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Synopsis

Thomas Paine (1737-1809) was an author, pamphleteer, radical, inventor, intellectual, revolutionary, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He has been called "a corsetmaker by trade, a journalist by profession, and a propagandist by inclination." Born in Thetford, in the English county of Norfolk, Paine emigrated to the British American colonies in 1774 in time to participate in the American Revolution. His principal contributions were the powerful, widely read pamphlet "Common Sense" (1776), advocating colonial America's independence from Great Britain, and "The American Crisis" (1776-1783), a pro-revolutionary pamphlet series. Paine was also deeply involved in the early stages of the French Revolution. He wrote the "Rights of Man" (1791), in part a defence of the French Revolution against its critics, in particular the British statesman Edmund Burke. Despite not speaking French, he was elected to the French National Convention in 1792. The Girondists regarded him as an ally, so, the Montagnards, especially Robespierre, regarded him as an enemy. In December of 1793, he was arrested and imprisoned in Paris, then released in 1794. He became notorious because of "The Age of Reason" (1793-94), his book advocating deism, promoting reason and freethinking, and arguing against institutionalized religion and Christian doctrines. He also wrote the pamphlet "Agrarian Justice" (1795), discussing the origins of property, and introduced the concept of a guaranteed minimum income.

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