Full Text

Paine, Thomas (1737–1809)

Stacy Warner Maddern


Writing of “the times that try men's souls” in his essay The Crisis , Thomas Paine issued the battle-cry of the American Revolution . Paine communicated ideas of revolution to peasants and intellectuals alike, creating prose that would both inspire passion and receive tremendous ridicule. Paine would incite revolution in America, Britain, and France, addressing every class of people without discrimination, envisioning a society that was free of slavery, advocating world peace, and demanding security for both poor and elderly. Born in England in 1737, the son of a Quaker corset maker, Paine's empathy for the poor came from childhood observations of suffering and violence at the hands of the state. These experiences would leave deep scars on Paine, manifesting distaste for excessive wealth and compassion for the poor. By the time he came to America, Paine had discovered a distinct relationship between affluence and distress. On January 10, 1776 he published anonymously a pamphlet entitled Common Sense that made a persuasive argument for the American colonies to separate, politically and economically, from Britain. He began by defining the “origin and design of government” in order to show Americans that they were a people with exceptional purpose and promise. In drawing a line between society and government he claimed “society in every state is a blessing, but government, even ... log in or subscribe to read full text

Log In

You are not currently logged-in to Blackwell Reference Online

If your institution has a subscription, you can log in here:


     Forgotten your password?

Find out how to subscribe.

Your library does not have access to this title. Please contact your librarian to arrange access.

[ access key 0 : accessibility information including access key list ] [ access key 1 : home page ] [ access key 2 : skip navigation ] [ access key 6 : help ] [ access key 9 : contact us ] [ access key 0 : accessibility statement ]

Blackwell Publishing Home Page

Blackwell Reference Online ® is a Blackwell Publishing Inc. registered trademark
Technology partner: Semantico Ltd.

Blackwell Publishing and its licensors hold the copyright in all material held in Blackwell Reference Online. No material may be resold or published elsewhere without Blackwell Publishing's written consent, save as authorised by a licence with Blackwell Publishing or to the extent required by the applicable law.

Back to Top