Thomas Paine was born in Thetford, England, in 1737, the son of a staymaker. He had little schooling and worked at a number of jobs, including tax collector, a position he lost for agitating for an increase in excisemen’s pay. Persuaded by Benjamin Franklin, he emigrated to America in 1774. In 1776 he began his American Crisis series of thirteen pamphlets, and also published the incalculably influential Common Sense, which established Paine not only as a truly revolutionary thinker, but as the American Revolution’s fiercest political theorist. In 1787 Paine returned to Europe, where he became involved in revolutionary politics. In England his books were burned by the public hangman. Escaping to France, Paine took part in drafting the French constitution and voted against the king’s execution. He was imprisoned for a year and narrowly missed execution himself. In 1802 he returned to America and lived in New York State, poor, ill and largely despised for his extremism and so-called atheism (he was in fact a deist). Thomas Paine died in 1809. His body was exhumed by William Cobbett, and the remains were taken to England for a memorial burial. Unfortunately, the remains were subsequently lost.
The Age Of Reasonby Thomas Paine
"Of all the tyrannies that affect mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst," declared Thomas Paine, adding, "every other species of tyranny is limited to the world we live in; but this attempts to stride beyond the grave, and seeks to pursue us into eternity." Paine's years of study and reflection on the role of religion in society culminated with his final work, The… See more details below
"Of all the tyrannies that affect mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst," declared Thomas Paine, adding, "every other species of tyranny is limited to the world we live in; but this attempts to stride beyond the grave, and seeks to pursue us into eternity." Paine's years of study and reflection on the role of religion in society culminated with his final work, The Age of Reason. This coolly reasoned polemic influenced religious thinking throughout the world at the dawn of the nineteenth century, and its resonance remains undiminished by time. The selfsame humanist and egalitarian views that made Paine a popular figure of the American Revolution brought him into frequent conflict with political authorities. Parts of The Age of Reason were written in a French jail, where Paine was confined for his opposition to the execution of Louis XVI. An attack on revealed religion from the deist point of view -- embodied by Paine's credo, "I believe in one God, and no more" -- this work undertakes a hitherto unheard-of approach to Bible study. Its critical and objective examination of Old and New Testaments cites numerous contradictions as evidence against literal interpretations of the text. Well articulated and eminently readable, The Age of Reason is a classic of free thought.
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