Jeff Harman speaks with George Alger about Thomas Paine, including his accomplishments and controversy.
Paine was an English-born American political activist, philosopher, political theorist, and revolutionary. He authored the two most influential pamphlets at the start of the American Revolution and inspired the patriots in 1776 to declare independence from Great Britain.
Paine migrated to the British American colonies in 1774 with the help of Benjamin Franklin, arriving just in time to participate in the American Revolution. Virtually every rebel read his pamphlet Common Sense, proportionally the all-time best-selling American title, which crystallized the rebellious demand for independence from Great Britain. His The American Crisis was a pro-revolutionary pamphlet series. Common Sense was so influential that John Adams said: “Without the pen of the author of Common Sense, the sword of Washington would have been raised in vain”.
Paine lived in France for most of the 1790s, becoming deeply involved in the French Revolution. He wrote Rights of Man, in part a defense of the French Revolution against its critics.
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