Founding Father: Thomas Paine
Unlike many other American Patriots, Thomas Paine was not born in America. He was born in on January 29, 1737, in Thetford, England. Thomas Paine’s father made a living making corsets. Thomas Paine attended Thetford Grammar school but flunked out at the age of 12. When he was 13, he helped his father at the corset shop, but he was not good at that either. At the age of 19, Thomas Paine went to sea.
During these voyages, Thomas Paine realized that he did not want to live that life either. He ended up back in England where he began working as a tax officer. Unfortunately, over four years he was fired twice. However, he published an article in a very influential paper about how military officers should be given raises. However, everyone ignored this appeal.
Thomas Paine’s Trip to America
Two years later, Thomas Paine met Benjamin Franklin. Franklin helped him go to America. The two men both shared a passion for writing, and Thomas Paine was inspired both by Benjamin Franklin as well as the upcoming revolution in America.
Thomas Paine’s first work of writing was African Slavery in America, which disapproved of slavery. A year later, Thomas Paine wrote his most famous work, Common Sense. In this paper, Thomas Paine argued for the colonies’ independence from the British, saying that any government that denies its subject representation should be replaced. Common Sense was read by many people.
Thomas Paine became so passionate by his own words that he joined the Continental Army. He found out once more that he was not very good at something; in this case, it was being a soldier. Thomas Paine kept serving with the army, but he started to write a pamphlet called “The Crisis” which described the American need and cause for independence. The Crisis was so popular that by the time the Revolutionary War, Thomas Paine’s name was just as well known as George Washington’s.
Thomas Paine’s Return to England
After the United States began to function as a country, Thomas Paine returned to Europe where he tried to be an inventor. A few years later, the French Revolution began. Thomas Paine supported the French revolutionaries. He wrote “The Rights of Man” to defend the revolution. Because England was worried about Paine supporting another revolution, they outlawed him and ordered his arrest.
Paine ran away to France to join the Revolution. After King Louis XVI was killed, Thomas Paine disagreed with the killing, which made the public dislike him. He was then thrown in prison but was freed in 1794 by the United States Minister to France.
Thomas Paine stayed in France until 1802. He then accepted an offer from President Thomas Jefferson to go back to America. Thomas Paine continued to write articles, many of which went against the beliefs of the Federalists. Thomas Paine died on June 8, 1809, by himself in New York City.
Fun Facts about Thomas Paine
• Thomas Paine was married twice, but he never had any children that lived to adulthood.
• Only six people went to his funeral, and two of these people were former slaves.
• In 1792, he helped write the Constitution for the Republic of France.