America, 1774 - 1787

For God’s sake let us come to a final separation, and not leave the next generation to be cutting throats under the violated unmeaning names of parent and child.
    – Common Sense, January 1776

Born in Thetford, England, by trade a maker of stays for women’s corsets, and recently fired from a job as a revenue inspector, thirty-seven-year-old Thomas Paine arrived in Philadelphia in 1774. He had not as yet written anything of significance, but “when the country into which I had just set my foot, was set on fire about my ears, it was time to stir.” Common Sense, designed “to make those that can scarcely read understand,” had a powerful effect in preparing the public for the Declaration of Independence of July 1776. In December Paine, retreating with the demoralized Continental army, penned the first number of The American Crisis, and he continued during critical points of the war to explain events and boost morale until he could say in 1783,“The times that tried men’s souls are over.”


   Small image    Small image    Small image  
  Click to enlarge imageThomas Paine
James Watson (c. 1740–1790), after Charles Willson Peale
Mezzotint, 1783
  Click to enlarge imageCommon Sense , 1776
  Click to enlarge imageBenjamin Franklin (1706–1790)
Edward Fisher (1722–1785), after Mason Chamberlin
Mezzotint, 1763

Continue to England