In "Thomas Paine, America's First Public Intellectual," Woods puts forth the thesis that the primary distinguishing factor that separated Thomas Paine from the other founding fathers was a sense of not belonging--even though most of the founding fathers considered themselves to be American as much as citizens of the world, Paine was "a man without a home, without a country, truly a citizen of the world"; even though the other founding fathers assimilated into a gentry class through their educations, Paine was never able to shake off his common roots. This was both an advantage and a disadvantage to Paine: he was able to relate well to the common man and wrote in down-to-earth language ("There was something direct and earthly about Paine. He wore no masks over his fiery black eyes" as opposed to Franklin, who despite sharing the same background as Paine, did.) This helped to make his "Common Sense" immensely popular, and his detachment from America allowed him to comment neutrally on politics (or so he claimed). However, he was looked down upon by his peers for being "without connections." This dichotomy of disconnectedness from the gentry producing both the benefits of honest criticism and reliability to the masses but also the negatives of isolation from politics is reflected in modern times by the emphasis many politicians place on being "one of the people:" Because they are politicians, they are able to retain their political influence but they emulate Paine's techniques of writing to a low reading level and exposing their emotions to spread their message across the people.
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