The Anglo-American writer and political theorist Thomas Paine (1737-1809) boldly spoke out for social and political reforms, and played an active role in the American War of Independence. His great and highly influential pamphlet, Common Sense, published in January 1776, was the first bold, explicit assault on monarchical rule, and the first advocacy of the American colonies' independence from Britain.
Written in clear language, Common Sense laid out how an independent government could be established and controlled by the people, and how rich and poor alike could share equally in privileges and duties. It was Paine's enlightened contention that in order to ensure liberty, no special preferments should be attached to any one religious sect, but that religious diversity should be respected.
About the Author
English-born Thomas Paine left behind hearth and home for adventures on the high seas at nineteen. Upon returning to shore, he became a tax officer, and it was this job that inspired him to write The Case of the Officers of Excise in 1772. Paine then immigrated to Philadelphia, and in 1776 he published Common Sense, a defense of American independence from England. After returning to Europe, Paine wrote his famous Rights of Man as a response to criticism of the French Revolution. He was subsequently labeled as an outlaw, leading him to flee to France where he joined the National Convention. However, in 1793 Paine was imprisoned, and during this time he wrote the first part of The Age of Reason, an anti-church text which would go on to be his most famous work. After his release, Paine returned to America where he passed away in 1809.