He was a philosopher, poor excuse for a solder, and author of one of the most widely read documents in American history. Thomas Paine was one of the more radical members of the intellectuals behind the American revolution, calling for independence in Common Sense long before anyone else was by using enlightenment notions of the rights of the ruled.
After the American revolution he moved to France, where he served in the national convention and helped to draft the first constitution of the French Republic-despite not speaking French. He published the book Agrarian Justice, which re-introduced the idea of the basic income to western thought. He also defended the French Revolution against Burke in the book The Rights of Man, in which he also proposed a state funded old age pension.
Interesting Facts About Thomas Paine
- Thomas Paine was born in England in 1737. He failed in school and later became a tax collector. He was fired twice from this job. He came to America in 1774 and studied journalism.
- Paine joined the Continental Army, but wasn’t a very successful soldier. Then he wrote a short political pamphlet, Common Sense, which urged Americans to seek freedom from Great Britain.
- Paine’s writing was simple and easy to understand. Americans hadn’t been thinking about independence from Great Britain, but Paine’s writing inspired them. More than 150,000 copies were sold in just a few months.
- George Washington used Paine’s words to rally troops. He said, “These are the times that try men’s souls. Tyranny, like Hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”
- Paine wrote papers against organized religion, which made him very unpopular.
- He was thrown in prison and almost executed in France for his political views during the French Revolution.
- Only six people attended his funeral when he died in 1809. Many had abandoned him as an ‘atheist’ for his ridicule of the Bible and organised religion.
Quotes By Thomas Paine
- These are the times that try men’s souls.
- The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.
- The real man smiles in trouble, gathers strength from distress, and grows brave by reflection.
- If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace.
- Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.
- What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value.
- My country is the world, and my religion is to do good.
- Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.
- To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.
- The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.