Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine was born in Thetford, England, in 1737, the son of a staymaker. He had little schooling and worked at a number of jobs, including tax collector, a position he lost for agitating for an increase in excisemen’s pay. Persuaded by Benjamin Franklin, he emigrated to America in 1774. In 1776 he began his American Crisis series of thirteen pamphlets, and also published the incalculably influential Common Sense, which established Paine not only as a truly revolutionary thinker, but as the American Revolution’s fiercest political theorist.
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Political and anti-Christian writer, son of a stay-maker and small farmer of Quaker principles at Thetford, became with large classes perhaps the most unpopular man in England. After trying various occupations, including those of schoolmaster and exciseman, and having separated from his wife, he went in 1774 to America where, in 1776, he published his famous pamphlet, Common Sense, in favour of American independence. He served in the American army, and also held some political posts, including that of secretary to a mission to France in 1781. Returning to England in 1787 he published his Rights of Man (1790–92), in reply to Burke’s Reflections on the French Revolution. It had an enormous circulation, 1,500,000 copies having been sold in England alone; but it made it necessary for him to escape to France to avoid prosecution. Arrived in that country he was elected to the National Convention. He opposed the execution of Louis XVI., and was, in 1794, imprisoned by Robespierre, whose fall saved his life. He had then just completed the first part of his Age of Reason, of which the other two appeared respectively in 1795 and 1807. It is directed alike against Christianity and Atheism, and supports Deism. Becoming disgusted with the course of French politics, he returned to America in 1802, but found himself largely ostracised by society there, became embroiled in various controversies, and is said to have become intemperate. He died at New York in 1809. Though apparently sincere in his views, and courageous in the expression of them, Paine was vain and prejudiced. The extraordinary lucidity and force of his style did much to gain currency for his writings.
Thomas Paine (1737-1809) was an author, pamphleteer, radical, inventor, intellectual, revolutionary, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He has been called "a corsetmaker by trade, a journalist by profession, and a propagandist by inclination." Born in Thetford, in the English county of Norfolk, Paine emigrated to the British American colonies in 1774 in time to participate in the American Revolution. His principal contributions were the powerful, widely read pamphlet "Common Sense" (1776), advocating colonial America's independence from Great Britain, and "The American Crisis" (1776-1783), a pro-revolutionary pamphlet series. Paine was also deeply involved in the early stages of the French Revolution. He wrote the "Rights of Man" (1791), in part a defence of the French Revolution against its critics, in particular the British statesman Edmund Burke. Despite not speaking French, he was elected to the French National Convention in 1792. The Girondists regarded him as an ally, so, the Montagnards, especially Robespierre, regarded him as an enemy. In December of 1793, he was arrested and imprisoned in Paris, then released in 1794. He became notorious because of "The Age of Reason" (1793-94), his book advocating deism, promoting reason and freethinking, and arguing against institutionalized religion and Christian doctrines. He also wrote the pamphlet "Agrarian Justice" (1795), discussing the origins of property, and introduced the concept of a guaranteed minimum income.
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