Thomas Paine lived a remarkable life of great significance. From humble beginnings in Thetford, Norfolk, Paine used his desire to further the cause of social justice to provide himself with the intellect and skills to communicate to a wide audience. After a formative period in Lewes, Sussex, Paine left for Philadelphia where his essays, ‘Common Sense’ and ‘Crisis,’ helped to fuel the American drive for Independence. Paine then had a hand in the French Revolution where his essay ‘Rights of Man’ provided a justification for the revolution and the ‘Age of Reason’ challenged the power of the established church. Paine was also a founder of the movement against slavery in America. Paine died in New York, friendless  – unpopular through his expressed  disillusionment with what he saw as the corruption of the new Independent government in America and because of the enemies he made through his critique of the Christian Church. Barak Obama used a quotation from Paine’s Crisis in his 2008 presidential inauguration speech.

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