Thomas Paine is a well known Anglo-American pamphleteer, inventor, often related to as a godfather of the United States. First he arrived in America when he was 37, Paine supported separatist atmosphere in his pamphlet “Common Sense” dates to the 1776 and in his tractate “Right of Man” (1971) he explained the reasons of the French Revolution from the Enlightenment position. That was the main reason he was selected for Convent in 1792, despite the fact he did not speak French. In 1794 Thomas Paine has written his most important philosophical work “The Age of Reason”, which was filled by deism ideas and sincere belief in the reason triumph.
Being of English origin Paine was born in not very rich Quackery family. His education contained only local school, where he even did not learned Latin. During his youth Paine served in the excise office and his directors were well aware about his oratory skills and even suggested him to ask for enlarging of his income. He wrote petition to the governmental institution and for some reasons no body read it before it was sent. In this letter Paine with his childish openness wrote directly why he was asking for enlarging the wage, as their income was so small, that they had no other chance but taking bribes.
After such letter all the excise office and Paine himself got to pass judgment. But hi figured out, escaped and got on the ship. In 1774 he was in America with recommendation letter from Franklin, to whom he got acquainted in England. It was just on the beginning of secession from the British Empire. On the huge meeting gathered according to such an event, Paine described in the most dark tones the contemporary English government. He persuaded Americans that they could not wait for a thing from them and suggested dwellers of America to proclaim independence and be separated from the British Empire. In 1775 Paine according to the wish of Congress and Senator afforded the petition of the colonists to the king. When the petition was left without many answer he returned to America and published “Common Sense”, in which he explained and persuaded the masses that every nation has a right to create personal government, the one that would correspond to the wishes of the nation. Washington noted that Paine’s proclamation in this pamphlet created a real breakthrough within the minds of Americans at that times. It was really impressive and could hardly leave anyone indifferent. When the Declaration of Independence was proclaimed and the war between the United Sates of America and British Empire outburst Paine moved to the Washington’s Camp and started to publish the pamphlet series “American Crisis”, supporting the courage of American military forces. One of his articles was created according to the directions of George Washington and was written to American military troops instead of daily military order. The words proclaimed during this speech were so impressive that American soldiers fighting against the English troops repeated the words “These are the times that try men’s souls” (Paine Thomas, 1776). The first “American Crisis” pamphlet was started with the words: “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. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated” (Paine Thomas, 1776).
That was the reason Paine became so popular. He was the second popular person after George Washington in the United States. In 1780 Charleston was captured by the English troops and Washington appeared in the very scrutinized situation, Paine suggested to establish first national subscription to cover unexpected military expenses. In 1781 Paine was sent to Paris by the United States government in order to sign up a decision on loan and he successfully carried out the set task.
After the end of the war Paine moved back to England and he welcomed the French Revolution, that outburst in 1789 with passion accompanied by Wordsworth and Robert Burns. They welcomed it like the sunrise of freedom of the whole humanity. When in 1790 Edmund Burke published his “Reflections on the Revolution in France” Paine confronted him with a large pamphlet “Rights of Man” in which he supported and struggled for essential and natural human rights. According to the Paine’s opinion every individual joins the social union not for the lessening of his natural rights, but for their providing. Yielding the part of his due the social interests, he let the freedom of thoughts after him, freedom of religious conscience and the right to do everything that does not harm the others to make himself happy. Arguing with Burke on this particular question Paine passionately protect the new Constitution of France, giving the right for vote to all these who pays even the smallest tax and makes a bad characterization for English Constitution, which is aimed on the serving the king to “buy” the citizens of the Kingdom. Being seriously touched the British Government started to pursue the pamphlet writer.
In May 1792 Pain was on the bench according the accusation in offending the King and Constitution. Paine could not be present at the court trial as he was elected as member of the Convent, he was living in Paris, that is why he charged his book and his personal protection to a well known lawyer of that time Thomas Erskine. And despite his brilliant speech which significantly influenced the enthusiasm of the contemporary youth, the jury recognized him guilty. As the government could not imprison Paine himself, they decided to pursue all these who were supposed to have the pamphlet. As a member of Convent Paine was the adherent of Girondists and always voted with them. In the process of the French King he was standing for ejecting Louis XVI and anticipated the meeting that the King’s execution would be a huge political fault and would create very unpleasant impression on the United States, where Louis XVI was very popular. Despite the execution he suggested to send the king to America as ejection from the country, there he would see how the social prosperity is growing during the republican government, based on the freedom and fair representatives. But the king was executed and the Montagnards did not forgive him protection of the king. In 1804 he returned to the United States, but he did not received the welcoming reception as during this years the attitude of Americans has significantly changed and there was no place for Thomas Paine. He died forgotten by everyone.
During support of New American Government Thomas Pain was dealing with “American Crisis” pamphlet series one of the most significant of his works, when it comes to the American period. During the exhausting war, American soldiers needed support and they found it within every word of the pamphlet. Thomas Paine put his soul in these creations, understanding the significance and necessity of moral supporting during such scrutinized times. The new country was born on his eyes and he took an active part in its establishment invoking the Colonists to break through the oppression of the British government and establish that type of state they would personally choose. That is why the War for Independence needed such figures like Thomas Paine, who would encourage warriors of freedom by their flammable words, struggling for their future and the future of their children.
Some parts of his “American Crisis” series were read aloud for the army like on December 23, 1776, two days before the Battle of Trenton. The aim was to encourage the soldiers let them understand that they are fighting not for the empty words, but for their Independence and the new country, it shamed the neutrals and loyalists and supported patriots: “Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph” (Paine Thomas, 1776). The Deist ideas of Thomas Paine were also realized in his pamphlets as well his his patriotic ideas. I think that at these time Thomas Paine was a hope of America, showing that patriot is not an empty word and it has deeper meaning that it could be supposed from the first time. He makes a stress on the fact that the British Empire takes too much on itself, trying to assume the powers of God: “impious; for so unlimited a power can belong only to God” (Paine Thomas, 1776). He insists on the fact that it is too much for the British and personally he belived in the fact that God supported the Newborn Nation: “that God Almighty will not give up a people to military destruction, or leave them unsupportedly to perish, who have so earnestly and so repeatedly sought to avoid the calamities of war, by every decent method which wisdom could invent” (Paine Thomas, 1776). These words were intended to reach the heart of every American, everyone who was hesitating was empowered by those strong words of personal belief. I think that such people like Thomas Paine were the ones who created history, being charismatic leaders and using the flaming verb to support the patriots and shame the loyalists.
I think that George Washington accompanied by such a charismatic person like Thomas Paine was doomed to success. The present day Americans recognize the significance of Paine’s works, and his in-war patriotic pamphlets take one of the most significant place among the American History Documents. He is undoubtedly among the most significant people during the period of Independence War. Now we can see how America honored its hero, there are a number of monuments and even museum of Thomas Paine and his literary works are kept and honored as the most significant. Personally I think that such charismatic figures appeared during the decisive times in American history and made an advantage for it.
1. Thomas Paine. “The American Crisis”. Philadelphia, Styner and Cist. 1776-77.
2. Bernstein, Richard B. “The Founding Fathers Reconsidered”. Oxford University Press US. 2009
3. Ayer, Alfred Jules. “Thomas Paine”.University of Chicago Press. 1990
4. Merrill Jensen. “The Founding of a Nation: A History of the American Revolution, 1763–1776”. New York: Oxford University Press. 1968