Thomas Paine

Who was Thomas Paine?

Thomas Paine was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He was popular as a writer and revolutionary who wrote some of the most widely published and read pamphlets at the time of the American Revolution. His pamphlets were instrumental in rallying mass support for the call of independence.

Role in the American Revolution

Thomas Paine was born in Britain and remained in the country until his 40s. Even while he lived at Britain, he was known for his support of revolutionary ideas. He was also friends with Benjamin Franklin. When the American Revolutionary War broke out, Paine asked Franklin to help him come to the United States. In this way, he arrived in North America in 1774 at a time when tensions were very high between the Thirteen Colonies and the British government.

By 1775, the revolutionary war had started. However, many people still thought that Americans could negotiate peace with the British monarch and continue to live as British subjects. This sentiment began to change when the King refused to pardon the revolutionaries or attempt any peace efforts. This was when Thomas Paine penned his pamphlet titled ‘Common Sense’. This pamphlet would become the most popular and widely read publication of the time.

Common Sense

In Common Sense, Paine argued that the Thirteen Colonies should try to gain complete independence from Britain. Paine passionately wrote against the rule of the monarchs and claimed that the American colonies were never destined to be ruled by the British monarchy.

One of the quotes from the pamphlet reads, ‘Even at the distance at which the Almighty hath placed England and America, is a strong and natural proof, that the authority of the one, over the other, was never the design of Heaven.

The time likewise at which the continent was discovered, adds weight to the argument, and the manner in which it was people increases the force for it. The reformation was preceded by the discovery of America, as if the Almighty graciously meant to open a sanctuary to the persecuted in the future years, when home should afford neither friendship nor safety.’

Role in the American Revolution

‘Common Sense’ became an overnight sensation. It was read all over the Thirteen Colonies, published in newspaper, and read aloud in the taverns and on the pavements. It decisively persuaded the majority to support a bid for complete independence, where many people were previously ambivalent about it. Paine then wrote ‘American Crisis’, another pamphlet that greatly motivated the Americans in their military conflict with Great Britain.

Paine and the French Revolution

After his role in the American Revolution, Paine traveled to London at a time when the French Revolution was in full swing. He actively supported the Revolution and wrote in favor of it. He was later made an honorary member of the revolutionary government and remained in Paris during the tumultuous period of the revolution. When Robespierre took over the reins of the Revolution, Paine was imprisoned. He was later released and returned to United States in 1802 where he died in 1809.

Complete Works of Thomas Paine: Containing all his Political and Theological Writings ; Preceded by a Life of Paine Hardcover – August 8, 2015

Learn more about Thomas Paine at wikipedia