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What is Thomas Paine's historical context?

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bklyn | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 8, 2008 at 11:48 PM via web

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What is Thomas Paine's historical context?

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pmiranda2857 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 9, 2008 at 2:57 AM (Answer #1)

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Thomas Paine was a contemporary of Benjamin Franklin.  They met while Franklin was in England acting on behalf of the American colonies in the 1770s.  He came to America in 1774, and began working for a bookseller. 

He is best known for his pamphlet "Common Sense" which condemned the monarchy and detailed the rights and freedoms that all men are entitled to according their birth.

Paine also served in the Continental Army.  His other works, including The American  Crisis which contains the famous line:

 “These are the times that try men’s souls. . . .”—was the first of a series of pamphlets he titled The American Crisis."

Back in Europe during the French Revolution, Paine was a celebrated author.  He had published "The Rights of Man" and got in trouble when he tried to publish part 2.  He was accused of writing subsersive material.  Found guilty, he escaped to France.

"By 1793, he was imprisoned in France for not endorsing the execution of Louis XVI. During his imprisonment, he wrote and distributed the first part of what was to become his most famous work at the time, the anti-church text, The Age of Reason (1794-96). He was freed in 1794 (narrowly escaping execution) thanks to the efforts of James Monroe, then U.S. Minister to France."

He died June 1809 in New York City at age 72. 

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