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Thomas Paine

Born February 9, 1737
Thetford, Norfolk, Great Britain
Died June 8, 1809
New York City, USA

A man who had an impact on both the American and French Revolutions.

His father was a Quaker, his mother, Anglican. Paine’s modest upbringing had little formal education. He worked for a period as an officer of the excise, trying to collect taxes. Paine suffered a few professional failures and personal tragedy in 1760 as both his wife and child died at childbirth. Shortly after, his business of making stay ropes (thick rope stays used on sailing ships) went under. Paine’s life changed forever when he met Benjamin Franklin, purely by chance, who was in England on a visit. Franklin suggested Paine move to America to begin a new life. Paine took Franklins’ advice and letters of introduction and moved to America in 1774.

Key Works

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Common Sense

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The general concepts of Common Sense flowed from the crow quill nib of Thomas Paine in 1776. Not until the publication of Paines’, Common Sense in January, 1776 did the political leadership of the day seriously begin entertaining the notion of independence. Washington, Franklin and Jefferson, who were initially satisfied pursuing an airing of grievances with Britain, changed their mind to full separation and independence after reading Common Sense. A view shared by a majority of the 2.7-Million Colonists. And think about this: Common Sense sold 300,000 pamphlets in the first 3-months! And these figures are in the 1770s!







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Crisis

The success of Common Sense eventually gave way to the Revolutionary War of 1776 and, again, the pen of Thomas Paine.
General George Washington and his Continental Army were camped at Valley Forge for six long months from late 1777 to June, 1778. Even though no battle was fought here, Washingtons’ forces faced the harsh winter elements and low morale. Upon hearing this Paine wrote an article which so impressed General Washington that he ordered it read to the troops at Valley Forge. Over the next 6-years, Paine would write another dozen articles titled, The American Crisis.
244-years later the United States of America is in peril again, but this time, from Washington itself! And not surprisingly, the works of Thomas Paine have never been more inspiring and vital.



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Christopher Hitchens

Podcast on Thomas Paine

Christopher Hitchens died nine years ago. Still hard to believe. In this podcast, Hitchens delivers an informal but always engaging presentation, this time on Thomas Paine. One other takeaway from the podcast: Hitchens' voice continues to possess an enormously inspiring and comforting quality. Christopher Hitchens - forever a force.