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

“He was not happy” – A Life of Paine

posted Dec 18, 2012 00:37:47 by carolineweakland
Thomas Paine was described as a “refugee” of America and never truly was granted the title of a “Founding Father.” An extremely liberal thinker of the eighteenth century, Paine wrote “Common Sense,” outlining the ridiculous control of America by what he called a tiny island. After selling 150,000 copies, Paine was still not labeled as a gentlemen or part of high-class America. Wood’s analysis of his life seems pretty pathetic, from his lack of “connections” to his “cold” love-life. The overwhelmingly negative view of Thomas Paine and his legacy is false. He has a great reputation for writing his Common Sense and sharing philosophical views with Jefferson, but the extent of glory was stumped by his economic status.
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3 replies
StephenDavis said Dec 18, 2012 01:42:20
Yeah I definitely agree with your assertion that the overwhelmingly negative view of Paine's legacy is false. Everybody learns about Tommy boy in school and what a great document "Common Sense" was. I think that Paine was his own worst enemy with regards to his legacy, though, not his economic status. Woods points out that many of the
"Founding Fathers" had similar aristocratic backgrounds to Paine. Paine was unable to conduct himself as a politician, hence his legacy is based solely on his writings. with an eloquence and mass appeal that rivaled Ben Franklin's, Paine was definitely in a position to become an influential member of the elite, but he just couldn't hack it.

kayla.fynaardt said Dec 18, 2012 01:43:43
I agree with you in that Paine never gained a place as a Founding father despite being widely-known for his writing. However, I am not sure that this would have changed even if he had been of higher economic status. From my understanding, it seemed as though it were more of a personality/image issue with Paine. If he had been more wealthy but retained the same image, do you think he would have been received better by the gentry class?
carolineweakland said Dec 18, 2012 01:50:16
If Paine was more wealthy he would have been awkward and have personality issues still, but then again, think of Jefferson! He had a great deal of influence because he wrote and held a lot of land in Virginia. If Paine had the economic status of Jefferson, with his ambition, he could have been labeled a Founding Father or at least an "American" according to Woods. However, I do agree that if Paine was more pragmatic like Franklin, he would have been far more successful in the political arena.
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