Biography of Thomas Paine (1737-1809)

Thomas Paine.

Writer, philosopher and British politician, born 29 January 1737 in Thetford and died in New York on 8 July 1809.


He was born in a little wealthy Quaker family. Did not receive a good education, since it soon had to work against their wishes in the family business, occupation that left in 1756 to enlist in the Navy. He later also worked as a customs officer, but he was fired and had to engage in various trades at the time expanding his literary training. In 1774, unable to do against the numerous debts accumulated, decided to move to America, and established in Philadelphia, served as director of the Pennsylvania magazine or American Museum, in which it had the opportunity to publish articles against slavery that enjoyed large success.

It was in 1776 when he published his famous work Common Sense (common sense), which showed supporter of American independence, point of view, which was confirmed in its second production, The Crisis (1977), which became required reading for the independence army.

Back to his country, published the rights of man (1791), written by way of exhortation that Britain was constituted in Republic, and whose genesis was set after the lively and pleasant impression that had been the French Revolution. For this reason, he was persecuted and exiled to France, where he was elected member of the Convention. In this context, opposed the execution of Luis XVI and instead voted its banishment, which earned him the enmity of Marat and Robespierre, who proclaimed him enemy of the revolution. He was then imprisoned and remained deprived of liberty for year, after which did not engage in politics. At the time of its closure it had written the first part of the age of reason, that attacking Christianity, and therefore caused a great scandal in England and in the United States.

He stayed a few years in Paris, occupied in the founding of the sect of the Teophilanthropos, but then returned to move to the United States. He failed to be accepted as before in this country, forcing him to live somewhat retired, while returning to accumulate numerous debts and was delivered to his fondness for drink. Bad habits ended up undermining his health and in 1809 the death befell him.


Among the many works he wrote, two of them stand out as the most famous. The first is Common Sense, a plea in favour of American independence that had inestimable influence and that was one of the sources that inspired the authors of the "Declaration of independence". In it he stated that the colonies of North America not seen never benefit from the metropolis, only aimed at the exploitation of its riches, so was the establishment of an independent Republican government as the most sensible option.

The second of his popularity, the age of reason, also led him to the center of the controversy, since it argued points of view deists (see Deism), which many mistook for an apparent atheism.

In addition to those mentioned above, include also the following works of British author: Case of the officers of Excise (1773), Epistle to the people called Quakers (1776), Montgomery and American Dialogue between general delegate (1776), Letter to the abbe Raynal (1782), Thoughts on the Peace (1783), Dissertation on Government (1786), Prospects on the Rubicon (1787), Address and declaration of the friends of Universal Peace and Liberty (1791)Letter to the Abbé Sieyès (1792), Address to the Republic of France (1792), Speech in Convention on bringing Louis Capet on Trial (1792), Reasons for wishing to preserve the life of Louis Capet (1793), Agrarian justice opposed to agrarian law (1797), Letter to People of France and the French armies (1797), Letter to Erskine (1797), Letter to Camille Jourdan on Bells (1797)Maritime compact: on the Rights of Neutrals at sea (1801), Letters to Citizens of the United States (1802), Letter to the People of England on the Invasion of England (1804), On the causes of Yellow Fever (1805), On Constituciones Governments and Churters (1805), Observations on Gumboats (1806) and Discourse to the Thes phylantropists, among others. There are also editions of their political and theological works.