Thomas Paine was born on January 29th, 1736, in Thetford, England. While his father was a Quaker, his mother was Anglican. The family was middle-class. Thomas received some formal education. Yet, at the age of 13, his father brought him from school to help him as a stay-maker. Hence, making ropes for ships.
Paine dreamed of the Navy. At first, his father prevented him from doing so. However, at the age of nineteen, he served on a ship for one year. The following years were of ups and downs for Paine. In 1774, he met Benjamin Franklin, who persuaded him to emigrate to the USA.
On November 30th, 1774, Thomas Paine arrived in Philadelphia. He began to work as a journalist. Further, the atmosphere after his arrival was tense. A conflict between the Colonists and the UK, his home nation, was set to erupt.
On January 10th, 1776, he published a pamphlet called Common Sense. There, he called for American Independence and an armed revolt. The reason for that was simple, common sense. Hence, he boosted the mood of Americans. Besides, he also wrote a series of uplifting pieces called The American Crisis, which targeted to support the soldiers.
Between 1777 and 1779, he worked as a secretary to the Committee for Foreign Affairs. In 1787, he returned to Europe. His most famous work, The Rights of Man, came as a reaction to Edmund Burke. Burke believed that the French Revolution would fail. On the other hand, Paine supported it. He advocated for republicanism and better treatment of the poor, weak, and old.
Besides, he actively took part in the revolution. However, he only narrowly escaped a death sentence. He released The Age Of Reason in 1795, where he attacked the Bible. Letter to George Washington accused his former friend, the first American president, of corruption. As a result of these two writings, his earlier popularity faded.
Thomas Paine died seven years after his return to the USA, on June 8th, 1809, in New York City. A sometimes forgotten Founding Father inspired many including the American public, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Mary Wollstonecraft, but also some early socialists.
“These are the times that try men’s souls.“Thomas Paine