Does Paine's non-colonial birth give him an advantage or disadvantage compared to Jefferson?

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Thomas Jefferson was born into a privileged family, studied law, and lived a more than comfortable life. It has been documented that he owned over 600 slaves over the course of his lifetime as a planter and fathered six children with his slave Sally Hemings. In 1774, he wrote in his "Summary View of the Rights of British America" that the Virginia Colony was not seeking to separate from Britain, though he did emphasize that George III was "no more than the chief officer of the people." However, in 1776, he altered his position in drafting the Declaration of Independence.

English-born Thomas Paine did not enjoy the same kind of wealth and comfort as Jefferson. He tried and failed at several professions before heeding the advice of Benjamin Franklin and emigrating to the American colonies in 1774. Unlike Jefferson, Paine's belief in independence for the American colonies was immediate. His publications of "Common Sense" and "The American Crisis" made strong arguments for American independence.

It is perhaps impossible to determine whether Paine was at an advantage or disadvantage by being born in England insofar as it affected the American Revolution. Ultimately, both Jefferson and Paine came to the same conclusion: that the colonies must form an independent nation. Paine undoubtedly knew firsthand some of the reasons people were choosing to leave Britain, because he could not find his life's work or any hope of affluence there. Jefferson's sentiments developed as a wealthy and powerful colonist who came to believe that British policies were too oppressive to benefit Americans.

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Paine did have an advantage in being born and living in England as a commoner before moving to the American Colonies in his late 30s in 1774. Because he had lived under monarchy and an aristocratic system, and especially under George III, his attacks on the monarchial system and George, in particular, had credibility. While Jefferson also lived under monarchy as a subject to George III, he was one step removed from England, having been born in Virginia. He had experienced a different culture, one that had moved away from English culture to develop its own ethos and sensibility. Jefferson could be expected to side with his homeland, the Colonies, while one might expect Paine to be more loyal to England, his country of origin. 

Paine's status a commoner also gave him credibility. He was a rope maker, shop owner, and sometime school teacher, which were all very average professions. Jefferson was not only removed from the direct experience of monarchy in England, but he also led a highly privileged life at the apex of the American plantation hierarchy as planter and as slave owner. Thus his support of the Revolution could be construed as self interested in a way that Paine's could not. Paine's Common Sense very much reads as a cry from the heart of one who opposes tyranny for its own sake.

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Jefferson was born in 1743 in Virginia. His father, Peter Jefferson, was also born in Virginia and was, while not formally educated, a man of learning who worked as a surveyor. Thomas Jefferson studied philosophy and math at the College of William and Mary and then read law. When his father died in 1757, Thomas Jefferson inherited 5,000 acres of land and ownership of Monticello.

Thomas Paine, born in the English county of Norfolk, was the son of a man who made ropes for use in sailing. Paine left school at age 13, and he worked as an apprentice for his father. He later became a privateer and owned a shop working as a maker of stays for shipping. He became active in local government and published political pamphlets asking Parliament for better working conditions and pay. He did not emigrate to the colonies until 1774, with a letter of recommendation from Benjamin Franklin. 

Paine had many advantages in not being born in the colonies and in coming from a less elite background than Jefferson had. Paine's criticism of the British crown in his best-selling pamphlet Common Sense, published in 1776, gained traction in part because it was published by "an Englishman," as Paine signed it. It meant something that an Englishman was so critical of the crown, and Paine's authorship, while anonymous, gave more legitimacy to the colonists' criticism of the crown. While Jefferson, who wrote the Declaration of Independence, had an eloquent style, Paine's style--simple, direct, and psychological in its intent-- inspired the masses, and his work went on to sell 500,000 copies and to rally colonists behind the American Revolution. 

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Paine was born to a poor family and abandoned his pursuit for education at age 13. Jefferson, on the other hand, was an adept scholar and was raised in a wealthy family. Paine was forced to work low paying jobs which forced him to move a lot. Jefferson inherited much of his wealth from his parents and moved around mostly in pursuit of knowledge.

Paine’s birth outside the colonies should be viewed as an advantage especially with regards to the American and even the French revolution. This is because it was during his time in Great Britain that he nurtured his character to fight for the oppressed. He started by agitating for better pay and working conditions when he worked as an excise officer. His enlightenment ideals also forced him to question the authority of the British monarchy. When he arrived in America he played an instrumental role in inspiring the rebels to officially sever ties with Great Britain, through his work Common Sense. His upbringing in Great Britain raised his awareness to the issues of the monarchy, where authority was hereditary and not as a matter of consent by the governed.

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

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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