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

The Age of Paine

posted Dec 18, 2012 03:33:26 by cubsfanwcg
Thomas Paine, one of the most influential writers in American history and beyond, is not recognized as a main founding father by Americans today. Although he is the author of famous works "Common Sense," "The Rights of Man," and "The Age of Reason," many disregard him as one of the key contributors to our nation's independence. Gordon Wood explores this aspect of Paine's legacy (or lack thereof) and comes up with a couple of reasons as to why he is not recognized as a founding father. One of my favorite examples was the fact that Paine did not carry himself as a gentleman. Whereas men like Madison and Jefferson were always well-dressed and polite, Paine was known as "the very picture of a journeyman tailor who has been drunk." Furthermore, Paine did not participate in the Continental Congress and merely wrote influential works without really being an insider on the most important discussions in our nation's history. Paine appealed to the masses with his easy-to-read writing and ideas that benefitted the less fortunate. While many disregard him as a founding father for many reasons, including the fact that he spent the majority of his life in Europe, Paine definitely left a lasting mark on this nation that still exists today.
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2 replies
JackOliver said Dec 18, 2012 03:48:43
Wood emphasizes how his lack of connections led to him being viewed as an outsider within colonial aristocratic circles, quoting Gouverneur Morris of New York as calling Paine a "mere adventurer from England, without fortune, without family or connections, ignorant even of grammar." This quote supports both his lack of connections and European background as probable causes for his lack of acceptance within the rising circles of the American social elite.
cubsfanwcg said Dec 18, 2012 04:07:22
You make a good point. I think this goes along with the fact that Paine was no gentleman in America. The elite would rather not deal with him because of his status and he was therefore an outsider. I also think that they saw his true intentions were only to influence those in America instead of actually help the country. His intentions were much different from their's and he was therefore an outsider when it came to making big decisions that led to our founding fathers being who they are today.
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