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Mr. Ulmschneider's Forums > AP Government: Madison, Paine, and Politics

The Age of Paine?

posted Dec 16, 2012 23:26:00 by AbbyWilliams
Thomas Paine was a writer, and a good one at that, but should his "ability to put into readable form what others had conceived of" really qualify him to be remembered as a founding fathers? He was not an "original thinker", nor did he ever "utter a new thought" in any of his work. He wrote many great pieces like Common Sense, Rights of Men, and American crisis, which were all full of intellectual and bold thoughts on society,none of those ideas however belonged to Paine. Gordon Woods writes about Paine's life and accomplishments and tries to reason why he is so forgotten by many, and not given credit of being a founding father. Maybe it was his lack of gentlemanly qualities, or the fact that he spent his first 35 years of life in England and then later moved back to England after the revolution, never truly becoming an American. I however believe he never earned founding father status because he just doesn't match up with the others and what they did. Men like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, were all great men filled with new and bold ideas for America. They all dedicated their lives to shaping and founding America and that is why they deserve the title of founding father. Paine was a great writer and was able to put other's ideas into words the common man could understand; he got the word out, but "the United States was not home, just a symbol for him". Paine was a great writer,and will be remembered as one, but that is all. To be remembered and to be honored with the title of founding father, America has to be your everything, not just a phase in your life.
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2 replies
LinhQuan said Dec 17, 2012 00:09:08
I agree with you in that American wasn't the most important thing to Paine, but I think he was more than just a mere writer during the blossoming of America. He was an inspirational figure to the people and acted as a voice for them. His writing connected with the people and that's still relevant today. Political figures tend to connect to leaders who seem relatable because it makes the people feel the the leader is like them.
AbbyWilliams said Dec 17, 2012 01:19:32
He may have been an inspirational figure at times, but in the end he became very disliked and was branded a "lying, drunken, atheist." I'm not taking anything away from his contributions to America's fight for freedom, he did inspire the people and did get the word out about the importance of liberty through his writing, but I find that people remember his work more then him. His work was inspirational and in depth and did a great job of translating the ideas of others into words everyone could understand. He however was remembered as a drunk and slob and towards the end not very respected. He may have been an inspirational figure for a moment, but that moment seemed to be a fleeting one. Like Benjamin Rush said after the publication of Common Sense, "From such a high point his reputation in America could only decline." and that is what it did. I do however agree that the people today like leaders who are considered "one of us" and that if Paine existed in today's time, his ability to write and connect with the people along with his "common man" persona, would make him more popular than he was in his day.
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