In the article, Wood claims that Thomas Paine's ideas and writings played a significant role in shaping the American political culture. However, he also points out that "most Americans have never been able to make Paine a central figure." I find it very odd that Paine held such profound influence during the time period itself, yet his legacy is not as noted or studied in modern times. His pamphlets, particularly Common Sense, spread through the colonies with vengeance, as he sold over 150,000 copies in a time where pamphlets were commonly sold by the hundreds or low thousands. I find his influence hard to deny, yet I do not agree with either John Keane's idea that Paine was the "greatest public figure of his generation," or Wood's claim that Paine should be considered a founding father. Perhaps Paine's influence has faded in our minds because Paine did not write with originality. He held many of the same ideals as other heroes and ideologists of that time, with the only distinction being his ability to put them into words. Similarly, I think many Americans neglect Paine's influence because he was never truly connected to America, but instead was considered "a citizen of the world." As Paine concerned himself with many nations other than America, including France and Britain, people may minimize his importance and deny him the position of a founding father. Maybe his impact has faded because he never had the same traits as our typical historical heroes, particularly the status of a gentleman. In reality, Paine's sole contribution was his ability to relay revolutionary ideals to the public in a memorable, passionate way. Where Jefferson, Washington, and Franklin were directly involved in the political arena of the new born nation, Paine was simply a influential writer with a large audience.
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