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

The Legacy of Thomas Paine

posted Dec 17, 2012 21:47:52 by KentRollins
Thomas Paine, the author of the revolutionary pamphlet "Common Sense", is widely considered to be one of the larger players in the American revolution and it's beginnings. His pamphlet explained America's separation from the British, to be a simple matter of "Common Sense", and that supporting the revolution was the only choice. In fact John Adams said regarding Thomas Paine, "Without the pen of the author of Common Sense, the sword of Washington would have been raised in vain". These glowing reviews lead one to wonder, how has such an influential and important person been largely forgotten as a "founding father". One reason for this could be Paine's relative lack of involvement in the framing of the constitution, or perhaps that he had only recently arrived in the states before the revolution began, and others may attribute this to his "vain" personality and narcissism. These factors and more have led him to live a life of relative obscurity as a "founding father".
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5 replies
StephenDavis said Dec 17, 2012 22:15:57
As I said before, Woods painted Paine as a pretty unlikable dude, an 18th century Rosie O'Donnell if you will. He couldn't even keep a job in a Committee of Correspondence, let alone a seat in the Constitutional Convention! Paine was born to be a tortured writer, not a politician. Your average good old boy doesn't know who Charles-Louis de Secondat, baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu is, even though he had ENORMOUS influence on the Constitution, but he definitely knows who Ben Franklin is! In the end, the history textbook writers emphasize the statesmen that made important decisions about battles and budgets and such. An unlikable political commentator, even an enormously successful one, is bound to be another footnote in a dusty 2004 AP US Princeton Review.

Also, not even a good pun, Kent.

[Last edited Dec 17, 2012 22:16:11]
KentRollins said Dec 18, 2012 02:14:45
Thanks for the reply Stephen. Great comments about famous yet unknown people, and an interesting story with the dusty 2004 Princeton review. How history is flawed, it zeroes in on a few select poster children and ignores the rest. It is truly tragic for these superb men and women to go unnoticed. I guess if fame is ones goal, the requirements are truly impossible to understand. Thomas Paine impacted more history that 99.9% of people who ever lived, and is still forgotten.
JackOliver said Dec 18, 2012 03:39:24
What is the pun?
cubsfanwcg said Dec 18, 2012 03:46:35
I completely agree with you Kent. Paine was not very respected by the founding fathers and therefore was sort of cast aside as one. I agree with all of the factors that led to this that you listed, included his arrogance, lack of dedication to America, and absence in forming the Constitution. I also think that the fact that he was not a true gentleman like the other founding fathers and appealed to the common people people rather than just the social elite. If he had focused more time on being a gentleman, participating in the Continental Congress, and expressing his loyalty to America, do you think he would have been considered more of a founding father today? I think that Paine's arrogant personality really cost him, just as one today costs potential candidates from being liked and respected.
cdashley94 said Dec 18, 2012 03:48:02
It reminds me of the modern relationship of president and advisor. For instance, most Americans recognize George W Bush as a past president, and can stats some of his actions during office. However, significantly less Americans could tell you that Karl Rove was behind many of the decisions and actions. Karl Rove held a lot of importance during the presidency, but Bush got the bulk of the credit for anything he did.
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