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Thomas Paine: From Pirate to Revolutionary

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02/23/2010Jeff Riggenbach

Paine became a privateer in 1753 to locate and rob enemy ships in order to escape his family business - corset making. The blunt but brilliant Paine was helped by Benjamin Franklin to join the American Revolution as editor and writer. Common Sense was a huge success.

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."

"These are the times that try men's souls..." Paine wrote in The American Crisis pamphlet series. General Washington had this read to his soldiers. Paine suggested the phrase United States of America. The Rights of Man was popular in France, but not in America. The Age of Reason was about deism, not atheism as was thought. All three books were high sellers, perhaps because Paine wrote to be read aloud.


Podcast episode for 23 February 2010. Jeff Riggenbach is a journalist, author, editor, broadcaster, and educator. [28:12]

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