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Thomas Paine was born before the American Revolution in 1737 in Thetford, England.  He was unsuccessful in school and left by the age of twelve, was unsuccessful as his father’s apprentice making ropes for ships and he was unsuccessful working for the English government as a tax collector.  His personal life was no easier.  His beloved wife and their infant died during childbirth.Paine was fired and rehired as a tax collector. Following this he wrote an article for better pay for the tax collection position and was fired again.  Things looked bleak and then he met Benjamin Franklin who helped him emigrate to the U.S.  He settled in Philadelphia and his first successful employment came as an editor.  During this time in 1776 he wrote a publication called “Common Sense” and distributed 4,000 copies.  “Common Sense” is a twenty-one page pamphlet written for ordinary people in language they could understand and/or have read to them. It began a conversation about the presence of English rule in the colonies.  Paine’s publication stirred independence amongst colonists and increased recruitment for the Continental Army.  Paine volunteered to be a personal assistant to General Nathanael Greene.  While in the Army he further contributed to the independence movement by issuing more publications known as his sixteen “Crisis” papers.  In keeping with his personal history, however,  he was unsuccessful with sticking with the Army and returned overseas to pursue other ventures.  He would later be deemed treasonous by England for his views and spend time in a French prison.  Once Paine was release from prison he came back to the U.S. in the early 1800s.  However, his contributions and reputation were no longer remembered, but his renowned reputation treason to England was well-known.Paine past away in 1809.  His obituary stated “He had lived long, did some good and much harm.”  It wasn’t until over one hundred and twenty years later that the Times of London restored his reputation and referred to him as the “English Voltaire”.  He is now referenced in historical books as an early and influential founding member of the American Revolution.

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