In fact Thomas Paine was to receive a turbulent reception in America. Thomas Jefferson’s letter offering to ship him back in a federal vessel had been leaked to the press, probably by Paine himself. Paine was echoing rumours of John Adams’s regal ambitions, propagated by his Republican opponents. Ironically Paine was an advocate of ‘cementing the Union by a general government operating equally over all the States’. The Letter to George Washington was one of several reasons why Paine found himself unpopular on his return to the United States. Paine’s sceptical deism was completely at odds with the evangelical Christianity which was at the heart of the religious revival. Even the Federalist press was prepared to concede that ‘as a writer Paine possesses the peculiar talent of tendering himself understood and interesting to the weakest capacity’. The imminence of the elections had led Paine to postpone presenting to Congress in January a memoir on the construction of iron bridges.