Thomas Paine

"He had lived long, did some good and much harm."


Early Life

  • Born in Thetford, England on January 29, 1737
  • Failed school at 12 and entered apprenticeship with father
  • Mother an Anglican and Father a Quaker

Later life and literary works

  • As a tax officer, wrote his first editorial The Case of the Officers of Excise (1772) for officer pay raise
  • Met Benjamin Franklin in 1774 and moved to Philadelphia
  • Common Sense (1776) was one of his most famous works, it helped spur the push for independence
  • Other works criticized slavery, the French Revolution, the church, and encouraged soldiers during the American Revolution. (From 1775-1796)
  • Was banned from England for anti-monarchy views
  • Imprisoned for not supporting Louis XVI's execution
  • Freed in 1794 with help of James Monroe, returned to states in 1802
  • Was unpopular because of his religious beliefs
  • Died on June 8, 1809 in New York City
  • He was 72

Contribution to colonial development or independance

Thomas Paine was well known for his literary works. Many, if not all, were critical of certain social and political aspects such as slavery, the church, and government. One of his most famous works, Common Sense, contributed to colonial independence because he educated the public about Britain's grip on the colonies. It stated that inevitably the colonies would break off from Britain; it was common sense. Due to the printing press, he sold roughly 500,000 copies of his pamphlet to patriots and loyalist all around thus stirring the pot and spurring the desire for independence.

During the war, he enlisted in the Continental Army, but he decided that he would best fight the war with words and not muskets. In 1776 to 1783, The American Crisis inspired the weary soldiers to continue fighting for their long coveted independence. Throughout his life in America, he was a patriot and heavily opposed the British crown in Common Sense and other literary works. Had he not have written Common Sense or The American Crisis, the desire for independence and the will to keep pursuing it would not have been as strong.


Definition: The quality of being and honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness

How he displayed integrity: He stood up for his political views on gaining independence from Great Britain by writing the well known pamphlet Common Sense. He wrote other pamphlets such as The American Crisis, and in all of his writings his high standard of morality is displayed. He had a sense of honesty and felt he needed to speak up for what he thought was the truth and needed to be changed or "revolutionized". In Common Sense, he encourages the reader to make a strong and immediate decision to completely break ties with England to better America as an independent country. Thomas Paine also encouraged many men to join the military to have a stronger fight against England. Paine's intentions were almost always a display of his moral character and integrity.


Definition: The state of being vested with the rights, privileges, and duties of a citizen.

How he displayed Citizenship: As an official citizen of Pennsylvania, Paine became editor of the Pennsylvania magazine. He did his best to inform the colonists about how the colonies were bound to free from England in his book Common Sense. He displayed his citizenship by siding with the colonists instead of the loyalists in the American Revolution.