Thomas Paine



Both lousy photos, with too much muddy middle tone to for even the wonders of Photoshop to fix. I need to get back to the Hall of Fame and retake.

Paine in Great Britain's A**

Paine (29 Jan. 1737-8 June 1809) was famous - or notorious, depending on your point of view - as a political pamphleteer. Having emigrated from England in 1774 with a letter from Benjamin Franklin in hand, he took a job at the Pennsylvania Magazine in Philadelphia. Among his friends in America were John Adams, David Rittenhouse, and Benjamin Rush, who suggested that he write a pamphlet advocating independence for the American colonies - without actually using the word "independence."

Common Sense appeared in early 1776. The ideas were not new (John Adams claimed many of them were his own, restated), but were expressed with tremendous clarity and vigor: for example, "We have it in our power to begin the world over again." Common Sense became a bestseller - one of the most influential pamphlets of the American Revolution.

Favorite Paine quotes

Selected excerpts from Common Sense, 1776:

Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness POSITIVELY by uniting our affections, the latter NEGATIVELY by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first a patron, the last a punisher.

A long habit of not thinking a thing WRONG, gives it a superficial appearance of being RIGHT, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason.

When we are planning for posterity, we ought to remember that virtue is not hereditary.

We have every opportunity and every encouragement before us, to form the noblest purest constitution on the face of the earth. We have it in our power to begin the world over again. A situation, similar to the present, hath not happened since the days of Noah until now. The birthday of a new world is at hand, and a race of men, perhaps as numerous as all Europe contains, are to receive their portion of freedom from the event of a few months.

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