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American Writers: a journey through history is a permanent archive for educators, researchers and every one interested in the writers featured in the  C‑SPAN series.


Chapter I






Born: January 29, 1737 - Thetford, Norfolk, England
Died: June 8, 1809 - New York, New York

After an early life of failed prospects in England, Paine arrived in Philadelphia in 1774, where he helped edit the Pennsylvania Magazine. He also published numerous articles anonymously.

In January 1776 he wrote his famous Common
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Thomas Paine, Common Sense
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Sense,
a 50-page pamphlet eloquently advocating independence. Over 500,000 copies were quickly sold, and Paine's fiery eloquence greatly strengthened the colonists' resolve.

During the American Revolution, while serving as an aide to Gen. Nathanael Greene, he began writing his 16 Crisis papers (1776-83), signed "Common Sense." The first paper, beginning "These are the times that try men's souls," was ordered by Gen. George Washington to be read to the dispirited troops at Valley Forge and reignited their will to fight.

Works by Thomas Paine
Common Sense (1776)
The Age of Reason (1794, 1796)
The Crisis Papers (1776-83)
Dissertations on Government, The Affairs of the Bank, and Paper Money
Public Good
The Rights of Man (1791-92)

In 1787 Paine returned to England, where he became involved in the debate over the French Revolution. The Rights of Man (1791-92), written in defense of republicanism, was seen as an attack on the monarchy and he was indicted for treason. He escaped to France, where he was made an honorary French citizen, but his criticism of the Reign of Terror sent him to prison. Released in 1794, he wrote The Age of Reason (1794, 1796), which attacked organized religion and supported deism.

In 1802 Paine returned to the United States. Criticized for his deist writings and little remembered for his service to the Revolution, he died in poverty.

Web sites about Thomas Paine
Thomas Paine National Historical Association
Friends of Thomas Paine


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