In this passage, Wood made it painfully clear that Paine was not a likable fellow. He was even coined as the man who "failed at everything he'd ever attempted", at least in the first four decades of his life. However, his importance cannot be denied ("the world would never again be the same", says Wood on the importance of Common Sense). The founders of America needed to give the people more than an idea to rally behind. They needed to have connections, to be like Ben Franklin dallying in the aristocratic circles of France and England. Frankly, they needed to give America a sense of legitimacy to the rest of the world, and being a slovenly radical was not the correct way to go about that. He had no way of politically handling the country or dealing with the rest of the world. He provided the spark, but the fathers fed and monitored the fire. Paine embraced this story of him not really belonging to America (he promoted the idea of his "personal disinterest"). So if he didn't want to be a part of the country that he helped find independence for, is it really fair to deem him a founding father?
As a side note, Paine offends far too many people to become a face that generations of people could rally behind.
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