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About the Author:
A participant in both the American and French Revolutions and in the governments that first arose from them, Thomas Paine is best remembered as the highly popular pamphleteer whose incendiary Common Sense was largely responsible for motivating the American colonists to declare independence. He was born in England on January 29, 1737, and his impoverished early life offered scant evidence of the qualities that would later elevate him to literary and historical prominence. Taking the first available opportunity to improve his lot, he moved to America in 1775, coincidentally arriving at the time when revolutionary fervor was just taking hold.
History has come to regard him as the figure who gave political cogency to the liberating ideas of the Enlightenment, and his great pamphlets, Common Sense and Rights of Man, are seen as classic arguments in defense of the individual's right to assert his or her freedom in the face of tyranny.