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Thomas Paine (February 9, 1737 [O.S. January 29, 1736[1]] – June 8, 1809) was an author, pamphleteer, radical, inventor, intellectual, revolutionary, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.[2][3] Born in England, Paine emigrated to the British American colonies in 1774 in time to participate in the American Revolution. His principal contributions were the powerful, widely-read pamphlet Common Sense (1776), advocating colonial America's independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain, and The American Crisis (1776–1783), a pro-revolutionary pamphlet series. The historian Saul K. Padover in the biography Jefferson: A Great American's Life and Ideas, refers to Paine as "a corsetmaker by trade, a journalist by profession, and a propagandist by inclination."[4]

Paine greatly influenced the French Revolution. He wrote the Rights of Man (1791), a guide to Enlightenment ideas. Despite not speaking French, he was elected to the French National Convention in 1792. The Girondists regarded him as an ally, so, the Montagnards, especially Robespierre, regarded him as an enemy. In December of 1793, he was arrested and imprisoned in Paris, then released in 1794. He became notorious because of The Age of Reason (1793–94), his book advocating deism, promoting reason and freethinking, and arguing against institutionalized religion and Christian doctrines.[3] He also wrote the pamphlet Agrarian Justice (1795), discussing the origins of property, and introduced the concept of a guaranteed minimum income.

Paine remained in France during the early Napoleonic era, but condemned Napoleon's dictatorship, calling him "the completest charlatan that ever existed".[5] In 1802, at President Jefferson's invitation, he returned to America where he died in 1809. Only six people attended his funeral as he had been ostracized for his criticisms and ridicule of Christianity.[6]

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