Authors of Independence: Comparing Thomas Paine and Camilo Henríquez as Revolutionary Writers

Sean Gray, Providence College


An nineteenth-century Chilean writer, Fr. Camilo Henriquez was a fascinating figure—a Catholic priest whose religious beliefs more closely aligned with Deism, a prolific proponent of Chilean independence, and, for a short while, the president of the Chilean Senate. Because of his role in creating La Aurora, the first Chilean newspaper, Henríquez is often considered the “father of Chilean journalism” and the “mentor of the revolution." But to understand his role in the Chilean independence movement, we must juxtapose him with Thomas Paine, the pamphleteer extraordinaire of the American Revolution. The Enlightenment’s ideals of liberty and equality influenced both men, and, based on Henríquez’ distinct writing style and methods of argument, Paine influenced Henríquez as well. In lucid prose and memorable arguments, each explained to his people why they needed to declare independence from oppressive empires. Both their debut pamphlets, Paine's Common Sense and Henriquez' Proclama de Quirino Lamechez, and their subsequent newspapers, The American Crisis and La Aurora, stood out amongst the revolutionary literature of their time, making delible impacts on the collective psyches of their peoples. Simply put, because of their tangible influence on the American and Chilean revolutionary movements, both Paine and Henríquez should be considered true authors of independence.