Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




To the student of American history, the name of Robert Treat Paine is still one to be conjured with: to the student of American literature, the name of Robert Treat Paine, Jr. usually means little more than a patriotic song, Boston culture in the late eighteenth century, and the faint but definite odor of scandal which still surrounds the ghost of the man who for a full decade of his life was lavishly courted by the satellites of Della Crusca in America, as poet par excellence, dramatic critic, and editor of a frankly partisan newspaper, the Federal Orrery.

During the twenty years in which Paine was writing, there was scarcely a newspaper, magazine or periodical of Massachusetts which did not in some way subscribe to his genius. The patriotic songs of his making were sung by all loyal citizens of the new America, and one, "Adams and Liberty," was known as the "Boston Patriotic Song" at the time of publication. Paine was called upon to write occasional poetry and orations with a frequency which was in itself a tribute to the excellence of his dramatic composition, and the struggling stage of Boston could scarcely have existed without his youthful but ardent support. Washington and Adams alike praised his genius, and the literati of Cambridge and Boston honored his poetic effusions with gracious words and open purses. And yet, as is so often the case where genius has been too readily assumed, the news of the poet's death had scarcely reached the outer confines of Boston before his name was forgotten.