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I would say that Paine's greatest contribution and most relevant to the fabric of what it means to be "American" is his embodiment of how thankless a job it is to be a freedom fighter. Such a harsh assessment comes from the fact that he really never received much in way of credit for all that he gave to America, ranging from the broad declaration of Colonial freedom seen inCommon Senseor in the call to continued action in the face of adversity as seen inThe Crisis. Paine was not credited fully with his embrace of Enlightenment ideals, the same principles in work in the Constitution and in Jefferson'sDeclaration of Independence. Rather, Paine returns to America to find himself the victim of political partisanship, and being the recipient of scorn from those that owed much in terms of political and historical gratitude towards him. The fact that he dies in an obscure manner in the nation that he played a large role in founding and cultivating is reflective of how America's legacy in the world is one of brevity of memory and intensity in the magnitude of popularity. The same forces that are dominant today will turn out to be nothing more than a mere footnote tomorrow, and this bleakness is something that Paine embodies and so many more do in the narratives of American History. In this, his contributions to American independence are significant, in that a case can be made that its ferocity and intensity are not as dominant without Thomas Paine. Yet, the social fabric of what it means to be popular and successful in America are the forces that malign Paine, and are also reflective of how his story becomes a cautionary tale of what American independence and freedom has become. In this, Paine represents that which few would wish to be remembered. Thomas Paine is significantly remembered for both in their glory and infamy.
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