Thomas Paine: Common Sense

(1776)

About the Author

Thomas Paine was born in Thetford, England, in 1737, and largely lived in the working-class world in which he was raised, despite his elementary education and marked intelligence. He served for two years aboard one of the many privateers operating as both merchant and pirate ships during the Seven Years' War with France, thus gaining a degree of experience in combat among common men. Upon returning to England, Paine began his own corset-making business and attempted to start a family, but his first wife died after only a year of marriage, perhaps while giving birth to the couple's premature infant. Paine remarried but separated from his second wife after several years. Following these setbacks, he gained work as a tax collector, a position he later lost for failing to perform adequately. Nevertheless, he was later rehired and served for seven years before being fired again after petitioning (in vain) the British Parliament for higher salaries for those in...

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Thomas Paine (Library of Congress)

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