Thomas Paine

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What two characteristics distinguished Thomas Paine from others?

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The question is a little unclear when one compares Paine to 'the others," but Paine was quite different from his contemporaries. In Common Sense, Paine's writing style was quite quotable by most literate people. Paine was able to see the inevitability of the colonists winning their cause even when the war looked especially bleak.

Paine also openly mocked the Christian faith in his work The Age of Reason. While a few of the Founders did not openly follow organized religion, few mocked the practice as did Thomas Paine, an outspoken Deist. This alienated some from his cause and he was considered a radical even in some colonial circles.

The thing that sets Paine apart the most is his criminal record. Paine was convicted of seditious libel in Britain; however, he was never punished because at the time he was living in France. While in France, Paine was arrested and sentenced to death during the French Revolution. It took the diplomatic work of James Monroe to get him safely out of the country. Paine died in 1809 in the United States.

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"The others" is going to be a source of divergence in the answers provided.  For example, what made Paine different from "the other" British individuals of the time period was how he openly advocated for Colonial independence.  This made Paine different from other British citizens of the time period.  Even from his earliest writings advocating for the cause of higher wages, Paine was different from "the others" who failed to see the cause of social justice as one worth fighting.  Throughout his life and from the earliest of moments, Paine made his reputation as one who campaigned for what was equitable, even if it disrupted the Status Quo. This is one way Paine was different from "the others."

After the American Revolution, Paine was different from "the others" in how he was unable to find a consistent avenue for his political beliefs.  So many of the framers and the earliest Patriots of the American Revolution were able to find some vocation or political channel in which they were able to successfully make the transition between fighting for freedom and learning how to live with it.  Paine was not.  He was different from "the others" because he was so much in flux and turbulent in finding a professional and personal sense of "home."  Paine struggled with finding stability and a consistent voice, as well as a source of income.  It was here in which Paine was different from "the others" who were much more successful in the transition between the war for freedom and peace within it.

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