural tempest will regulate the political one, and bring good out of evil. In our petition to Britain we asked but for peace; but the prayer was rejected. The cause is now before a higher court, the court of Providence, before whom the arrogance of kings, the infidelity of ministers, the general corruption of government, and all the cobweb artifice of courts, will fall confounded and ashamed.” (1)

Thomas Paine, who, though later in life through his fools errand involvement in the French Revolution, would lose his way,  yet here’s the vital truth: at this critical juncture in American history, like many of his fellow laborers during this heaven inspired American Founding Era, was one who saw the hand of God in the raising of a standard of liberty in the United States, and unlike the spineless crew of politicians and educators who take to the pen and the pulpit today, he was not afraid to reveal this matter of faith in public.

We can do likewise. We can remember and share with others this principle of faith, this foundational rock beneath our liberties, which is this: The moving power behind our blessed Independence and Freedom was and is God.

As we do so, a retelling of Thomas Paine’s prophetic dream, might be as good a place as any to start.

Return to They Were Believers homepage.


1. Thomas Paine, Pennsylvania Magazine, June 1775.

Steve Farrell is the Founder and Editor In Chief of Self-Educated American. One of the original and most popular pundits at (1999-2007), Mr. Farrell is  the author of the highly praised inspirational novel, Dark Rose

Copyright © 2013 Steve Farrell.

Self-Educated American recommends George Washington’s Sacred Fire