Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine

Tom Paine was born in England and worked as a tax collector and political writer. Following the War for American Independence, Paine left for England.

In 1791-92 he published The Rights of Man, a justification of the French Revolution; the treatise was suppressed in that country. Fleeing to France, Paine became politically active and was elected to the National Convention. In 1793, during the Reign of Terror, Paine was imprisoned by the Jacobins. During his confinement, he penned The Age of Reason, which embraced the popular deistic views of the day and was regarded as critical of the Bible. In 1796, Paine published a "Letter to George Washington," in which he attacked the soldierly reputation and policies of America`s hero. Paine returned to the United States in 1802. He died in New York City in 1809, a lonely, bitter and destitute man. His remains were later taken to England for reburial but were lost.

Thomas Paine

One of the most influential writers during the American Revolution, Thomas Paine also helped shape the political ideologies of George Washington. Yet Paine's popularity was based not solely on original ideas, but rather his feverish level of activity and style of writing. Evidenced in the title of his most famous pamphlet, Common Sense, Paine wrote in a manner that appealed to the masses, not just American elites. In addition, Paine constantly agitated for democratic reforms not only in the United States, but also in France and England as well, and helped link the dramatic transformations of the various nations in the northern Atlantic world during the late 1700s.

Paine was born in 1737 in Thetford, England. After brief stints as a sailor and tax official, Paine was introduced to Benjamin Franklin in London in 1774 and subsequently moved to Philadelphia. As anger at Great Britain deepened and armed conflict erupted in the American colonies, Paine wrote his most famous pamphlet, Common Sense, which appeared in January 1776. While many other writers spoke of England trampling on the British rights of colonials, but believed King George III would soon rectify the wrongs done to the colonies, Paine argued that the entire British system was fundamentally based on a tyranny of aristocracy and monarchy.

Paine claimed that the colonies should sever their ties to England once and for all, establish a democratic government with a written constitution, and thus gain the advantages of free trade and freedom from being constantly dragged into European wars. Paine wrote clearly and simply in order to reach the common masses and his ideas contributed greatly to spreading enthusiasm for independence from Great Britain. It has been estimated that nearly 50,000 copies of the pamphlet appeared in the colonies in the years leading to the Revolution.

George Washington was amongst the wide readership of Paine's writings. Before the famous crossing of the Delaware on the way to victory at Trenton in late 1776, General George Washington ordered officers to read Paine's The American Crisis to the Continental Army. Contained in that pamphlet were Paine's famous words, "These are the times that try mens souls." During the Revolution, Paine also worked with radicals in Philadelphia to draft a new state constitution in 1776 that abolished property qualifications for voting and holding office.

Paine returned to Britain in 1787, but soon experienced persecution due to his fervent support of the French Revolution. When the conservative English writer and politician Edmund Burke heavily criticized the French Revolution, Paine wrote a new work titled The Rights of Man which argued that oppression in society stemmed from aristocratic control of an unequal and undemocratic political system. Paine was charged with treason and escaped to France in 1793 where he was elected a member of the National Assembly. When he objected to the beheading of the French King Louis XVI, he was thrown in jail until the American ambassador to France, James Monroe, was able to secure his release.

Paine remained in France for several years, writing his last well-known work, the three-part Age of Reason. In 1796 Paine published a bitter open letter to George Washington, personally attacking Washington as an incompetent general and elitist president who had betrayed Paine for not protecting him when he claimed American citizenship when arrested by France. Paine scathingly wrote in regards to Washington that, "Monopolies of every kind marked your administration almost in the moment of its commencement. The lands obtained by the Revolution were lavished upon partisans the interest of the disbanded soldier was sold to the speculator&hellipIn what fraudulent light must Mr. Washington's character appear in the world, when his declarations and his conduct are compared together!" 1 Despite Paine's dissatisfaction with the years following the America Revolution, Paine returned to the United States in 1802 upon the invitation of President Thomas Jefferson. Paine remained in the United States until his death in 1809.

Kevin Grimm, Ph.D.
Beloit College

1. The Writings of Thomas Paine, Vol. 3, ed. Moncure Daniel Conway (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1895), 243.

Foner, Eric. Tom Paine and Revolutionary America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976.

Fruchtman Jr., Jack. The Political Philosophy of Thomas Paine. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009.

Kaye, Harvey J. Thomas Paine and the Promise of America. New York: Hill and Wang, 2006.

Early Life

Paine was born in Thetford, England, in 1737, to a Quaker father and an Anglican mother. Paine received little formal education but did learn to read, write and perform arithmetic. At the age of 13, he began working with his father as stay maker (the thick rope stays used on sailing ships) in Thetford, a shipbuilding town. Some sources state he and his father were corset makers, but most historians cite this as an example of slanders spread by his enemies. He later worked as an officer of the excise, hunting smugglers and collecting liquor and tobacco taxes. He did not excel at this job, nor at any other early job, and his life in England was, in fact, marked by repeated failures.

To compound his professional hardships, around 1760, Paine&aposs wife and child both died in childbirth, and his business, that of making stay ropes, went under. In the summer of 1772, Paine published "The Case of the Officers of Excise," a 21-page article in defense of higher pay for excise officers. It was his first political work, and he spent that winter in London, handing out the 4,000 copies of the article to members of Parliament and other citizens. In the spring of 1774, Paine was fired from the excise office and began to see his outlook as bleak. Luckily, he soon met Benjamin Franklin, who advised him to move to America and provided him with letters of introduction to the soon-to-be-formed nation.

History of a Universal Basic Income

In a strict sense, the intellectual history of universal basic income is roughly half a century old. But the idea that the government should somehow prop up everyone's earnings has cropped up repeatedly over the past two centuries: as a citizen's dividend, a social credit, a national dividend, a demogrant, a negative income tax, and a guaranteed minimum income (or "mincome"), among other concepts. Few of these proposals fit the usual definition of a basic income, and they differ from one another significantly. But they share a common thread.

The erosion of income security

For much of human history, it was assumed that society would provide a basic standard of living for those who could not provide for themselves. Hunter-gatherer societies—the only kind around for nine-tenths of Homo sapiens' existence—were bound together not just by kinship networks, but by overlapping systems that followed the same logic. If a !Kung forager in the Kalahari met someone with his sister's name, he was expected to treat her like a sister, her son like a nephew, and so on. Inuit men were tied to lifelong meat-trading partners, to whom they gave a cut of each seal they killed. No one lacked for family.

Agriculture and urbanization whittled such networks down to the nuclear family or even the individual. The larger institutions that took their place—church, state—left gaps. These shifts occurred over centuries, so few noticed, except when cultures on either side of the change collided. Take, for example, Charles Eastman, who was born Ohiyesa to the hunter-gatherer Sioux in 1858 and was horrified by the deprivation he saw in Victorian Boston:

Thomas Paine and Henry George

Encounters between egalitarian societies and complex, unequal ones led people in the latter to consider a basic income more than once. Thomas Paine, an intellectual architect of the American Revolution, was struck by the Iroquois' way of life (they were farmers, not foragers) and made an effort to learn their language. In 1795 he considered the toll that "human invention" had taken on society. "Cultivation is at least one of the greatest natural improvements ever made," he wrote, but

Paine proposed that a "groundrent" of £15 be paid to every individual upon turning 21, followed by £10 every year after turning 50. He argued that "every person, rich or poor," should receive the payments "to prevent invidious distinctions." Napoleon Bonaparte was sympathetic to the idea, but never implemented it.

A century later Henry George, an American economist active after the Civil War, called for "no taxes and a pension for everybody" via a public land fund. He was influenced by Paine and cited Sioux chiefs' astonishment at visiting East Coast cities to witness "little children at work."

The past 100 years

In the 20th century, the basic income cause was taken up by the left. Huey Long, a populist senator from Louisiana, proposed a minimum income of $2,000 to $2,500 in 1934 (as well as a maximum income of 300 times the average). G.D.H. Cole, a political economist at Oxford, advocated a "social dividend" as part of a planned economy. In 1953 he became the first to use the phrase "basic income."

In the 1960s—perhaps coincidentally, as anthropologists were documenting the !Kung and other fast-fading hunter-gatherer cultures—the idea of a guaranteed minimum income entered the political mainstream. Martin Luther King endorsed it. Experiments were run in New Jersey, Iowa, North Carolina, Indiana, Seattle, Denver, and Manitoba. Nixon pushed to make it federal law, though he insisted that his "basic Federal minimum" included work incentives and so was different from the $1,000 annual "demogrant" George McGovern would have given to every citizen.

The political winds shifted, and the idea of a basic income hunkered down on the far left during the Reagan-Thatcher era. Market socialists weighed its merits against those of other fringe proposals, such as a coupon-based stock market in which all citizens would own dividend-paying shares, without the option to cash out. The occasional proponent from elsewhere on the political spectrum cropped up, including the self-described "Old Whig" Friedrich Hayek.

Thomas Paine - History

Thomas Paine was an English-born American political activist, philosopher, political theorist, and revolutionary. He authored the two most influential pamphlets at the start of the American Revolution and inspired the patriots in 1776 to declare independence from Great Britain. His ideas reflected Enlightenment-era ideals of transnational human rights. Historian Saul K. Padover described him as “a corsetmaker by trade, a journalist by profession, and a propagandist by inclination”.

Born in Thetford in the English county of Norfolk, Paine migrated to the British American colonies in 1774 with the help of Benjamin Franklin, arriving just in time to participate in the American Revolution. Virtually every rebel read (or listened to a reading of) his powerful pamphlet Common Sense (1776), proportionally the all-time best-selling American title, which catalysed the rebellious demand for independence from Great Britain. His The American Crisis (1776–1783) was a pro-revolutionary pamphlet series. Common Sense was so influential that John Adams said: “Without the pen of the author of Common Sense, the sword of Washington would have been raised in vain”. Paine lived in France for most of the 1790s, becoming deeply involved in the French Revolution. He wrote Rights of Man (1791), in part a defense of the French Revolution against its critics. His attacks on Anglo-Irish conservative writer Edmund Burke led to a trial and conviction in absentia in England in 1792 for the crime of seditious libel.

The British government of William Pitt the Younger, worried by the possibility that the French Revolution might spread to England, had begun suppressing works that espoused radical philosophies. Paine’s work, which advocated the right of the people to overthrow their government, was duly targeted, with a writ for his arrest issued in early 1792. Paine fled to France in September where, despite not being able to speak French, he was quickly elected to the French National Convention. The Girondists regarded him as an ally. Consequently, the Montagnards, especially Maximilien Robespierre, regarded him as an enemy.

A Biography of Thomas Paine (1737-1809)

Thomas Paine was born on the twenty-ninth of January 1737 at Thetford, Norfolk in England, as a son of a Quaker. After a short basic education, he started to work, at first for his father, later as an officer of the excise. During this occupation Thomas Paine was an unsuccesfull man, and was twice dismissed from his post. In 1774, he met Benjamin Franklin in London, who advised him to emigrate to America, giving him letters of recommandation.

Paine landed at Philadelphia on November 30, 1774. Starting over as a publicist, he first published his African Slavery in America, in the spring of 1775, criticizing slavery in America as being unjust and inhumane. At this time he also had become co-editor of the Pennsylvania Magazine On arriving in Philadelphia, Paine had sensed the rise of tension, and the spirit of rebellion, that had steadily mounted in the Colonies after the Boston Teaparty and when the fightings had started, in April 1775, with the battles of Lexington and Concord. In Paine's view the Colonies had all the right to revolt against a government that imposed taxes on them but which did not give them the right of representation in the Parliament at Westminster. But he went even further: for him there was no reason for the Colonies to stay dependent on England. On January 10, 1776 Paine formulated his ideas on american independence in his pamphlet Common Sense.

In his Common Sense, Paine states that sooner or later independence from England must come, because America had lost touch with the mother country. In his words, all the arguments for separation of England are based on nothing more than simple facts, plain arguments and common sense. Government was necessary evil that could only become safe when it was representative and altered by frequent elections. The function of government in society ought to be only regulating and therefore as simple as possible. Not suprisingly, but nevertheless remarkable was his call for a declaration of independence. Due to the many copies sold (500.000) Paine's influence on the Declaration of Independence of July 4, 1776 is eminent. Another sign of his great influence is the number of loyalist reactions to Common Sense.

During the War of Independence Paine volunteered in the Continental Army and started with the writing of his highly influencial sixteen American Crisis papers, which he published between 1776 and 1783. In 1777 he became Secretary of the Committee of Foreign Affairs in Congress, but already in 1779 he was forced to resign because he had disclosed secret information. In the following nine years he worked as a clerck at the Pennsylvania Assembly and published several of his writings.

In 1787 Thomas Paine left for England, innitialy to raise funds for the building of a bridge he had designed, but after the outbreak of the French Revolution he became deeply involved in it. Between March 1791 and February 1792 he published numerous editions of his Rights of Man, in which he defended the French Revolution against the attacks by Edmund Burke, in his Reflections on the Revolution in France. But it was more then a defence of the French Revolution: An analysis of the roots of the discontent in Europe, which he laid in arbitrary government, poverty, illiteracy, unemployment and war. The book being banned in England because it opposed to monarchy, Paine failed to be arrested because he was already on his way to France, having been ellected in the National Convention. Though a true republicanist, he was imprisoned in 1793 under Robespierre, because he had voted against the execution of the dethroned king Louis XVI. During his imprisonment the publication of his Age of Reason started. Age of Reason was written in praise of the achievements of the Age of Enlightment, and it was om this book that he was acussed of being an atheist.

After his release he stayed in France until 1802, when he sailed back to America, after an invitation by Thomas Jefferson who had met him before when he was minister in Paris and who admirred him. Back in the United States he learned that he was seen as a great infidel, or simply forgotten for what he had done for America. He continued his critical writings, for instance against the Federalists and on religious superstition.

After his death in New York City on June 8, 1809 the newspapers read: He had lived long, did some good and much harm, which time judged to be an unworthy epitaph.

Thomas Paine’s Attitudes Toward Religion Impacted His Legacy, Author Says

WASHINGTON, October 18, 2019 — Thomas Paine's open call for American independence from Great Britain in Common Sense inspired revolutionaries across the 13 colonies to revolt against the crown. The ripple of insurrection across the Atlantic earned Paine notoriety—and infamy—through the prolific distribution of his pamphlet and his support of the French Revolution. But Paine’s many other accomplishments in writing, poetry, science, and engineering have failed to appeal to the American public as treasured relics of history because of Paine’s scathing criticism of organized religion, according to Harlow Giles Unger, author of Thomas Paine and the Clarion Call for American Independence.

Harlow Giles Unger, author of Thomas Paine and the Clarion Call for American Independence, speaks at the National Archives in Washington, DC.

Looking beyond Thomas Paine's Common Sense, Unger, a prolific author and historian, discussed his latest book in the William G. McGowan Theater at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, on October 15.

David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, spoke about the important role Paine played in America’s history during his welcome.

“Thomas Paine's words were instrumental to the success of the Revolution,” Ferriero said. “His famous pamphlet Common Sense predated the Declaration of Independence and laid out the argument for a break with Great Britain. The American Crisis pamphlets inspired and encouraged Americans to persevere against the British Army. Even today, the opening line is familiar to us: ‘These are the times that try men's souls.’”

You can find many documents written by or to Thomas Paine at Founders Online, administered by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, part of the National Archives.

“Common Sense became the most widely read work in the western world, after only the Bible,” Unger said of Paine’s famous pamphlet, published in January 1776. “[Paine] wrote dozens of essays, earning tens of thousands of dollars of which he kept not a penny for himself. He ordered his printers to give every cent he earned to Congress to buy war supplies for George Washington.”

It's been said: “Without the pen of Paine, the sword of Washington would have been wielded in vain.”

Paine’s antimonarchy works made their way across the Atlantic, where “in France, he was known as the ‘celebrated author of Common Sense,’” Unger said. Paine’s service to the French National Convention between 1792 and 1795 fell victim to his refusal to support the execution by guillotine of Louis XVI. The decision drew ire from French Revolutionaries, and he was imprisoned in France until an American diplomat secured his release and return to the United States.

In addition to his role as a passionate advocate of revolution, Paine was a vitriolic opponent of organized religion and the so-called “divine right of kings.” Paine’s disdain for both ideas intersect in this excerpt from Part 2 of Common Sense:

In England a king hath little more to do than to make war and give away places which in plain terms, is to impoverish the nation and set it together by the ears. A pretty business indeed for a man to be allowed eight hundred thousand sterling a year for, and worshipped into the bargain! Of more worth is one honest man to society and in the sight of God, than all the crowned ruffians that ever lived.

“Like many other great men in those times Tom Paine educated himself,” Unger said. “He devoured books on philosophy, Greek and Roman history, and sciences such as electricity, hydrostatics, mechanics and astronomy. He was brilliant he absorbed enough for the equivalent of two or three university educations by himself.”

But Paine’s scathing criticisms of religion, in general, and of Christianity, in particular, overshadowed acclaim for his ingenuity in writing, poetry, science, and engineering. Many of Paine's contemporaries ridiculed him for his criticism, and only a handful of people attended his funeral following his death in 1809, according to Unger.

Even today, Unger said, school systems in the United States are loath to promote the works of Thomas Paine because of his negative views on organized religion. Paine’s deism—the belief in God, but the eschewing of organized religion—is often erroneously confused with atheism.

“You have two problems with history texts in secondary schools in America,” Unger said. “The first is the small amount of time given to study subjects in a typical school day, which makes learning centuries of American history difficult.

“The other problem is a religious problem: in towns across America, school boards are run by everyday people, many of whom are churchgoers who simply will not tolerate their kids reading any of the works that Thomas Paine wrote . . . especially Age of Reason.”

Unger devoted an entire appendix in his biography of Thomas Paine to the controversial Age of Reason. “In that appendix, you will see why most school boards in America would not tolerate their children reading Thomas Paine’s works.”

You can watch the program at the National Archives YouTube channel.

Thomas Paine - History

Thomas Paine is fondly remembered as one of the founding fathers of American independence. One of his highly acclaimed literary contributions, the Common Sense (1776) actually advocated Colonial American independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain (also commonly known as the Union Jack). A man of many talents, he was exemplified as a revered author, a renowned pamphleteer, a radical by nature, an acclaimed intellectual, and a profound revolutionary.


Thomas Paine had a humble upbringing. He was born on January 29, 1737 in Norfolk England as derived from provable statistical data. He was the son of a poor Quaker corset-maker father and little about his mother is known. He received his primary education from a local grammar school but was eventually forced by his father to learn the corset-making trade. He apprenticed and worked under his father for a period of 3 years before running away to sea at a tender age of 16. Thomas duly found that the corset-making trade was not his cup of tea. He thereby joined a British privateer at sea during the Seven Year War (1756-1763) before returning back to London.

After the Seven Year War

On returning back to London he worked as a corsetiere in Kent as he was cut out for employment options. Corset-making was something Thomas never really fancied from day one. He further went on to serve as an excise man in Lincolnshire, followed by a short teaching stint a local school in London thereafter. Finally settled down once again as an excise officer this time in 1768 with a firm called Lewes, based in East Sussex, England, alongside managing a small shop. His personal life was one to forget. He briefly married for a period of one year in 1760 before his beloved wife passed away. He remarried again in the year 1771 before being legally separated from his second wife after just three years of marriage, 1774. To summarize his personal life, childless marriages compounded his misery.

Journey to America

During his tenure at Lewes, Thomas was an active participant in local affairs. He served on the local town and went to the extent of establishing a “Debate Club” at a local pub. As a worker and entrepreneur, Thomas was a failure. He was expelled from his duties as an excise officer at Lewes due to frequent absences and further shut down shop since the business was not much to harp about. It was during this period he met a Good Samaritan by the name of Mr. Benjamin Walker, who helped him immigrate to America somewhere in October 1774. Upon reaching American soil, Thomas Paine settled in Philadelphia and embarked on a new career as a journalist. He penned and contributed many articles for a journal called the “Pennsylvania Magazine” during this period.

Life in America

True to traits of his revolutionist and patriotic nature, Thomas committed himself to the cause of American independence despite living in America for less than a year. He ridiculed monarchial type of government, unethical virtues of British policies and discounted ideas of reconciliation with his native land, Great Britain. He believed that the American Revolution was an ethical agitation for a transparent political system, and that the land of America was a superpower in its own right.

Thomas was a man who lacked tactical ability. This is evident in his failed employment and entrepreneurship ventures. He became infamous for provoking controversy and lived a penniless life for a period of time. He lived on borrowed funds from good friends and the occasional reward from the French envoy in America. Congress eventually empathized with Thomas Paine by rewarding him a sum of $3000 in cash and New York went a step further by granting him a Loyalist Farm at New Rochelle.

The American Revolutionary War (1775-1783)

It was during this dark period of American history, when Thomas Paine published a pamphlet called “Common Sense” on January 10, 1776 after the revolution broke out in 1775. It further enhanced his reputation as revolutionary propagandist. Confirmed publication sales of the “Common Sense” journal swelled to the tune of around 500,000 copies in 3 months which included sales of pirated versions as well. The whole idea or content of the pamphlet ‘Common Sense’ was resentment against the Crown Monarchy thereby instigating people to do so. Thomas Paine believed America was a superpower, unthinkably unconquerable and free to choose its own government or political system. The pamphlet spread around like wildfire in the streets of America, garnering warranted support and enthusiasm for separation from Great Britain and encouraging recruitment for the domestic continental army.

Again as we discussed earlier, life was more tyrannical for the average American citizen under the sovereign British rule. Thomas Paine expressed ideas of democracy in his acclaimed literary composition, the “Common Sense.” He envisioned principles of democracy, spelt out clear ideas to the common man to strive for a noble democratic cause unlike cynical complex ideas composed by his contemporaries. Scholars laid further claim to proof of evidence and subsequent success that compounded it.

Despite the pamphlet ‘Common Sense’ becoming an overwhelming success with the common masses, it had little impact on the Continental Congress. The pamphlet was unable to influence the Congress’ decision to issue a Declaration of Independence. The content of the pamphlet emphasized more declaration of independence as an impact on the war effort. In brief, Thomas Paine initiated and instigated a public awareness movement about democracy which previously was suppressed for unknown reasons.

The opposition and loyalists during these times released a series of scathing attacks against Thomas Paine. A loyalist in the form of Ms. Marylander James Chambers claimed Thomas Paine to be a political quack and an unknown quantity in political circles. Others instilled fear into people’s minds that without monarchy the government would crumble and end up a failed state. Even some American revolutionaries ridiculed Thomas Paine’s idea of radical democracy. Somewhere in late 1776, Thomas Paine came up with another piece of inspiring literary wonder called the “Crisis”. The motto of this pamphlet was to incite and inspire the Americans in their long lost battles against the British army. This pamphlet further deliberated a noteworthy cause, a wide gulf in reasoning of the honest American citizen as compared to his selfish power hungry provincial counterpart. As an act of integrity and loyalty, the then General George Washington spelt the contents of the “Crisis” pamphlet loud and clear to his fellow soldiers to egg them on.

After the American Revolutionary War

In 1777, Thomas Paine was appointed as Secretary for Foreign Affairs on the Congressional Committee. However, the following year led to his expulsion from the Congress Committee as he was found guilty in a breach of conduct. He confessed to secret negotiations with France in his pamphlets. However in the year 1781 he accompanied John Laurens on his proclaimed revolutionary mission to France. During this period, the Congress and New York state recognized and rewarded him for his political contribution to American society. Thomas Paine was also instrumental in generating funds from France along with John Laurens for helping to initiate and fight the American Revolutionary War. Part of the revolutionary war funding also came about through help of the Bank of North America upon approval by the Congressional Committee, to which Thomas Paine and John Laurens are still credited date. Thomas Paine thereby retired after the American Revolutionary War in 1783 to New Jersey and lived there periodically till he eventually passed away in 1783.

Literary Work, Political, and Religious Views

Besides the highly acclaimed “Common Sense” and “Crisis,” Thomas Paine penned a few other famous pamphlets and journals as well. “Names like Rights of Man,” “The Age of Reason,” “Agrarian Justice,” and “On the Origins of Freemasonry” are some of his other works. Thomas Paine had a democratic outlook on the political front. Experts further state that this democratic nature was inherited by his father. Thomas Paine further never believed in religion or sects but believed in one God. Though he did publish an article on freemasonry, there was no concrete evidence that he was part of the Freemason sect either.

Facts about Thomas Paine 1: the birthplace

The birthplace of Paine was located in Norfolk, England. In 1774, Paine left Britain to the New World. Benjamin Franklin gave him a hand during the migration process. The timing of his arrival was perfect since he could join the American Revolution.

Facts about Thomas Paine 2: the powerful pamphlet

Common Sense was the title of his powerful pamphlet in 1776. It was a bestselling pamphlet, which had been read and listened to by all rebels.

Thomas Paine

Full name Thomas Paine Born 鿫ruary 9, 1737 Thetford, Norfolk, England, Great Britain Died June 8, 1809 (aged 72) New York City Era घth-century philosophy Region Western philosophy School žnlightenment, Liberalism, Radicalism, Republicanism Main interests Religion, Ethics, Politics Influenced by[show] Influenced[show] Signature

Thomas "Tom" Paine (February 9, 1737 [O.S. January 29, 1736[1 – June 8, 1809) was an English 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), that advocated colonial America's independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain, and The American Crisis (1776�), a pro-revolutionary pamphlet series. "Common Sense" was so influential that John Adams said, "Without the pen of the author of 'Common Sense,' the sword of Washington would have been raised in vain.”

Paine lived in France for most of the 1790s, becoming deeply involved in the the French Revolution. He wrote the Rights of Man (1791), in part a defense of the French Revolution against its critics, His attacks on British writer Edmund Burke led to a trial and conviction in absentia for the crime of seditious libel. 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�), his book that advocates deism, promotes reason and freethinking, argues 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.

In 1802 he returned to America where he died on June 8, 1809. Only six people attended his funeral as he had been ostracized due to his ridicule of Christianity. Contents

Early life Old School at Thetford Grammar School, where Paine was educated.

Paine was born February 9, 1737 [O.S. January 29, 1736] the son of Joseph Pain, or Paine, a Quaker, and Frances (nພ Cocke), an Anglican, in Thetford, an important market town and coach stage-post, in rural Norfolk, England.[6] Born Thomas Pain, despite claims that he changed his family name upon his emigration to America in 1774,[7] he was using Paine in 1769, whilst still in Lewes, Sussex.

He attended Thetford Grammar School (1744�), at a time when there was no compulsory education. At age thirteen, he was apprenticed to his stay-maker father in late adolescence, he enlisted and briefly served as a privateer, before returning to Britain in 1759. There, he became a master stay-maker, establishing a shop in Sandwich, Kent. On September 27, 1759, Thomas Paine married Mary Lambert. His business collapsed soon after. Mary became pregnant, and, after they moved to Margate, she went into early labor, in which she and their child died.

In July 1761, Paine returned to Thetford to work as a supernumerary officer. In December 1762, he became an excise officer in Grantham, Lincolnshire in August 1764, he was transferred to Alford, at a salary of ꍐ per annum. On August 27, 1765, he was fired as an Excise Officer for "claiming to have inspected goods he did not inspect." On July 31, 1766, he requested his reinstatement from the Board of Excise, which they granted the next day, upon vacancy. While awaiting that, he worked as a stay maker in Diss, Norfolk, and later as a servant (per the records, for a Mr. Noble, of Goodman's Fields, and for a Mr. Gardiner, at Kensington). He also applied to become an ordained minister of the Church of England and, per some accounts, he preached in Moorfields. Thomas Paine's house in Lewes.

In 1767, he was appointed to a position in Grampound, Cornwall subsequently, he asked to leave this post to await a vacancy, thus, he became a schoolteacher in London. On February 19, 1768, he was appointed to Lewes, East Sussex, living above the fifteenth-century Bull House, the tobacco shop of Samuel Ollive and Esther Ollive.

There, Paine first became involved in civic matters, he appears in the Town Book as a member of the Court Leet, the governing body for the Town. He also was in the influential vestry church group that collected taxes and tithes to distribute among the poor. On March 26, 1771, at age 34, he married Elizabeth Ollive, his landlord's daughter. Plaque at the White Hart Hotel, Lewes, East Sussex, south east England

From 1772 to 1773, Paine joined excise officers asking Parliament for better pay and working conditions, publishing, in summer of 1772, The Case of the Officers of Excise, a twenty-one-page article, and his first political work, spending the London winter distributing the 4,000 copies printed to the Parliament and others. In spring of 1774, he was fired from the excise service for being absent from his post without permission his tobacco shop failed, too. On April 14, to avoid debtor's prison, he sold his household possessions to pay debts. On June 4, he formally separated from wife Elizabeth and moved to London, where, in September, the mathematician, Fellow of the Royal Society, and Commissioner of the Excise George Lewis Scott introduced him to Benjamin Franklin,[13] who suggested emigration to British colonial America, and gave him a letter of recommendation. In October, Thomas Paine emigrated from Great Britain to the American colonies, arriving in Philadelphia on November 30, 1774.

He barely survived the transatlantic voyage. The ship's water supplies were bad, and typhoid fever killed five passengers. On arriving at Philadelphia, he was too sick to debark. Benjamin Franklin's physician, there to welcome Paine to America, had him carried off ship Paine took six weeks to recover his health. He became a citizen of Pennsylvania "by taking the oath of allegiance at a very early period." In January, 1775, he became editor of the Pennsylvania Magazine, a position he conducted with considerable ability.

Paine designed the Sunderland Bridge of 1796 over the Wear River at Wearmouth, England. It was patterned after the model he had made for the Schuylkill River Bridge at Philadelphia in 1787, and the Sunderland arch became the prototype for many subsequent voussoir arches made in iron and steel. He also received a British patent for a single-span iron bridge, developed a smokeless candle, and worked with inventor John Fitch in developing steam engines. [edit] American Revolution Common Sense, published in 1776 [edit] Common Sense (1776) Main article: Common Sense (pamphlet)

Thomas Paine has a claim to the title The Father of the American Revolution because of Common Sense, the pro-independence monograph pamphlet he anonymously published on January 10, 1776 signed "Written by an Englishman", the pamphlet became an immediate success. It quickly spread among the literate, and, in three months, 100,000 copies (estimated 500,000 total including pirated editions sold during the course of the Revolution[19]) sold throughout the American British colonies (with only two million free inhabitants), making it the best-selling American book. Paine's original title for the pamphlet was Plain Truth Paine's friend, pro-independence advocate Benjamin Rush, suggested Common Sense instead.

The pamphlet appeared in January 1776, after the Revolution had started. It was passed around, and often read aloud in taverns, contributing significantly to spreading the idea of republicanism, bolstering enthusiasm for separation from Britain, and encouraging recruitment for the Continental Army. Paine provided a new and convincing argument for independence by advocating a complete break with history. Common Sense is oriented to the future in a way that compels the reader to make an immediate choice. It offers a solution for Americans disgusted and alarmed at the threat of tyranny.

Paine was not expressing original ideas in Common Sense, but rather employing rhetoric as a means to arouse resentment of the Crown. To achieve these ends, he pioneered a style of political writing suited to the democratic society he envisioned, with Common Sense serving as a primary example. Part of Paine's work was to render complex ideas intelligible to average readers of the day, with clear, concise writing unlike the formal, learned style favored by many of Paine's contemporaries. Scholars have put forward various explanations to account for its success, including the historic moment, Paine's easy-to-understand style, his democratic ethos, and his use of psychology and ideology.

Common Sense was immensely popular in disseminating to a very wide audience ideas that were already in common use among the elite who comprised Congress and the leadership cadre of the emerging nation. They rarely cited Paine's arguments in their public calls for independence.[24] The pamphlet probably had little direct influence on the Continental Congress's decision to issue a Declaration of Independence, since that body was more concerned with how declaring independence would affect the war effort. Paine's great contribution was in initiating a public debate about independence, which had previously been rather muted.

Loyalists vigorously attacked Common Sense one attack, titled Plain Truth (1776), by Marylander James Chalmers, said Paine was a political quack and warned that without monarchy, the government would "degenerate into democracy". Even some American revolutionaries objected to Common Sense late in life John Adams called it a "crapulous mass." Adams disagreed with the type of radical democracy promoted by Paine (that men who did not own property should still be allowed to vote and hold public office), and published Thoughts on Government in 1776 to advocate a more conservative approach to republicanism. [edit] Crisis (1776)

In late 1776 Paine published The Crisis pamphlet series, to inspire the Americans in their battles against the British army. He juxtaposed the conflict between the good American devoted to civic virtue and the selfish provincial man. To inspire his soldiers, General George Washington had The American Crisis, first Crisis pamphlet, read aloud to them. It begins:

In 1777, Paine became secretary of the Congressional Committee on Foreign Affairs. The following year, he alluded to continuing secret negotiation with France in his pamphlets the resultant scandal and Paine's conflict with Robert Morris eventually led to Paine's expulsion from the Committee in 1779. However, in 1781, he accompanied John Laurens on his mission to France. Eventually, after much pleading from Paine, New York State recognised his political services by presenting him with an estate, at New Rochelle, New York, and Paine received money from Pennsylvania and from the US Congress at George Washington's suggestion. During the Revolutionary War, Paine served as an aide to the important general, Nathanael Greene. Paine's later years established him as "a missionary of world revolution."

Paine accompanied Col. John Laurens to France and is credited with initiating the mission. It landed in France in March 1781 and returned to America in August with 2.5 million livres in silver, as part of a "present" of 6 million and a loan of 10 million. The meetings with the French king were most likely conducted in the company and under the influence of Benjamin Franklin. Upon returning to the United States with this highly welcomed cargo, Thomas Paine and probably Col. Laurens, "positively objected" that General Washington should propose that Congress remunerate him for his services, for fear of setting "a bad precedent and an improper mode." Paine made influential acquaintances in Paris, and helped organize the Bank of North America to raise money to supply the army. In 1785, he was given $3,000 by the U.S. Congress in recognition of his service to the nation.

Henry Laurens (the father of Col. John Laurens) had been the ambassador to the Netherlands, but he was captured by the British on his return trip there. When he was later exchanged for the prisoner Lord Cornwallis (in late 1781), Paine proceeded to the Netherlands to continue the loan negotiations. There remains some question as to the relationship of Henry Laurens and Thomas Paine to Robert Morris as the Superintendent of Finance and his business associate Thomas Willing who became the first president of the Bank of North America (in Jan. 1782). They had accused Morris of profiteering in 1779 and Willing had voted against the Declaration of Independence. Although Morris did much to restore his reputation in 1780 and 1781, the credit for obtaining these critical loans to "organize" the Bank of North America for approval by Congress in December 1781 should go to Henry or John Laurens and Thomas Paine more than to Robert Morris. In Fashion before Ease —or,— A good Constitution sacrificed for a Fantastick Form (1793), James Gillray caricatured Paine tightening the corset of Britannia protruding from his coat pocket is a measuring tape inscribed "Rights of Man"

Paine bought his only house in 1783 on the corner of Farnsworth Avenue and Church Streets in Bordentown City, New Jersey, and he lived in it periodically until his death in 1809. This is the only place in the world where Paine purchased real estate. [edit] Rights of Man Main article: Rights of Man See also: Revolution Controversy

Having taken work as a clerk after his expulsion by Congress, Paine eventually returned to London in 1787, living a largely private life. However, his passion was again sparked by revolution, this time in France, which he visited in 1790. Edmund Burke, who had supported the American Revolution, did not likewise support the events taking place in France, and wrote the critical Reflections on the Revolution in France, partially in response to a sermon by Richard Price, the radical minister of Newington Green Unitarian Church. Many pens rushed to defend the Revolution and the Dissenting clergyman, including Mary Wollstonecraft, who published A Vindication of the Rights of Men only weeks after the Reflections. Paine wrote Rights of Man, an abstract political tract critical of monarchies and European social institutions. He completed the text on January 29, 1791. On January 31, he gave the manuscript to publisher Joseph Johnson for publication on February 22. Meanwhile, government agents visited him, and, sensing dangerous political controversy, he reneged on his promise to sell the book on publication day Paine quickly negotiated with publisher J.S. Jordan, then went to Paris, per William Blake's advice, leaving three good friends, William Godwin, Thomas Brand Hollis, and Thomas Holcroft, charged with concluding publication in Britain. The book appeared on March 13, three weeks later than scheduled, and sold well.

Undeterred by the government campaign to discredit him, Paine issued his Rights of Man, Part the Second, Combining Principle and Practice in February 1792. It detailed a representative government with enumerated social programs to remedy the numbing poverty of commoners through progressive tax measures. Radically reduced in price to ensure unprecedented circulation, it was sensational in its impact and gave birth to reform societies. An indictment for seditious libel followed, for both publisher and author, while government agents followed Paine and instigated mobs, hate meetings, and burnings in effigy. The authorities aimed, with ultimate success, to chase Paine out of Great Britain. He was then tried in absentia, found guilty though never executed.

In summer of 1792, he answered the sedition and libel charges thus: "If, to expose the fraud and imposition of monarchy . to promote universal peace, civilization, and commerce, and to break the chains of political superstition, and raise degraded man to his proper rank if these things be libellous . let the name of libeller be engraved on my tomb".

Paine was an enthusiastic supporter of the French Revolution, and was granted, along with Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and others, honorary French citizenship. Despite his inability to speak French, he was elected to the National Convention, representing the district of Pas-de-Calais. He voted for the French Republic but argued against the execution of Louis XVI, saying that he should instead be exiled to the United States: firstly, because of the way royalist France had come to the aid of the American Revolution and secondly because of a moral objection to capital punishment in general and to revenge killings in particular. He participated to the Constitution Committee that drafted the Girondin constitutional project.[35]

Regarded as an ally of the Girondins, he was seen with increasing disfavor by the Montagnards who were now in power, and in particular by Robespierre. A decree was passed at the end of 1793 excluding foreigners from their places in the Convention (Anacharsis Cloots was also deprived of his place). Paine was arrested and imprisoned in December 1793. [edit] The Age of Reason Title page from the first English edition of Part I Main article: The Age of Reason

Before his arrest and imprisonment in France, knowing that he would probably be arrested and executed, Paine, following in the tradition of early eighteenth-century British deism, wrote the first part of The Age of Reason, an assault on organized "revealed" religion combining a compilation of inconsistencies he found in the Bible with his own advocacy of deism, calling for "free rational inquiry" into all subjects, especially religion. The Age of Reason critique on institutionalized religion resulted in only a brief upsurge in deistic thought in America, but Paine was derided by the public and abandoned by his friends.

Arrested in France, Paine protested and claimed that he was a citizen of America, which was an ally of Revolutionary France, rather than of Great Britain, which was by that time at war with France. However, Gouverneur Morris, the American ambassador to France, did not press his claim, and Paine later wrote that Morris had connived at his imprisonment. Paine thought that George Washington had abandoned him, and he was to quarrel with Washington for the rest of his life. Years later he wrote a scathing open letter to Washington, accusing him of private betrayal of their friendship and public hypocrisy as general and president, and concluding the letter by saying "the world will be puzzled to decide whether you are an apostate or an impostor whether you have abandoned good principles or whether you ever had any."

While in prison, Paine narrowly escaped execution. He kept his head and survived the few vital days needed to be spared by the fall of Robespierre on 9 Thermidor (July 27, 1794). Oil painting by Laurent Dabos, circa 1791

Paine was released in November 1794 largely because of the work of the new American Minister to France, James Monroe, who successfully argued the case for Paine's American citizenship. In July 1795, he was re-admitted into the Convention, as were other surviving Girondins. Paine was one of only three députés to oppose the adoption of the new 1795 constitution, because it eliminated universal suffrage, which had been proclaimed by the Montagnard Constitution of 1793.

In 1797, Tom Paine lived in Paris with Nicholas Bonneville and his wife, Margaret. Paine, as well as Bonneville's other controversial guests, aroused the suspicions of authorities. Bonneville hid the Royalist Antoine Joseph Barruel-Beauvert at his home and employed him as a proofreader. Beauvert had been outlawed following the coup of 18 Fructidor on September 4, 1797. Paine believed that America, under John Adams, had betrayed revolutionary France. Bonneville was then briefly jailed and his presses were confiscated, which meant financial ruin.

In 1800, still under police surveillance, Bonneville took refuge with his father in Evreux. Paine stayed on with him, helping Bonneville with the burden of translating the Covenant Sea. The same year, Paine purportedly had a meeting with Napoleon. Napoleon claimed he slept with a copy of Rights of Man under his pillow and went so far as to say to Paine that "a statue of gold should be erected to you in every city in the universe." Paine discussed with Napoleon how best to invade England and in December 1797 wrote two essays, one of which was pointedly named Observations on the Construction and Operation of Navies with a Plan for an Invasion of England and the Final Overthrow of the English Government, in which he promoted the idea to finance 1000 gunboats to carry a French invading army across the English Channel. In 1804 Paine returned to the subject, writing To the People of England on the Invasion of England advocating the idea.

On noting Napoleon's progress towards dictatorship, he condemned him as: "the completest charlatan that ever existed". Thomas Paine remained in France until 1802, returning to the United States only at President Jefferson's invitation. [edit] Later years

In 1802 or 1803, Tom Paine left France for the United States, paying passage also for Bonneville's wife, Marguerite Brazier and their three sons, seven year old Benjamin, Louis, and Thomas, of whom Paine was godfather. Paine returned to the US in the early stages of the Second Great Awakening and a time of great political partisanship. The Age of Reason gave ample excuse for the religiously devout to dislike him, and the Federalists attacked him for his ideas of government stated in Common Sense, for his association with the French Revolution, and for his friendship with President Jefferson. Also still fresh in the minds of the public was his Letter to Washington, published six years before his return.

Upon his return to America, Paine penned 'On the Origins of Freemasonry.' Nicholas Bonneville printed the essay in French. It was not printed in English until 1810, when Marguerite posthumously published his essay, which she had culled from among his papers, as a pamphlet containing an edited version wherein she omitted his references to the Christian religion. The document was published in English in its entirety in New York in 1918.

Brazier took care of Paine at the end of his life and buried him on his death on June 8, 1809. In his will, Paine left the bulk of his estate to Marguerite, including 100 acres (40.5 ha) of his farm so she could maintain and educate Benjamin and his brother Thomas. In 1810, The fall of Napoleon finally allowed Bonneville to rejoin his wife in the United States where he remained for four years before returning to Paris to open a bookshop. Plaque at Paine's original burial location in New Rochelle, New York

Paine died at the age of 72, at 59 Grove Street in Greenwich Village, New York City on the morning of June 8, 1809. Although the original building is no longer there, the present building has a plaque noting that Paine died at this location.

After his death, Paine's body was brought to New Rochelle, but no Christian church would receive it for burial, so his remains were buried under a walnut tree on his farm. In 1819, the English agrarian radical journalist William Cobbett dug up his bones and transported them back to England, with plans for English democrats to give Paine a heroic reburial on his native soil, but this never came to pass. The bones were still among Cobbett's effects when he died over twenty years later, but were later lost. There is no confirmed story about what happened to them after that, although down the years various people have claimed to own parts of Paine's remains, such as his skull and right hand.

At the time of his death, most American newspapers reprinted the obituary notice from the New York Citizen, which read in part: "He had lived long, did some good and much harm." Only six mourners came to his funeral, two of whom were black, most likely freedmen. The writer and orator Robert G. Ingersoll wrote:

Thomas Paine's natural justice beliefs may have been influenced by his Quaker father.[50] In The Age of Reason – his treatise supporting deism – he says:

Later, his encounters with the Indigenous peoples of the Americas made a deep impression. The ability of the Iroquois to live in harmony with nature while achieving a democratic decision making process, helped him refine his thinking on how to organize society.

In the second part of The Age of Reason, about his sickness in prison, he says: ". I was seized with a fever, that, in its progress, had every symptom of becoming mortal, and from the effects of which I am not recovered. It was then that I remembered, with renewed satisfaction, and congratulated myself most sincerely, on having written the former part of 'The Age of Reason'". This quotation encapsulates its gist:

Portrait of Thomas Paine by Matthew Pratt, 1785�

Paine is often credited with writing "African Slavery in America", the first article proposing the emancipation of African slaves and the abolition of slavery. It was published on March 8, 1775 in the Postscript to the Pennsylvania Journal and Weekly Advertiser (aka The Pennsylvania Magazine and American Museum).[52] Citing a lack of evidence that Paine was the author of this anonymously published essay, some scholars (Eric Foner and Alfred Owen Aldridge) no longer consider this one of his works. By contrast, John Nichols speculates that his "fervent objections to slavery" led to his exclusion from power during the early years of the Republic.[53][dubious – discuss]

His last pamphlet, Agrarian Justice, published in the winter of 1795, further developed his ideas in the Rights of Man, about how land ownership separated the majority of people from their rightful, natural inheritance, and means of independent survival. The US Social Security Administration recognizes Agrarian Justice as the first American proposal for an old-age pension per Agrarian Justice:

Note that ꌐ and ꌕ would be worth about 򣠀 and ਱,200 when adjusted for inflation. [edit] Religious views

About religion, The Age of Reason says:

Though there is no evidence he was himself a Freemason,[55] Paine also wrote "An Essay on the Origin of Free-Masonry" (1803�), about the Bible being allegorical myth describing astrology:

He described himself as deist, saying:

and again, in The Age of Reason:

[edit] Legacy In 1969, a Prominent Americans series stamp honoring Paine was issued.

Thomas Paine's writing greatly influenced his contemporaries and, especially, the American revolutionaries. His books provoked only a brief upsurge in Deism in America, but in the long term inspired philosophic and working-class radicals in the UK, and US liberals, libertarians, feminists, democratic socialists, social democrats, anarchists, freethinkers, and progressives often claim him as an intellectual ancestor. Paine's critique on institutionalized religion and advocation of rational thinking influenced many British freethinkers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, such as William Cobbett, George Holyoake, Charles Bradlaugh and Bertrand Russell.

The quote "Lead, follow, or get out of the way" is widely but incorrectly attributed to Paine. This can be found nowhere in his published works[citation needed]. [edit] Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln's law partner, William Herndon, reports that Lincoln wrote a defense of Paine's deism in 1835, and friend Samuel Hill burned it to save Lincoln's political career.[56] Historian Roy Basler, the editor of Lincoln's papers, said Paine had a strong influence on Lincoln's style:

The inventor Thomas Edison said:

The first and longest standing memorial to Thomas Paine is the carved and inscribed 12 foot marble column in New Rochelle, New York organized and funded by publisher, educator and reformer Gilbert Vale (1791�) and raised in 1839 by the American sculptor and architect James Frazee—The Thomas Paine Monument (see image below).[59] New Rochelle is also the original site of Paine's 300 acre farm, confiscated by the State of New York from the Tory and monarchist Frederick Davoe and awarded to Paine for his services in the American Revolution.[60] The same site is the home of the Thomas Paine Museum, whose holdings—the subject of a sell-off controversy—were temporarily relocated to the New York Historical Society and are now safely and more permanently archived in the Iona College Library.

In England a statue of Paine, quill pen and inverted copy of Rights of Man in hand, stands in King Street, Thetford, Norfolk, his birth place. Moreover, in Thetford, the Sixth form is named after him. Thomas Paine was ranked #34 in the 100 Greatest Britons 2002 extensive Nationwide poll conducted by the BBC

Bronx Community College includes Paine in its Hall of Fame of Great Americans, and there are statues of Paine in Morristown and Bordentown, New Jersey, and in the Parc Montsouris, in Paris.

Also in Paris, there is a plaque in the street where he lived from 1797 to 1802, that says: "Thomas PAINE / 1737� / Englishman by birth / American by adoption / French by decree".

Yearly, between July 4 and 14, the Lewes Town Council in the United Kingdom celebrates the life and work of Thomas Paine.

Watch the video: Christopher Hitchens on Thomas Paines Rights of Man 14