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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