Paine Thomas 1737 - 1809 (72)

The World is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.


The Age

of Reason

Common Sense

Thomas Paine (February 9, 1737 – June 8, 1809) was an English-born American political activist, philosopher, and revolutionary. One of the Founding Fathers of the United States, he authored the two most influential pamphlets at the start of the American Revolution inspiring the 1776 declaration of independence from Britain. He was born in Thetford, a small town in East England. Before finishing high school, he enlisted and briefly served as a privateer; he returned to Britain in 1759 and established a shop in Sandwich, Kent. His business soon collapsed and in 1759 he married Mary Lambert who died with their baby during birth.

In the following year he did various jobs, he even tried to become a priest. In 1771 he remarried and in 1772, while working as a tax collector, his colleagues convinced him to write a text requesting higher wages and better working conditions; so he did and created a 20-page brochure, his first political work. In 1773 he opened a tobacco shop; in 1774 he divorced and moved to London. There he met Benjamin Franklin, who was impressed by his writing and urged him to go to find his fortune into the colony of England, America. On the voyage, Paine almost died from typhoon but he finally arrived in Philadelphia with Franklin's letter of recommendation in his pocket.

In 1775 he worked as the editor-in-chief for a magazine at the time of the colonists' conflict with the English and he wrote the "Common Sense", in which for the first time appeared in writing the creation of independent United States of America. The book became America's most popular of the 18th century and the fuse of the American Revolution. On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was announced, with the colonies no longer recognizing any subordinate to the English crown. Paine was determined to fight for the cause but Washington himself told him that America needed him to write, not to fight. He wrote a series of brochures describing the events of the time. In 1777 he became Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the Congress Committee and the following years took part in the US negotiations with France. In 1785, the US government gave him a land estate in New York in recognition of his services. In 1787 he returned to England and lived for some years with scientific interests, working on locomotives and designing bridges. In 1790 he was in France, a warm supporter of the French revolution that had already begun. He completed and published the political book "Rights of man", which was so critical of the European monarchies and the existing social institutions that the British Government condemned him so that he would never be able to return to his birthplace. In 1793, he was arrested and imprisoned by his political opponents in France who had taken power. He remained in prison until November 1794, when he was liberated thanks to the efforts of the US Secretary of State. Shortly before his imprisonment he had written the first part of the "Age of Logic", he completed it and published it in 1795. The reactions were fierce as he had attacked the organized religion and the established social structure. He returned to America in 1802 and continued to write books on various subjects, shaking the waters and making enemies. He died poor and marginalized on June 8, 1809, in Greenwich Village, New York. The church didn’t allow to be buried in a graveyard so his remains were buried under a walnut tree on his farm. There were 6 people at his burying.