Thomas Paine

Play me as you read


Born: January 29, 1737
Height: 5,9
Occupation: Radical propagandist and voice of the common man, journalist, and revolutionary
Hometown : Thetford, England
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Man who helped my future: Benjamin Franklin
"These are the times that try men's souls."
About Me:
On January 29, 1737, I was born in Thetford, England. My father, a corseter, had grand visions for me, but by the age of 12, I had failed out of school. I began apprenticing for my father, but again, I failed. So, when I was age 19, I set out to sea where I became a tax officer in England. I didn't exactly excel at the role, getting discharged from my post twice in four years, but as an inkling of what was to come, I published "The Case of the Officers of Excise (1772)", arguing for a pay raise for officers. In 1774, by happenstance, I met wise Benjamin Franklin in London, who helped me emigrate to Philadelphia. My career turned to journalism while in Philadelphia, and suddenly, I became very important. In 1776, I published "Common Sense", a strong defense of American Independence from England. I traveled with the Continental Army and wasn't a success as a soldier, but I produced "The Crisis (1776-83)", which helped inspire the Army. But, instead of continuing to help the Revolutionary cause, I returned to Europe and pursued other ventures, including working on a smokeless candle and an iron bridge. In 1791-92, I wrote "The Rights of Man" in response to criticism of the French Revolution. This work caused me to be labeled an outlaw in England for my anti-monarchist views. By 1793, I was imprisoned in France for not endorsing the execution of Louis XVI. During my imprisonment, I wrote and distributed the first part of what was to become my most famous work at the time, the anti-church text, "The Age of Reason (1794-96)". I was freed in 1794 (narrowly escaping execution) thanks to the efforts of James Monroe, then U.S. Minister to France. I remained in France until 1802 when I returned to America on an invitation from Thomas Jefferson. I discovered that my contributions to the American Revolution had been all but eradicated due to my religious views.

Activity Timeline:

• The Case of the Officers of Excise (1772)
This was Thomas Paine's first political publication, which demanded better pay and working conditions for his fellow excise officers.

• Common Sense (1776)
This challenged the authority of the British government and the royal monarchy. The plain language that Paine used spoke to the common people of America and was the first work to openly ask for independence from Great Britain.

• The Crisis ( Paine during the American Revolutionary War. The essays collected here constitute my ongoing support for an independent and self-governing America through the many severe crises of the Revolutionary War. General Washington found the first essay so inspiring, he ordered that it be read to the troops at Valley Forge.

• The Rights of Man (1791-92)
Paine's reply to an attack on the French Revolution by Edmund Burke.

• Age of Reason (1794, 1795, 1807)
Paine's original work was published in two parts in 1794 and 1795, titled Part First and Part II, and it sold very well in America. Part III was completed in the late 1790's, but Thomas Jefferson convinced Paine not to publish it in 1802, aware of the possible reprisals. Five years later Paine decided to publish despite the backlash he knew would ensue. It did not sell well.

Recent Uploads:
The Case of the Officers of Excise

Common Sense Pamphlet


Rights of Man

Age of Reason by Thomas Paine


Recent Post:

Elizabeth Hancock

Derided by the public and abandoned by his friends, he died on June 8, 1809 at the age of 72 in New York City.

U.S History
The Founding Father Thomas Paine's The Crisis not only describes the beginnings of the American Revolution, but also the life of Paine himself. Throughout most of his life, his writings inspired passion, but also brought him great criticism. He communicated the ideas of the Revolution to common farmers as easily as to intellectuals, creating prose that stirred the hearts of the fledgling United States. He had a grand vision for society: he was staunchly anti-slavery, and he was one of the first to advocate a world peace organization and social security for the poor and elderly. But his radical views on religion would destroy his success, and by the end of his life, only a handful of people attended his funeral.

The Anarchist Library

To argue with a man who has renounced his reason is like giving medicine to the dead. The more perfect civilization is, the less occasion has it for government because the more does it regulate its own affairs, and govern itself; but so contrary is the practice of old governments to the reason of the case, that the expenses of them increase in the proportion they ought to diminish. It is but few general laws that civilized life requires, and those of such common usefulness, that — whether they are enforced by the forms of government or not, the effect will be nearly the same. If we consider what the principles are that first condense man into society, and what the motives that regulate their mutual intercourse afterwards, we shall find, by the time we arrive at what is called government, that nearly the whole of the business is performed by the natural operation of the parts upon each other. Society in every state is a blessing, but government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one. The trade of governing has always been monopolized by the most ignorant and the most rascally individuals of mankind.