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In September of 1776, on the outskirts of Newark, among the tired,
discouraged, soldiers, as they paused from their daily retreat, sat Thomas Paine.
He wrote many papers that would have a major effect on the outcome of the quest
for independence. Born the son of a Quaker Laymaker on January 29th, 1737 at
Thetford, Norfolk England. He received a basic elementary education, and started
to work for his father as an apprentice, and later as an excise officer. He was
not a huge success at either, and was in fact fired twice from the job as an
excise officer. When he arrived in Philadelphia on November 30th 1774,
he was sick and feverish, and had to be carried on a stretcher. With a letter of
recommendation from Ben Franklin, he was accepted into a hospital and given
special care, until he recovered. With that same letter from Ben Franklin, he
found many doors opened for him, including jobs tutoring many of the sons of the
wealthiest men in Philadelphia.
Paine started over again, by publishing African Slavery In America, in
the spring of 1775, in which he criticized slavery in America as being unjust
and inhumane. At about this same time, he became the co-editor for the
Pennsylvania Magazine. When he arrived in Philadelphia, Paine noticed the
tension, and the rebellious attitude, that was continually getting larger, after
the Boston Tea Party.
In Paine\'s opinion, the Colonies had all the right to revolt against a
government that imposed taxes on them, and which did not give them the right of
representation in the Parliament at Westminster. Then he went one massive step
further, he decided there was no reason for the Colonies to stay dependent on
England. He published his opinions in the American independence pamphlet Common
In Common Sense Paine states that sooner or later Independence from
England must come, because America had lost touch with the mother country. He
felt that the function of government in society was to only be a regulator, and
thus pretty simple. His strong beliefs made him a major influence on the
Declaration Of Independence.
He joined General Washington in his battle against General Howe in the
War of Independence. Where he motivated many downhearted soldiers who needed
reassurance. The retreating of General Washington\'s army was a slow, daily
affair. Being an Englishman himself, Paine knew that the British enemy, would
not take the Revolutionary Army seriously and was familiar with tactics of the
English Army, and could advise the Revolutionary Army of what was to be expected.
The English were polite in the way that they did not attack at night. They were
slow to rise in the mornings, and early to retire for the evenings. Their
strategy on the battlefield was very formal and exact. The English would march
in tight ranks, which was perfect for European battles, but senseless in the New
World, where they would easily be taken out by Revolutionary sharpshooters. The
bright red military uniforms that they wore looked great, but made them extra
easy targets, in the misty New England days. While under General Washington\'s
command, Paine started work on the first of his American Crisis papers, which
were later published between the years of 1776 and 1783 In these papers he wrote
of how Americans must be willing to give it their all… "These are the times that
try men\'s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot, will, in this
crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now,
deserves the love and thanks of man and woman." He also wrote of how the
Americans would not win easily, for if they did, they would not respect it with
the respect if they had a hard time overcoming it. "Tyranny, like hell, is not
easily conquered… What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly."
In 1787 Thomas Paine left for England, when the French Revolution broke out.
Originally intending to raise money for a bridge he was building, Paine was
sidetracked and became deeply involved in the French Revolution. He began
publishing The Rights Of Man in which he defended the Revolution and attacked
the English monarch. His book was banned in England, naturally, and he was to be
arrested, but was not on account he had left for France. When he returned to
America in 1802, under invitation by Thomas Jefferson, he learned that he was
considered a hindrance to America, or altogether forgotten. He died on June 8,
1809 in New York City, from dropsy. Truly Thomas Paine was the Most
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Age of Enlightenment, American Revolution, Pamphlets, Thomas Paine, Common Sense, Paine, Rights of Man, United States Declaration of Independence, Thetford, Patriot, Natural and legal rights, The American Crisis
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