Thomas Paine  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Thomas Paine (Thetford, England, 29 January 17378 June 1809, New York City, USA) was a pamphleteer, revolutionary, radical and intellectual. Born in Great Britain, he lived in America, having migrated to the American colonies just in time to take part in the American Revolution, mainly as the author of the powerful, widely-read pamphlet, Common Sense (1776), advocating independence for the American Colonies from the Kingdom of Great Britain. In the The American Crisis, pamphlets supporting the Revolution, he wrote the very famous lines:
"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. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph."

Later, Paine was a great influence on the French Revolution. He wrote the Rights of Man (1791) as a guide to the ideas of the Enlightenment. Despite an inability to speak French, he was elected to the French National Assembly in 1792. Regarded as an ally of the Girondins, he was seen with increasing disfavour by the Montagnards and in particular by Robespierre.

Paine was arrested in Paris and imprisoned in December 1793; he was released in 1794. He became notorious with his book, The Age of Reason (1793-94), which advocated deism and took issue with Christian doctrines.

In Agrarian Justice (1795), he introduced concepts similar to socialism. Paine remained in France during the early Napoleonic Era, but condemned Napoleon's moves towards dictatorship, calling him "the completest charlatan that ever existed." Paine remained in France until 1802, when he returned to America on an invitation from Thomas Jefferson, who had been elected president.

Paine died at 59 Grove Street in Greenwich Village, New York City, on the morning of June 8, 1809.



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