Tom Paine was one of the most important political intellectuals of the late eighteenth century. His political writings influenced the move from monarchical to elective government in Europe and North America and they remain foundational contributions to democratic philosophy. Paine wrote in the language of the ‘ordinary people’ to expose the supposed innate superiority of monarchs and aristocrats as designed to keep the poor poor and the rich rich. He held that all humans are created equal and should have the same inalienable political and civil rights. His most famous works were

Common Sense

(1776) which argued the intellectual case for American independence and

Rights of Man

(1792) which defended the revolution in France and gave further detail to his political philosophy.

Early Life

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Citation: Clark, Robert. "Thomas Paine". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 06 May 2023 [, accessed 25 May 2024.]

3456 Thomas Paine 1 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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