Compare the backgrounds of Jefferson and Paine. did Paine have an advantage or disadvantage in not being born in the colonies?  

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While Thomas Jefferson grew up in a wealthy Virginia family and received a fine education at the College of William and Mary and under the guidance of lawyer George Wythe, Thomas Paine was raised in England in a family of modest means and served as a sailor and an excise...

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While Thomas Jefferson grew up in a wealthy Virginia family and received a fine education at the College of William and Mary and under the guidance of lawyer George Wythe, Thomas Paine was raised in England in a family of modest means and served as a sailor and an excise officer before immigrating to America. The backgrounds of these two men are, therefore, quite different, and it makes sense that their perspectives would also vary. Let's look at this in more detail.

Jefferson never knew much about deprivation or hardship. His father was a successful planter, and his mother came from an upper-class family. Jefferson's education was thorough and refined, and he entered into his profession of lawyer and became a member of the House of Burgesses in Virginia when he was still in his twenties. His ideas were largely formed by his education and by intellectual associations with other people of his class. This is not, of course, a bad thing. It simply made Jefferson who he was, and it contributed to the refined ideas (and style of communication) he would express throughout his life.

On the other hand, Paine got his education in the proverbial school of hard knocks. He dropped out of formal schooling at the age twelve and apprenticed with his father, who was a corset maker. He knew what it meant to be on the poor end of the financial spectrum, and he also knew what it meant to live directly under English rule in England. He tried to go to sea at age sixteen to escape that life, but his father stopped him. Eventually, in his role of excise officer (tax collector), he discovered the hardships of the British taxation system and developed his voice of protest, speaking out for better pay.

When Paine moved to America and began addressing the issues of American independence in works like Common Sense, he could write from a much broader and perhaps more down-to-earth perspective than Jefferson could have, considering his background. This gave Paine an advantage. He could speak to all different classes of people and was even able to inspire American soldiers through his popular writing. Indeed, Thomas Paine had the advantage of meeting people right where they were and teaching them at their own level.

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