While there is little doubt the 1776 published pamphlet “Common Sense” is one of Paine’s most recognised titles, it should be noted the author was also responsible for writing “The American Crisis” (1783), “Rights of Man” (1791) and “Agrarian Justice” (1797).

Title page, English edition, of Part I

Ten years later, in 1807, “The Age of Reason” was published. These writings added much substance to the American cause and brought significant attention to the issues it was the author wished people would focus their efforts.

English-born American political activist Paine, sometimes also spelled “Pain,” was born in Thetford, Norfolk, England on Saturday, 9 Feb. 1737. Further to his activities as a political activist, Paine was well-known for being philosopher and a revolutionary.

One of the Founding Fathers of these United States, with the assistance of Benjamin Franklin, Paine immigrated to what was then the British American colonies in 1774. Relative to what is commonly referred to as being the American Revolution, Paine’s arrival in the British American colonies was aptly timed.

Unlike today, with most rebels having read “Common Sense,” people were more likely to intellectually digest what it was Paine had had published. It was this pamphlet which cemented rebellious thither in the colonists, thus establishing a greater demand of independence from the British Empire.

“Common Sense,” (1776)

“Common Sense,” as historians of early American history will undoubtedly know, was part of a series of pro-revolutionary pamphlets referenced as “The American Crisis.”

During the 1790s. Paine could be seen living in France. Not surprisingly, during this period, the author is known to have be3come involved with the French Revolution.

Did you know “Rights of Man,” published in 1791, was written as a full-throated defence of the French Revolution? Critics of the revolution found it difficult to counter Paine’s arguments.

Not backwards in expressing his thoughts, Paine was never shy about expressing what he truly felt on any issues. Unfortunately for Anglo-Irish conservative writer Edmund Burke, Paine did not feel it necessary to sugar-coat his opinions. In 1792, with having apparently gravely offended the Anglo-Irish writer, Paine was tried and convicted in absentia for the apparent crime of seditious libel.

There was deep concern emanating from the British government the French Revolution might influence a similar uprising in England. At the time, easily confused with the First Earl of Chatham, the Prime Minister of the day was William Pitt the Younger. The First Earl of Chatham was of course William Pitt the Elder.

To prevent such uprisings from occurring in Great Britain, the then Prime Minister vigorously sought to suppress philosophical works that might have been construed as being radical. Understandably, because of the nature Paine’s work embodied, Pitt thought advocating people should have a right to overthrow a government is tantamount to treason. In 1792, with Paine’s writing was targeted as an example of philosophical publications potentially dangerous to the wellbeing of the British government, a writ for the author’s arrest issued. Paine fled to France.

Paine’s assertions, regardless of how Pitt saw them, were correct. If a government was incapable of governing fairly, the populace should with a committee voice overthrow the injustices of that government.

Interestingly, even though Paine did not speak French, the author was elected to the French National Convention.

Portrait of Thomas Paine by Matthew Pratt, 1785–1795

If you are familiar with Paine’s life story, there is a good chance you will know the author wrote “The Age of Reason” while held in Paris’ Luxembourg Prison. In Dec. 1793, the author had been arrested and taken to the prison where he was to write his next book.

If it were not for then future United States President James Monroe, Paine would have languished in the Parisian prison longer. Through diplomatic channels, in Nov. 1794, Monroe was able to secure Paine’s release.

Paine died at 59 Grove Street in Greenwich Village, New York City on Thursday, 8 June 1809. He was 72. With conservatively minded Christians being every bit as thin-skinned then as they are now, Paine’s funeral was attended by only six people. The author had apparently been ostracised because of how he openly ridiculed Christianity.

In addition to Paine, other authors born on this day include: