Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine was an English-born American political activist, philosopher, political theorist, and revolutionary who lived from February 9, 1737, to June 8, 1809. He wrote The American Crisis (1776-1783) and Common Sense (1776-1783), two of the most important pamphlets at the outset of the American Revolution. He also contributed to the Patriots' 1776 decision to declare their hitherto unpopular goal of independence from Great Britain. His opinions were consistent with Enlightenment values for universal human rights. In an era before compulsory schooling, he attended Thetford Grammar School (1744-1749). He became his father's apprentice when he was 13 years old. After finishing his apprenticeship, Paine enlisted at the age of 19 and served for a short time as a privateer before returning to Britain in 1759. He opened a store in Sandwich, Kent, after becoming a master staymaker there. Paine traveled from France to the United States in 1802, or maybe 1803, paying for the passage of Marguerite Brazier, the wife of Thomas Bonneville, as well as the couple's three boys, Benjamin, Louis, and Thomas, for whom Paine served as godfather. In the early years of the Second Great Awakening, a period of intense political partisanship, Paine returned to the United States.

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