Political Activist, Philosopher, Political Theorist
Lifetime: 1737 - 1809 Passed: ≈ 212 years ago
Thomas Paine (born Thomas Pain; February 9, 1737– June 8, 1809) was an English-born American political activist, philosopher, political theorist, and revolutionary. He authored Common Sense (1776) and The American Crisis (1776–1783), the two most influential pamphlets at the start of the American Revolution, and helped inspire the patriots in 1776 to declare independence from Great Britain. His ideas reflected Enlightenment-era ideals of transnational human rights. Historian Saul K. Padover described him as "a corsetmaker by trade, a journalist by profession, and a propagandist by inclination".
His writings in the long term inspired philosophic and working-class radicals in Britain and United States. Liberals, libertarians, left-libertarians, feminists, democratic socialists, social democrats, anarchists, free thinkers and progressives often claim him as an intellectual ancestor.
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). James Monroe, a future President of the United States, used his diplomatic connections to get Paine released in November 1794. Paine became notorious because of his pamphlets. In The Age of Reason he advocated deism, promoted reason and free thought and argued against institutionalized religion in general and Christian doctrine in particular. He published the pamphlet Agrarian Justice (1797), discussing the origins of property and introduced the concept of a guaranteed minimum income through a one-time inheritance tax on landowners. In 1802, he returned to the U.S. When he died on June 8, 1809, only six people attended his funeral as he had been ostracized for his ridicule of Christianity.
On the morning of June 8, 1809, Paine died, aged 72, at 59 Grove Street in Greenwich Village, New York City. Although the original building is no longer there, the present building has a plaque noting that Paine died at this location.
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