In retrospect, I never realized how strange Paine’s prescence in our high school history books was. He floated out of the text like a pale ghost, mouthing the words “common sense.” And that, at least, was something we never had to study. Paine authorship of common sense had been ingrained in our minds since we were wee ones making avant-garde macaroni interpretations of Columbus. But then, like a sad and uncomfortable phantom, he was never mentioned again. Paine, “everyone could sense is noy like the other revolutionaries, not like Franklin, Washington, Adams, or Jefferson”. And yet, his legacy persists, in the most wondrous and fundamental ways. In a world where gentlemen filled their publications with words most “erudite, filled with Latin quotations, classical allusions, and historical citations…” Thomas Paine was the first to appeal to the drunken travern frequenters, to the weary blacksmiths and carpenters, to the “artisan centered worlds of the cities.” He demonstrated the full power of appealing to the people, leaving the eloquent worldly gentlemen standing aghast among their Latin embroidered ruins. Perhaps the most shocking attribute of Paine mentioned in his article is his fearless conviction to his own opinion. It is either admirably brave or admirably stupid to call Christianity “derogatory to the almighty…unedifying to man…repugnant to reason” And yet, with his dying obscurity, drunken demeanor, and almost impudent mistakes, we owe much to Thomas Paine. He brings with his legacy all the influence and importance of being the first, for without him there could be no second or third or millionth. The first man to say what he truly meant so eloquently, and more importantly, the first man to appeal to so many people and arm them with such fire.
Login below to reply: