On January 29, 1737, Thomas Paine was born in Norfolk, England. At a young age he left school and was taught his father's trade; women's corsets. A few years later he decided to go to sea, but learned he disliked it. He then worked at several different jobs in London. In 1774, he met Benjamin Franklin who encouraged Thomas to travel to America. When he arrived in Philadelphia, he wrote scientific inventions and about American injustices, mostly involving England's treatment. His writing led him to converse and meet with other supporters of independence. Thomas was friends with John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry and Samuel Adams. They all agreed that war was drawing near.
Thomas Paine published "Common Sense" on January 1, 1776. In Paine's dramatic writing style, it exploited Great Britain, stating that America did not receive but always give to the mother country. It then went on to say that it was common sense for the members of the colonies to become independent from Great Britain and set up their own government. "Common Sense" was published anonymously and sold over 500,000 copies. Loyalists to England called the pamphlet treason but many others praised it. Subjects of freedom and revolution started to intensify. As talk grew, Thomas Jefferson began a draft of the Declaration of Independence.
After the declaration was approved and the revolution started, Thomas fought in the war he so highly believed in. During the many losses, General George Washington requested Paine to write some words of encouragement for the soldiers. He wrote "American Crisis" throughout the revolution. Washington had them read to improve morale in the camp. The first of the series began with the famous quote, "These are the times that try men's souls." The purpose of these letters was to give the people hope and to be a reminder of the goal they were fighting for; freedom. Thomas received a Master of Arts degree by the University of Pennsylvania for all his contributions to America. In 1778 Thomas was appointed secretary of the committee of foreign affairs by Congress. He was clerk of the Pennsylvania legislature when he lost his other position. New York State gave him a Royalist farm in New Rochelle and Congress awarded him $3,000 in 1785.
With the war over, Paine focused his time on inventing. His most famous creation was the iron bridge. In 1787 Paine returned to England where his bridge was being built. During this time the French Revolution began. Paine wrote "Rights of Man," in 1701-92 to show his support. While in France many were calling him a hero, several of the English and Americans viewed him as an enemy. Thomas soon fled to France when the British government indicted him for treason.
The Frenchman elected Paine as a deputy to the National Convention. Thomas then found himself in prison for 11 months for offending Maximilien de Robespierre. When he was released in 1794, he was given back his National Convention seat. He published three parts of his book, "The Age of Reason." It contained many of his religious beliefs that were misunderstood and opposed.
Paine returned to America in 1802. Most of his friends abandoned him because of his last book and even more had forgotten about him. Yet President Thomas Jefferson welcomed him back and found him work in his cabinet. Thomas Paine died in New York City on June 8, 1809.