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Mr. Ulmschneider's Forums > AP Government: Madison, Paine, and Politics
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Thom Paine, the voice of a generation

posted Dec 18, 2012 01:42:28 by JackOliver
Wood makes the case that Thomas Paine doesn’t get the recognition he deserves in comparison to the rest of the men we call the Founding Fathers. In fact, Thomas Paine’s greatest contribution to the revolutionary cause was different from the rest of the founders, and therefore ought to be kept separate in the eyes of history. Where the rest of the traditional founders conceived of and effected the government that came to power following the revolution, Paine’s accomplishment was to give a face and voice to the revolutionary sentiment around which the colonists could unite. At the time Common Sense was published, the feelings it expressed were already widely felt in the colonies, but it conveyed them in a way that many colonists could identify with, agree upon, and understand. This was obviously something Paine had a gift for, as Wood acknowledges thus: “Other americans conceived of the revolution in those grandiose universalist terms, but none were able to say it as he did”. It is also possible that Paine made a good face for revolutionary thought because of his relatability to the ordinary person. As Wood says, Paine made sure his humble, common background was common knowledge, and even “became passionate about his lack of connections.” If this was truly Thomas Paine’s role in American history, his name does not belong among the founders, but instead in a separate, equally important category.
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3 replies
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KentRollins said Dec 18, 2012 02:21:42
Great post Jack. Interesting point showing the difference in the roles from T-Paine to the other founding fathers. I am not completely sure whether I agree that this man "ought to be kept separate in the eyes of history". I feel that Thomas Paine is as deserving of our praise and admiration as anybody. Finding out the factors that put someone down in history are almost impossible to define.
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JillianMiles said Dec 18, 2012 02:39:02
I do like that you put him on the same level as the founders. I agree that he should not be considered a pillar in the actual construction of the government or revolution because of the fact that he did not do any of the building, just the imagining and ranting really. His gift however, like you said, helped his cause maybe more than the founders' because public support is always very necessary and influential in times of revolution. This support ultimately helped the founders a lot, so Thomas Paine should be considered equal to them in importance but not in his actual job description.
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JackOliver said Dec 18, 2012 03:22:58
Right Jillian, especially when you keep in mind the nature of the new government set up by the founding fathers. Government with consent of the governed was one of the most important ideals of the revolution, making it all the more important that the people be unified in support of the revolution. Without this unity, the revolution and new government would be almost hypocrisy.
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