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Thomas Paine

Oct 08, 1999 815 Words
Thomas Paine

In September of 1776, on the outskirts of Newark, among the tired, discouraged, soldiers, as they paused from their daily retreat, sat Thomas Paine. He wrote many papers that would have a major effect on the outcome of the quest for independence. Born the son of a Quaker Laymaker on January 29th, 1737 at Thetford, Norfolk England. He received a basic elementary education, and started to work for his father as an apprentice, and later as an excise officer. He was not a huge success at either, and was in fact fired twice from the job as an excise officer. When he arrived in Philadelphia on November 30th 1774, he was sick and feverish, and had to be carried on a stretcher. With a letter of recommendation from Ben Franklin, he was accepted into a hospital and given special care, until he recovered. With that same letter from Ben Franklin, he found many doors opened for him, including jobs tutoring many of the sons of the wealthiest men in Philadelphia.

Paine started over again, by publishing African Slavery In America, in the spring of 1775, in which he criticized slavery in America as being unjust and inhumane. At about this same time, he became the co-editor for the Pennsylvania Magazine. When he arrived in Philadelphia, Paine noticed the tension, and the rebellious attitude, that was continually getting larger, after the Boston Tea Party.

In Paine's opinion, the Colonies had all the right to revolt against a government that imposed taxes on them, and which did not give them the right of representation in the Parliament at Westminster. Then he went one massive step further, he decided there was no reason for the Colonies to stay dependent on England. He published his opinions in the American independence pamphlet Common Sense.

In Common Sense Paine states that sooner or later Independence from England must come, because America had lost touch with the mother country. He felt that the function of government in society was to only be a regulator, and thus pretty simple. His strong beliefs made him a major influence on the Declaration Of Independence.

He joined General Washington in his battle against General Howe in the War of Independence. Where he motivated many downhearted soldiers who needed reassurance. The retreating of General Washington's army was a slow, daily affair. Being an Englishman himself, Paine knew that the British enemy, would not take the Revolutionary Army seriously and was familiar with tactics of the English Army, and could advise the Revolutionary Army of what was to be expected. The English were polite in the way that they did not attack at night. They were slow to rise in the mornings, and early to retire for the evenings. Their strategy on the battlefield was very formal and exact. The English would march in tight ranks, which was perfect for European battles, but senseless in the New World, where they would easily be taken out by Revolutionary sharpshooters. The bright red military uniforms that they wore looked great, but made them extra easy targets, in the misty New England days. While under General Washington's command, Paine started work on the first of his American Crisis papers, which were later published between the years of 1776 and 1783 In these papers he wrote of how Americans must be willing to give it their all… "These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot, will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman." He also wrote of how the Americans would not win easily, for if they did, they would not respect it with the respect if they had a hard time overcoming it. "Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered… What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly." In 1787 Thomas Paine left for England, when the French Revolution broke out. Originally intending to raise money for a bridge he was building, Paine was sidetracked and became deeply involved in the French Revolution. He began publishing The Rights Of Man in which he defended the Revolution and attacked the English monarch. His book was banned in England, naturally, and he was to be arrested, but was not on account he had left for France. When he returned to America in 1802, under invitation by Thomas Jefferson, he learned that he was considered a hindrance to America, or altogether forgotten. He died on June 8, 1809 in New York City, from dropsy. Truly Thomas Paine was the Most Loved and Most Hated Man in America. He had motivated the young nation to free itself from a monarchic rule. And was a thorn in the side of England, as they continued to lose their grip of control, on America.

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