Born on this day: Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine (January 29, 1737 – June 8 1809) was an English American intellectual, scholar, revolutionary, deist and political and religious thinker, who spent much of his time in America and France. A radical pamphleteer, Paine anticipated and helped foment the American Revolution through his powerful writings, most notably Common Sense, an incendiary pamphlet advocating independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain. An advocate of liberalism and a Freemason, he outlined his political philosophy in Rights of Man, written both as a reply to Edmund Burke's view of the French Revolution and as a general political philosophy treatise as well as Common Sense, a treatise on the benefits of personal liberty and limited government, in which he considers society a representation of human ideals, and government a necessary evil. In Agrarian Justice he argued for a form of welfare state and social security provisions for the old, and a capital sum for the young to set them up in their adult career. Paine was also noteworthy for his support of deism, taking its form in his treatise on religion The Age of Reason, as well as for his eye-witness accounts of both the French and American Revolutions.

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