Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine
Portrait of Thomas Paine.jpg
Portrait by Laurent Dabos (c. 1792)
BornThomas Pain
(1737-02-09)February 9, 1737
Thetford, Norfolk, Great Britain
DiedJune 8, 1809(1809-06-08) (aged 72)
New York City, U.S.
Spouse(s)Mary Lambert (m. 1759), Elizabeth Ollive (m. 1771)
EraAge of Enlightenment
SchoolEnlightenment, liberalism, republicanism
Main interests
Politics, ethics, religion
Thomas Paine Signature.svg

Thomas Paine (or Pain;[1] February 9, 1737 [O.S. January 29, 1736][Note 1] – June 8, 1809) was an English-born American political activist, philosopher, political theorist and revolutionary. One of the Founding Fathers of the United States, he authored the two most influential pamphlets at the start of the American Revolution and inspired the rebels in 1776 to declare independence from Britain.[2] His ideas reflected Enlightenment-era rhetoric of transnational human rights.[3] Saul K. Padover described him as "a corsetmaker by trade, a journalist by profession, and a propagandist by inclination".[4]

Born in Thetford in the English county of Norfolk, Paine migrated to the British American colonies in 1774 with the help of Benjamin Franklin, arriving just in time to participate in the American Revolution. Virtually every rebel read (or listened to a reading of) his powerful pamphlet Common Sense (1776), proportionally the all-time best-selling[5][6] American title, which crystallized the rebellious demand for independence from Great Britain. His The American Crisis (1776–1783) was a pro-revolutionary pamphlet series. Common Sense was so influential that John Adams said: "Without the pen of the author of Common Sense, the sword of Washington would have been raised in vain".[7]

Paine lived in France for most of the 1790s, becoming deeply involved in the French Revolution. He wrote Rights of Man (1791), in part a defense of the French Revolution against its critics. His attacks on Irish conservative writer Edmund Burke led to a trial and conviction in absentia in England in 1792 for the crime of seditious libel. The British government of William Pitt the Younger, worried by the possibility that the French Revolution might spread to England, had begun suppressing works that espoused radical philosophies. Paine's work, which advocated the right of the people to overthrow their government, was duly targeted, with a writ for his arrest issued in early 1792. Paine fled to France in September where, rather immediately and despite not being able to speak French, he was elected to the French National Convention. The Girondists regarded him as an ally. Consequently, the Montagnards, especially Maximilien Robespierre, regarded him as an enemy.

In December 1793, he was arrested and was taken to Luxembourg Prison in Paris. While in prison, he continued to work on The Age of Reason (1793–1794). Future President James Monroe used his diplomatic connections to get Paine released in November 1794. He became notorious because of his pamphlets The Age of Reason, in which he advocated deism, promoted reason and free thought and argued against institutionalized religion in general and Christian doctrine in particular. He also published the pamphlet Agrarian Justice (1797), discussing the origins of property and introduced the concept of a guaranteed minimum income. In 1802, he returned to the U.S. where he died on June 8, 1809. Only six people attended his funeral as he had been ostracized for his ridicule of Christianity.[8]

Early life and education

Paine was born on January 29, 1736 (NS February 9, 1737),[Note 1] the son of Joseph Pain (or Paine) and Frances (née Cocke), in Thetford, Norfolk, England. Joseph was a Quaker and Frances an Anglican.[9] Born Thomas Pain, and despite claims that he changed his family name upon his emigration to America in 1774,[1] he was using Paine in 1769, while still in Lewes, Sussex.[10]

Old School at Thetford Grammar School, where Paine was educated

He attended Thetford Grammar School (1744–1749), at a time when there was no compulsory education.[11] At the age of 13, he was apprenticed to his stay-maker father. Paine researchers contend his father's occupation has been widely misinterpreted to mean that he made the stays in ladies' corsets, which likely was an insult later invented by his political foes.[citation needed] The father and apprentice son actually made the thick rope stays (also called stay ropes) used on sailing ships.[12][better source needed] [13] Thetford historically had maintained a brisk trade with the downriver, then major, port town of King's Lynn.[14][not in citation given]

A connection to shipping and the sea explains why, in late adolescence, Thomas enlisted and briefly served as a privateer,[15][16][better source needed] before returning to Britain in 1759. There, he became a master stay-maker, establishing a shop in Sandwich, Kent.[17] On September 27, 1759, Thomas Paine married Mary Lambert. His business collapsed soon after. Mary became pregnant; and, after they moved to Margate, she went into early labor, in which she and their child died.

In July 1761, Paine returned to Thetford to work as a supernumerary officer. In December 1762, he became an Excise Officer in Grantham, Lincolnshire; in August 1764, he was transferred to Alford, also in Lincolnshire, at a salary of £50 per annum. On August 27, 1765, he was dismissed as an Excise Officer for "claiming to have inspected goods he did not inspect". On July 31, 1766, he requested his reinstatement from the Board of Excise, which they granted the next day, upon vacancy. While awaiting that, he worked as a stay-maker. Again, he was making stay ropes for shipping, not stays for corsets.[18]

Thomas Paine's house in Lewes

In 1767, he was appointed to a position in Grampound, Cornwall. Later he asked to leave this post to await a vacancy, and he became a schoolteacher in London.

On February 19, 1768, he was appointed to Lewes in Sussex, a town with a tradition of opposition to the monarchy and pro-republican sentiments since the revolutionary decades of the 17th century.[19] Here he lived above the 15th-century Bull House, the tobacco shop of Samuel Ollive and Esther Ollive.

Paine first became involved in civic matters when he was based in Lewes. He appears in the Town Book as a member of the Court Leet, the governing body for the town. He was also a member of the parish vestry, an influential local church group whose responsibilities for parish business would include collecting taxes and tithes to distribute among the poor. On March 26, 1771, at age 34, he married Elizabeth Ollive, his landlord's daughter.[citation needed]

Plaque at the White Hart Hotel, Lewes, East Sussex, south east England

From 1772 to 1773, Paine joined excise officers asking Parliament for better pay and working conditions, publishing, in summer of 1772, The Case of the Officers of Excise, a 12-page article, and his first political work, spending the London winter distributing the 4,000 copies printed to the Parliament and others. In spring 1774, he was again dismissed from the excise service for being absent from his post without permission; his tobacco shop failed, too. On April 14, to avoid debtors' prison, he sold his household possessions to pay debts. On June 4, 1774, he formally separated from his wife Elizabeth and moved to London, where, in September, mathematician, Fellow of the Royal Society, and Commissioner of the Excise George Lewis Scott introduced him to Benjamin Franklin,[20] who suggested emigration to British colonial America, and gave him a letter of recommendation. In October, Paine emigrated to the American colonies, arriving in Philadelphia on November 30, 1774.[21]

He barely survived the transatlantic voyage. The ship's water supplies were bad and typhoid fever killed five passengers. On arriving at Philadelphia, he was too sick to disembark. Benjamin Franklin's physician, there to welcome Paine to America, had him carried off ship; Paine took six weeks to recover. He became a citizen of Pennsylvania "by taking the oath of allegiance at a very early period".[22] In January 1775, he became editor of the Pennsylvania Magazine, a position he conducted with considerable ability.

Other Languages
العربية: توماس بين
aragonés: Thomas Paine
asturianu: Thomas Paine
azərbaycanca: Tomas Peyn
বাংলা: টমাস পেইন
Bân-lâm-gú: Tom Paine
беларуская: Томас Пейн
भोजपुरी: थॉमस पेन
български: Томас Пейн
bosanski: Thomas Paine
brezhoneg: Thomas Paine
català: Thomas Paine
čeština: Thomas Paine
Cymraeg: Thomas Paine
Deutsch: Thomas Paine
Ελληνικά: Τόμας Πέιν
español: Thomas Paine
Esperanto: Thomas Paine
euskara: Thomas Paine
فارسی: توماس پین
français: Thomas Paine
한국어: 토머스 페인
Հայերեն: Թոմաս Փեյն
हिन्दी: थॉमस पेन
hrvatski: Thomas Paine
Bahasa Indonesia: Thomas Paine
íslenska: Thomas Paine
italiano: Thomas Paine
ქართული: ტომას პეინი
қазақша: Пейн Томас
Latina: Thomas Paine
latviešu: Tomass Peins
magyar: Thomas Paine
मैथिली: थोमस पेन
Malagasy: Thomas Paine
मराठी: थॉमस पेन
Nederlands: Thomas Paine
नेपाली: थोमस पेन
norsk nynorsk: Thomas Paine
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਥਾਮਸ ਪੇਨ
پنجابی: تھامس پین
polski: Thomas Paine
português: Thomas Paine
română: Thomas Paine
русский: Пейн, Томас
Simple English: Thomas Paine
slovenčina: Thomas Paine
slovenščina: Thomas Paine
српски / srpski: Томас Пејн
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Thomas Paine
svenska: Thomas Paine
Tagalog: Thomas Paine
తెలుగు: థామస్ పేన్
тоҷикӣ: Томас Пейн
Türkçe: Thomas Paine
українська: Томас Пейн
Tiếng Việt: Thomas Paine
Winaray: Thomas Paine
Yorùbá: Thomas Paine
Zazaki: Thomas Paine