Thomas Paine (January 29, 1737 (NS February 9, 1737) – June 8, 1809) was an English-American political activist, author, political theorist and revolutionary. As the author of two highly influential pamphlets at the start of the American Revolution, he inspired the America Patriots in 1776 to declare independence from Britain. His ideas reflected Enlightenment era rhetoric of transnational human rights.
Born in Thetford, England, in the county of Norfolk, Paine emigrated to the British American colonies in 1774 with the help of Benjamin Franklin and he arrivied in time to participate in the American Revolution. His principal contributions were the powerful, widely read pamphlet Common Sense (1776), the all-time best-selling American book that advocated colonial America's independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain, and The American Crisis (1776–83), a pro-revolutionary pamphlet series. Common Sense was so influential that John Adams said, "Without the pen of the author of Common Sense, the sword of Washington would have been raised in vain.”
Paine lived in France for most of the 1790s, becoming deeply involved in the French Revolution. He wrote the Rights of Man (1791), in part a defense of the French Revolution against its critics. His attacks on British writer Edmund Burke led to a trial and conviction in absentia in 1792 for the crime of seditious libel. In 1792, despite not speaking French, he was elected to the French National Convention. The Girondists regarded him as an ally. Consequently, the Montagnards, especially Robespierre, regarded him as an enemy. In December 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 that advocates deism, promotes reason and freethinking, and argues against institutionalized religion in general and Christian doctrine in particular. He also wrote the pamphlet Agrarian Justice (1795), discussing the origins of property, and introduced the concept of a guaranteed minimum income.
In 1802, he returned to America where he died on June 8, 1809. Only six people attended his funeral as he had been ostracized for his ridicule of Christianity.
"All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit." -- Thomas Paine, (1737-1809), The Age of Reason, pt. 1, "The Author's Profession of Faith" (1794), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations
"The study of theology, as it stands in Christian churches, is the study of nothing; it is founded on nothing; it rests on nothing; it proceeds by no authorities; it has no data; it can demonstrate nothing and admits of no conclusion." -- Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason (1793-5), quoted from Jonathon Green, The Cassell Dictionary of Cynical Quotations
"What is it the New Testament teaches us? To believe that the Almighty committed debauchery with a woman engaged to be married; and the belief of this debauchery is called faith." -- Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason (1794)
"The Bible: a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalise mankind." -- Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason (1793-5), quoted from Jonathon Green, The Cassell Dictionary of Cynical Quotations
"Independence is my happiness, and I view things as they are, without regard to place or person; my country is the world, and my religion is to do good." -- Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man
"I believe in the equality of man; and I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavoring to make our fellow-creatures happy." -- Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason
1.) Ronald Frederick King (2007). Elsie Begler. ed. Thomas Paine: Common Sense for the Modern Era. Lulu.com. ISBN 9781879691872.