Thomas Paine

I had heard of Thomas Paine before did not know much about the man. I knew that he came from Thetford in Norfolk near the bases but doing my American history classes, I have come to know that he is a huge figure in the the new United States.

Paine was born in Thetford and worked with his father as a corset maker. At the time Thetford was a very important market town.He attended the Thetford Grammar School which still stands today. He tried his hand at many other lines of work which never really worked out for him. He met Benjamin Franklin who suggested that he head to the colonies and he began to write in the newspapers there.

Like many people Paine wrote pamphlets and distributed his thoughts in this fashion which became quite common. One of his famed pamphlets is Common Sense, where he was the first to provoke the suggestion of independence from Great Britain.

Paine felt that it did not make sense that an island dictate to a continent. That while the people who are living in the British colonies are British but they have many influences from Europe. That the Mother Country should not inflict such pain on her children and that all men are created equal and therefore there was no need for the monarchy except to start wars and give away land.

This pamphlet made a huge impact because at the time the colonists made reading an important part of their lives and could not get enough of the books, pamphlets and newspapers which were thriving. The colonists at this time were better educated than the people in Europe. Paine also wrote in fashion which was easy to understand.

Paine was a forward thinker, a progressive in his time. He was also very keen on the redistribution of wealth. He also sought the implementation of many things that we take for granted today such as pensions, marriage allowance and maternity benefits. Although he was not a socialist, he believed that there were certain responsibilities that people to take one another and that the idea of welfare to be provided by the government which was to come from the taxes on the wealthy and distributed to the poor.

He returned to England and became very interested in the French Revolution. He wrote the Rights of Man, a book that dismissed the monarchy and the issues that the European society had with them. He was charged with treason and fled to France.

He was invited to return to America by President Jefferson but by the time he returned his impact was forgotten and he did miserably in 1809.

All the Best!

American to Britain