Portrait of English-American writer and polemicist Thomas Paine.

Thomas Paine

(1737 - 1809)

Born to a Quaker father and an Anglican mother in England in 1737, Thomas Paine in 1774 met Benjamin Franklin, who convinced the recently dismissed officer of the excise to move to America. Within fourteen months of his arrival, Paine published Common Sense, selling over 500,000 copies in a few months. The new Continental Congress soon appointed him secretary to its foreign affairs committee. Between 1791 and 1792, Paine published in two parts his defense of the French Revolution, Rights of Man. The last decade of his life was marked by poverty and physical decline, and at his death most U.S. newspapers reprinted the obituary notice from the New York Citizen, which read in part: “He had lived long, did some good and much harm.”

All Writing

Whatever the apparent cause of any riots may be, the real one is always want of happiness.

—Thomas Paine, 1792

I have yet, I believe, some years in store, for I have a good state of health and a happy mind, and I take care of both by nourishing the first with temperance and the latter with abundance. This, I believe, you will allow to be the true philosophy of life.

—Thomas Paine, 1803

Voices In Time

1776 | Philadelphia

Security Measures

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