Paine, Thomas (West's Encyclopedia of American Law)
Social agitator Thomas Paine was an influential political writer whose support of revolution and republican government emboldened the American colonists to declare independence from England. In 1776, the corset-maker-turned-pamphleteer published the first of a sixteen-part series entitled The American Crisis. Paine's tract contained the stirring words "These are the times that try men's souls." Paine wrote the famous pamphlet to lift the spirits of the beleaguered Continental Army.
The effect of Paine's political writing was felt not only in America but also in England and France. After the American Revolution, Paine returned to his native Europe, where he supported the French Revolution. His political opinions ignited a storm in England and landed him in jail in France. During his lifetime, Paine's political views made him both tremendously popular and almost universally despised. In particular, his later writings about organized religion and deism offended many Americans. Shunned and penniless at the end of his life, Paine has only recently found his rightful place in history.
Paine was born into a poor English family on January 29, 1737, in Thetford, Norfolk, England. To help support his Quaker father and Anglican mother, Paine quit school at age thirteen and began training in corset making, his father's trade. Unhappy in his vocation, Paine left home and enlisted as a...
(The entire section is 959 words.)
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