"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like
men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it. "
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Common Sense, written as part of a series of pamphlets and entitled The
American Crisis IV and signed Common Sense.
Anglo-American political theorist and writer, born in Thetford, Norfolk,
England. An excise officer, he was dismissed from the service in 1772 after
leading arguments for higher salaries. Paine emigrated to America in 1774,
bearing letters of introduction from Benjamin Franklin, who was then in
England. He soon became involved in the clashes between England and the
American colonies and published the enormously successful pamphlet Common
Sense in 1776, in which he argued that the colonies had outgrown any need
for English domination and should be given independence. Later that year, he
wrote the first of a series of 16 pamphlets called The Crisis (1776–83).
These essays were widely distributed and did much to encourage the patriot
cause throughout the American Revolution. After the war he returned to his
farm in New Rochelle, N.Y. In 1787 he went to England and while there wrote
The Rights of Man (2 parts, 1791 and 1792), which defended the French
Revolution in reply to Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in
France. Its basic premises were that there are natural rights common to all
men and that only democratic institutions are able to guarantee these
rights. Paine’s attack on English institutions led to his prosecution for
treason, Paine then left for Paris. There, as a member of the National
Convention, he took a significant part in French affairs. During the Reign
of Terror he was imprisoned for about one year. During this time he wrote
his famous deistic, antibiblical work The Age of Reason (2 parts, 1794 and
1795), which alienated many people. His diatribe against George Washington,
Letter to Washington (1796), added more fuel to the persisting resentment
against him. When Paine returned to the United States in 1802, he was
practically ostracized; he died in poverty seven years later.