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Biography of Thomas Paine and His Role in American History

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    Thomas PaineIn 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 questfor independence. Born the son of a Quaker Laymaker on January 29th, 1737 atThetford, Norfolk England. He received a basic elementary education, and startedto work for his father as an apprentice, and later as an excise officer. He wasnot a huge success at either, and was in fact fired twice from the job as anexcise 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 ofrecommendation from Ben Franklin, he was accepted into a hospital and givenspecial care, until he recovered. With that same letter from Ben Franklin, hefound many doors opened for him, including jobs tutoring many of the sons of thewealthiest men in Philadelphia.

    Paine started over again, by publishing African Slavery In America, inthe spring of 1775, in which he criticized slavery in America as being unjustand inhumane. At about this same time, he became the co-editor for thePennsylvania Magazine. When he arrived in Philadelphia, Paine noticed thetension, and the rebellious attitude, that was continually getting larger, afterthe Boston Tea Party.

    In Paine’s opinion, the Colonies had all the right to revolt against agovernment that imposed taxes on them, and which did not give them the right ofrepresentation in the Parliament at Westminster. Then he went one massive stepfurther, he decided there was no reason for the Colonies to stay dependent onEngland. He published his opinions in the American independence pamphlet CommonSense.

    In Common Sense Paine states that sooner or later Independence fromEngland must come, because America had lost touch with the mother country. Hefelt that the function of government in society was to only be a regulator, andthus pretty simple. His strong beliefs made him a major influence on theDeclaration Of Independence.

    He joined General Washington in his battle against General Howe in theWar of Independence. Where he motivated many downhearted soldiers who neededreassurance. The retreating of General Washington’s army was a slow, dailyaffair. Being an Englishman himself, Paine knew that the British enemy, wouldnot take the Revolutionary Army seriously and was familiar with tactics of theEnglish 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 wereslow to rise in the mornings, and early to retire for the evenings. Theirstrategy on the battlefield was very formal and exact. The English would marchin tight ranks, which was perfect for European battles, but senseless in the NewWorld, where they would easily be taken out by Revolutionary sharpshooters. Thebright red military uniforms that they wore looked great, but made them extraeasy targets, in the misty New England days. While under General Washington’scommand, Paine started work on the first of his American Crisis papers, whichwere later published between the years of 1776 and 1783 In these papers he wroteof how Americans must be willing to give it their all “These are the times thattry men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot, will, in thiscrisis, 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 theAmericans would not win easily, for if they did, they would not respect it withthe respect if they had a hard time overcoming it. “Tyranny, like hell, is noteasily 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 wassidetracked and became deeply involved in the French Revolution. He beganpublishing The Rights Of Man in which he defended the Revolution and attackedthe English monarch. His book was banned in England, naturally, and he was to bearrested, but was not on account he had left for France. When he returned toAmerica in 1802, under invitation by Thomas Jefferson, he learned that he wasconsidered 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 Loved andMost Hated Man in America. He had motivated the young nation to free itself froma monarchic rule. And was a thorn in the side of England, as they continued tolose their grip of control, on America.

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