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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

William Samuel Johnson


John F. Kennedy
John Langdon
John Lansing Jr.
Richard Henry Lee
Robert E. Lee
Daniel Leonard
Abraham Lincoln

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.

William Livingston
John Locke
James Madison
John Marshall
Luther Martin
George Mason
James McClurg
James McHenry
John Francis Mercer
Thomas Mifflin
Gouverneur Morris
Robert Morris
Lord North
Thomas Paine
William Paterson
William Leigh Pierce
Charles Pinckney
Charles Cotesworth Pinckney
Edmund Randolph
George Read
Ronald Reagan
John Rutledge
Roger Sherman
Adam Smith
Richard Dobbs Spaight Sr.
Edwin McMasters Stanton
Caleb Strong
Peter Stuyvesant
William Howard Taft
George Washington
Hugh Williamson

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.

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.
External link
Thomas Paine - a freethinker

James Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
George Wythe
Robert Yates

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