Thomas Paine | Common Sense, Rights of Man & American Crisis

Thomas Paine Summary

Thomas Paine’s The American (Also known as The Crisis) comprises a series of sixteen pamphlets published between 1776 and 1783. Paine aimed to stoke colonists’ discontent against England in The American Crisis. Paine earned enormous popularity for his pamphlet, Common Sense, which argued for the independence of the thirteen colonies. The American Crisis is Paine’s emotional appeal to his fellow citizens’ patriotism and religious faith to support the revolution.

Facts About Thomas Paine

BornFebruary 9, 1737, Thetford, U.K
DiedJune 8, 1809, at the age of 72, in New York
WifeMary lambert
ParentsJoseph Paine > and Frances Cocke

Thomas Paine Early Life

Thomas Paine was born on the 7th of February 1737 in Thetford Norfolk England he was the son of a Quaker father called Joseph and an Anglican mother called Francis.

He attended Thetford grammar school between the ages of 7 and 13, after which he was apprenticed to his father, who was a stay maker, stay being a word no longer used for what is now called a corset in around 1756 when he was about 20 years old Thomas moved to London.

Thomas Paine (Political Activist)

He would never return to Thetford however he did return to his father’s trade when in 1759 he opened a shop at 20 new street in sandwich Kent the building still stands, and there’s a plaque on the wall above the door identifying it as Tom Paine’s cottage.


It was in a sandwich where he met a local girl called Mary lambert. On the 27th of September 1759, the couple was married at St. Peter’s church, after which Mary almost immediately became pregnant with their first child. Less than a year later, tragedy struck when shortly after the couple had moved to Margate, Mary went into early labor. She and the child both died.

Thomas became an excise officer in various locations at the whim of the board of excise. He was appointed to Lewis in Sussex in 1768. He lived above Bull House, where he opened a tobacco shop. During that time, Thomas began to engage in politics and became a member of the court elite which governed the town. He also met his second wife during this time, Elizabeth olive, and they were married on the 26th of march 1771.

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Thomas Paine Common Sense

Common Sense
Thomas Paine Write a Common Sense

As the war entered its second year, many Americans still hoped to avoid a complete break with the British Empire. Still, even as news of the defeat in Canada reached Continental Congress in Philadelphia, support for an absolute break with Britain was growing. Where was this sentiment coming from?

While the politicians bickered, people across the colonies were reading an argument for independence far more powerful than any yet made by an American.

In January of 1776, Thomas Paine, an Englishman who had been in the American colonies for less than two years, assaulted the concept of peace with Britain, scoffing at the idea that King George III should be viewed as the symbolic father of the country.

“The value of an honest man in the eyes of God and to society is greater than all crowns ruffians that ever lived,” Paine wrote. He referred to the king as “the royal brute of Great Britain” before hacking away at the idea that the Mother Country nurtured America and made her rich within the British empire.”Nothing can be more fallacious (unsound) than that kind of argument,” Paine declared.

Paine stated that America suffered because of its connection to England because of the endless European wars that it had been dragged into. He also argued that the distance between America and England and their stark difference in size were other arguments for independence. “There is something absurd in supposing a continent to be perpetually governed by an island ,” he wrote. Paine wrote that “a new era in politics is struck” and that all proposals for reconciliation made no sense since blood had been shed.

Paine backed this argument with a claim that it was now America’s mission to be a champion of liberty. In bold language, the 47-page pamphlet called for complete independence from Britain, arguing that it was “common sense” to stop following the “royal brute”.

He declared that the American struggle was not simply one over taxes but a struggle for freedom. Paine argued that citizens, not kings or queens, should make laws.

The pamphlet caught the attention of many Americans, changing the way that many viewed the king. It made powerful arguments for creating economic freedom for America and the colonist’s right to military self-defense. Paine cried out against tyranny (abuse of government power), and the public listened 120,000 copies of Common Sense rolled off of the presses in the first three months – the equivalent of selling almost 20 million books in modern America.

Common Sense went through 25 printings in 1776 alone, selling more than 500,000 copies in America and Europe. It was printed in multiple newspapers and read at town meetings throughout the colonies. Paine published the work anonymously (without his name) and donated the royalties to George Washington’s Army, galvanizing the call to war and helping to fund it.

Impact of Common Sense

The impact of common sense this pamphlet is a considerable success and pushes the majority of colonists in favor of full-on independence it was written in a style that was very easy for everyone to understand and publish the newspapers throughout.

The colonies it was very forward-thinking for the day we take the idea of independence as the obvious choice back then but it wasn’t so simple England was the most extensive world power of the day they had just won a significant war against France that solidified their influence around the world and independence would be no easy thing against them also every country in the world.

at this time is on a monarchy of some type when Thomas Paine is sitting here calling for independent elections it was very brave thinking however its most significant impact five months after it was published the second continental congress met in Philadelphia and mainly because of its popularity they decided to write the declaration of independence stating their desire once and for all to break away from England.

The American Crisis (1776)

American Crisis
the first page of the original printing of the American crisis

In December of 1776, as George Washington‘s army retreated towards the Delaware River, Thomas Paine, the author of the sensational pamphlet Common Sense, published The Crisis, No.1, the first of a series he would release throughout the American Revolution.

The essays demonstrate Paine’s ongoing support for an independent and self-governing America. General Washington found the first essay so inspiring that he ordered it be read to the troops four days before the Battle of Trenton (and again at Valley Forge). November and early December 1776 marked the low point for the American Revolutionary effort. With Washington’s army on the verge of disintegrating.

Thomas Paine sensed the oncoming panic of the American public and once again grabbed up his pen to bolster the American cause. On a drumhead sitting next to an army campfire, he wrote the opening words to The Crisis, No. 1. these are the times that try men’s souls.

In this crisis, the summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will shrink from their country’s service, but he that stands by it now deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny. It is not easily conquered, yet we have this consolation that the more complex the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.

What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; it would be strange if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should be rated low. Britain, with an army to enforce her tyranny, has declared that she has a right not only to TAX but “to BIND us in ALL CASES WHATSOEVER”, and if being bound in that manner is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth. Even the expression is impious; for so unlimited a power can belong only to God.

Paine went on to insist that Americans were far from beaten .’This surprising to see how rapidly a panic will sometimes run through a country. All nations and ages have been subject to them. Yet alarms, in some cases, have their uses; they produce as much good as hurt. Their duration is always short; the mind soon grows through them and acquires a firmer habit than before.”

The Crisis, No.1 originally appeared in The Pennsylvania Journal before being printed in pamphlet form. For many Americans, the patriot victories at Trenton and Princeton seemed to give Paine’s words a prophetic aura. No matter how dire a situation seemed, Paine always maintained an optimistic view that the Americans would emerge victorious, “for though the flame of liberty may sometimes cease to shine, the coal can never expire.”

In all, Thomas Paine wrote eighteen essays that rekindled the Patriot fire throughout the war. As he did with Common Sense, Paine donated the revenue to the American cause, refusing to take a single cent for authoring some of the most stirring words ever written in American history.

First Pamphlet

In 1772 and in an effort to seek better pay and working conditions from parliament Paine wrote his first pamphlet entitled the case of the offices of excise four thousand copies of which were distributed to the members of the house as well as other influential people in London two years later he was dismissed from the excise service for being absent without permission more bad luck would follow later that year as his tobacco shop business also failed and he formally separated from his wife.

By September of 1774, Paine had moved to London and was introduced to Benjamin franklin by the commissioner of the excise George Lewis Scott during a conversation with Paine franklin recommended that he moved to the British colonies in America and provided Paine with a letter of recommendation to help him do so by the 30th of November Thomas found himself in Philadelphia ready to start the next chapter of his life.

Thomas became a citizen of Pennsylvania and became editor of the Pennsylvania magazine a role which he seemed to take to like a duck to water two years after his arrival in America he produced one of his most famous pieces of work entitled common sense which popularized ideas for an independent American republic that was previously only discussed in privileged circles during the course of the American revolutionary war which was already underway over half a million copies of common sense were sold.

Thomas Paine followed up common sense with a series of pamphlets called the American crisis George Washington had the booklet read aloud to his troops in order to inspire them during their battles with the British in a later brochure it was Paine who coined the term United States of America.


In 1777 Paine joined the congressional committee on foreign affairs as its secretary. He resigned from the post due to certain indiscretions, but that didn’t stop him from receiving an estate in New Rochelle, New York, thanks for his services. He also received money from the state of Pennsylvania and congress.

Rights of Man

In 1787 Thomas Paine traveled back to England in an unofficial capacity as American ambassador. He met Thomas Jefferson in London and became interested in the French revolution.

He produced his subsequent great work entitled rights of man again on the theme of revolutionary change. It was published in 1791 and sold over a million copies Paine immediately followed this up with ownership of man part the second, combining Principle and practice.

French Arrest

The Rights of Man
The Rights of Man by Thomas Paine

In February 1792, the French lapped it up, and Paine, along with alexander Hamilton George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, were made honorary French citizens; however, Payne argued against the execution of the king and fell into disfavor with those now in power in particular French politician Maximilian Robespierre.

Paine ended up being arrested, and imprisoned arguments were made for Paine’s release but to no avail and he was marked for execution his look held though as the jailer placed the chalk mark identifying those prisoners to be executed on the inside of Payne’s cell door which was open because he’d been receiving visitors rather than the outside so when the executioners came to call he closed the door, and they didn’t see the mark

The Age of Reason

The Age of Reason
The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine

During his time in prison, Thomas Paine formulated his final great work, published as a series of pamphlets in 1794, 1795, and 1807. the age of reason was an argument against faith and in favor of the defense, stating that the bible was a piece of literature written by men rather than a sacred text, and it highlighted what pain saw as corruption in the church. The age of reason was a massive hit in the united states but was met with a somewhat more extraordinary reaction in England and France.

Political Trouble

In around 1802 Payne left France and returned to America, but he ran into political trouble due to the thoughts he had expressed in the age of reason and because of an earlier attack he had launched on George Washington, whom he had believed had conspired with Robespierre to have him imprisoned his right to vote in New Rochelle was revoked as governor Morris did not recognize his American citizenship

Thomas Paine Death

Thomas Paine died on June 8, 1809 (age 72) at 59 Grove Street. Which is in Greenwich Village, New York City. And that building no longer exists, there is a plaque in the present building on which it is written that this was the death of Thomas Paine. After his death, his body was taken to New Rochelle, but the Quakers refused to have Paine buried in their cemetery for their last wish, so Paine was buried under a walnut tree in their farm.

Death mask of Thomas Paine
Death mask of Thomas Paine in New York Historical Society.

People Also Ask?

What is Thomas Paine most famous for?

Thomas Paine was so famous for Common Sense Rights of man, and American Crisis.

What did Thomas Paine believe in?

Paine believed in God, but often asked to avoid organized religion. Atheism is often mistakenly confused.

Why was Thomas Paine important to the American Revolution?

In December of 1776, as George Washington’s army retreated towards the Delaware River, Thomas Paine, would release throughout the American Revolution.

What is the main idea of Thomas Paine’s Common Sense?

In January of 1776, Thomas Paine, an Englishman who had been in the American colonies for less than two years, assaulted the concept of peace with Britain, scoffing at the idea that King George III should be viewed as the symbolic father of the country.

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