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Thomas Paine was born 29th of January 1737, at Metford, in the county of Norfolk, England. He was trained to the business of a stay maker, and afterwards obtained a situation in the Customs and the management of a tobacco manufactory; but he fell into debt and was dismissed in 1774. He then came to America and took the side of the colonies against England. In 1776 he published “Common Sense,” which is a strong appeal for the freedom of the colonies. He was appointed by Congress secretary of the committee on Foreign affairs and visited France in 1787 where he made the acquaintance of Buffon, Malesherves and other leading men.
In 1791 he went to England and published his “Rights of Man,” which is a reply to Burke’s “Reflections on the French Revolution.” On his return to France he was elected in 1792 a deputy to the National Convention and acted with the Girondist party. He opposed the execution of Louis XVI and wanted that unhappy monarch exiled to America. This proposition gave offense to Robespierre, who caused Paine to be put in prison where he was detained fourteen months.
During his imprisonment he wrote his famous work “The Age of Reason.” He argues in favor of Deism but against Christianity. He was released from prison at the intercession of the United States Government, and restored to his seat in the Convention. Napoleon said that it was his intention when he conquered England to make Paine introduce a popular form of government there.
In 1802 Paine returned to the United States and devoted the remainder of his days to the study of finance. He died on the 8th of June, 1809.
The News (Frederick, Maryland) Jan 28, 1886