The New Student's Reference Work/Paine, Thomas

Paine, Thomas, an English writer and free thinker, was born in Norfolk, Jan. 29, 1737, and became staymaker, marine, schoolmaster, exciseman and tobacconist in turn. In 1774 he sailed for America. In 1776 his pamphlet Common Sense appeared, followed a year later by The Crisis. While he was serving as a private at Trenton, Congress gave him the position of secretary of the committee of foreign affairs, but he lost the post in 1779 and was appointed clerk of the Pennsylvania legislature. In 1785 he was given $3,000 and the New Rochelle farm by Congress. He returned to England in 1787, and in 1791-92 published his Rights of Man and the famous reply to Burke's Reflections upon the French Revolution. This work caused much trouble and he fled to Paris, where he was elected to the national convention which tried Louis XVI. Favoring the king, he offended Robespierre and was imprisoned eleven months. Before his arrest he had written Part One of The Age of Reason, and Parts Two and Three appeared in 1795 and 1807. In this he decried atheism and Christianity and advocated deism. He returned to America in 1802, became a drunkard, and died at New York, June 8, 1809. See Leslie Stephen's History of English Thought in the 18th Century.