Who is Thomas Paine? Most people believe him to be the man that conjured up the famous pamphlet Common Sense. Some people may also say that he was a hero and was the difference between the Continental Army staying together or falling apart. These points are valid, but who is really Thomas Paine?
Before Thomas came to the colonies, he had a large resume of jobs. Each of these led to failure and boredom by the anxious nature of his personality. He needed to do something that would turn his career around and lead him to perpetual recognition. He saw his opportunity in the riled up cooking-pot that was America. With the help of Benjamin Franklin (who was still in England at the time) he set sail for Philadelphia.
After about a year, Paine found what he was looking for. Common Sense became known to the people In January 1776, and it spread like wildfire. From tavern to tavern and fort to fort, people read and listened to the mighty words of this simple but important pamphlet. After spending first-hand time with Continental Soldiers and experiencing the turbulent status of things himself (as a soldier), he knew it was time to do something. With a pen and his mind, he opened the eyes of many colonists.
In less than eight months, independence was declared and thirteen colonies became United States in a place called America. The end of 1776 would prove to be a dark time for General George Washington and his army, but Paine would once again raise his pen in defiance of Britain.
By December 1776, when many soldiers commissions were up, Thomas Paine had published one pamphlet in a series of many called The American Crisis. George Washington had it read aloud to his soldiers in preparation for the upcoming year and in hope that it would keep more of his struggling regulars in contract. It worked. After the reading of the fiery words, Washington commenced the Battle of Trenton on December 26, 1776, a highly successful victory for the Continental Army and Washington’s reputation in general.
Paine would go on to be a key figure in American foreign affairs, mainly with the French. His years after the Revolution consisted of more bold pamphlets. Some of his writing became very controversial and hurtful to his figure; mainly work that denounced Christianity and endorsed reason and free thinking.
Thomas Paine left a legacy that for centuries would be debated and fought over by historians around the globe. Some people found his contributions little and irrational, others found them heroic and important. A large cloud of mystery still surrounds this man. One of the largest questions about him is his role in Freemasonry and the Illuminati. Some of his most controversial work was associated, by many historians, as being part of his connection to Freemasons.
Paine spent most of the 1790s in France and became deeply involved with the French Revolution. At one point he was imprisoned. Some of his most serious writing took place in France; as a staunch supporter of liberty and justice for the people.
He came back to America in 1802 and died at the age of 72 in 1809. Only six people attended his funeral because of his radical ideas. (Mostly because of his earlier rejection of the validity of Christianity.)
Thomas Paine was a free thinker and largely swayed by Enlightenment ideas. The reason you don’t see a statue of Thomas in some major city is because he was just too radical. Most say he was a brilliant thinker with many good ideas; he was just born into the wrong era for such opinions. Many historical geeks can agree on at least two things, though. He was smart and he was bold. In my personal opinion, this is one of the many men that deserve recognition for creating this country and shaping its foundations.
Paine, Thomas “The American Crisis”” Heritage of American Literature Beginnings to the Civil War. Editor-James E. Miller, Jr., Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Collage Publisher, 1991
Alison. “Thomas Paine’s Influence on the American Revolution.” Sons of the American Revolution. Connecticut (CT) Sons of the American Revolution, n.d. Web. 28 Aug. 2013.