Thomas Paine
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Thomas Paine (1737 - 1809)

Thomas Paine
Born in Thetford, Norfolk, Englandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married 27 Sep 1759 in Sandwich, Kent, Englandmap
Husband of — married 26 Mar 1771 (to 4 Jun 1774) in Parish of Saint Michael, Lewes, Sussex, Englandmap
Father of
Died at age 72 in New York City, New York County, New York, United Statesmap
Profile last modified | Created 13 Nov 2008
This page has been accessed 63,187 times.
Thomas Paine participated in the American Revolution.
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1776 Project
Thomas Paine performed Patriotic Service in Pennsylvania in the American Revolution.
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Thomas Paine is Notable.

Thomas Paine was a writer and revolutionary. He was born in Thetford, England, and lived and worked in Britain until age 37, when he immigrated to the British American colonies, in time to participate in the American Revolution.

Thomas Paine will be most remembered because of the pro independence editorial called Common Sense, published January 10. 1776. It expressed the ideas behind the American Revolution.

In a time when there were only two million free colonists living in America, 100,000 copies were sold in just three months! (In modern lingo, that’s New York Times bestseller material!) It was read by everyone who was anyone, including in later years, Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Edison.

The publication of this hugely popular pamphlet, along with other similar publications, would lead to his legacy as the Father of the American Revolution.

After the American Revolution ended, he moved back to England were he was outlawed for treason for defending the French Revolution. In 1792 he fled to France.

Thomas Paine didn't speak French, yet amazingly he was elected to the French National Convention in 1792. (Now that’s initiative!)

Thomas Paine died, at aged 72, at 59 Grove Street, Greenwich Village, New York City, on June 8, 1809. He was buried in New Rochelle, New York.

An "admirer" looking to return the remains to England later disinterred him however, and his final resting place is unknown.

Films and Books about Thomas Paine

  • The 1982 French-Italian film That Night in Varennes is about a fictional meeting of Casanova, Chevalier de Seingalt (played by Italian actor Marcello Mastroianni), Nicolas Edmé Restif de la Bretonne, Countess Sophie de la Borde and Thomas Paine (played by American actor Harvey Keitel) as they ride in a carriage a few hours behind the carriage carrying the King and Queen of France, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, on their attempt to escape from revolutionary France in 1791.
  • Jack Shepherd's stage play In Lambeth dramatized a visit by Thomas Paine to the Lambeth home of William and Catherine Blake in 1789.
  • In 1995, English folk singer Graham Moore, from Dorset, wrote "Tom Paine's Bones" which he recorded on his album of the same name. In 2001, the Scottish musician Dick Gaughan included the song on his album Outlaws and Dreamers.
  • In 2005, Trevor Griffiths published These are the Times: A Life of Thomas Paine, originally written as a screenplay for Richard Attenborough Productions. Although the film was not made, the play was broadcast as a two-part drama on BBC Radio 4 in 2008, with a repeat in 2012. In 2009, Griffiths adapted the screenplay for a production entitled A New World at Shakespeare's Globe theatre on London's South Bank.
  • Harry Turtledove's 2008 alternate history novel The United States of Atlantis features Paine as a character.
  • In 2009, Paine's life was dramatized in the play Thomas Paine Citizen of the World, produced for the "Tom Paine 200 Celebrations" festival
  • Paine's role in the foundation of the United States is depicted in a pseudo-biographical fashion in the educational animated series Liberty's Kids produced by DIC Entertainment.
  • Paine is a character in the Bob Dylan song "As I Went Out One Morning", featured on Dylan's 1968 album, John Wesley Harding.
  • A fictional version of Paine is featured in the Deborah Harkness book "Time's Convert".[130]

[Anyone have thoughts on his final burial place?]

His Remains and Final Resting Place

Thomas Paine, the Founding Father famous for his pamphlet Common Sense, passed away a lonely alcoholic in 1809. Less than 10 people attended his funeral of the once famous Paine, who lost popularity for opposing the church. Next to broke at the end of his life, Paine was buried in a modest grave on his farm with all his burial requests ignored.

TPaine’s remains were stolen in 1819 by British radical newspaperman William Cobbett and shipped to England in order to give Paine a more worthy burial. Paine’s bones were discovered by customs inspectors in Liverpool, but allowed to pass through.

Cobbett claimed that his plan was to display Paine’s bones in order to raise money for a proper memorial. He also fashioned jewelry made with hair removed from Paine’s skull for fundraising purposes.

Cobbett spent some time in Newgate Prison and after briefly being displayed, Paine’s bones ended up in Cobbett’s cellar until he died. Estate auctioneers refused to sell human remains and the bones became hard to trace.

Rumors of the remains’ whereabouts sprouted up through the years with little or no validation, including an Australian businessman who claimed to purchase the skull in the 1990s.

In 2001, the city of New Rochelle launched an effort to gather the remains and give Paine a final resting place. The Thomas Paine National Historical Association in New Rochelle claims to have possession of brain fragments and locks of hair. Today, they say Paine's head lies in Australia and the rest of his body is at the four corners of the world.


Fast, Howard (1946). Citizen Tom Paine. (historical novel, though sometimes mistaken as biography).


  • Paine, Thomas (1896). Conway, Moncure Daniel, ed. The Writings of Thomas Paine, Volume 4. New York: G. P. Putnam's sons. p. 521., E'book
  • Foot, Michael; Kramnick, Isaac (1987). The Thomas Paine Reader. Penguin Classics. ISBN 978-0-14-044496-4.
  • Paine, Thomas (1993). Foner, Eric, ed. Writings. Philadelphia: Library of America.. Authoritative and scholarly edition containing Common Sense, the essays comprising the American Crisis series, Rights of Man, The Age of Reason, Agrarian Justice, and selected briefer writings, with authoritative texts and careful annotation.
  • Paine, Thomas (1944). Foner, Philip S., ed. The Complete Writings of Thomas Paine. Citadel Press. A complete edition of Paine's writings, on the model of Eric Foner's edition for the Library of America, is badly needed. Until then Philip Foner's two-volume edition is a serviceable substitute. Volume I contains the major works, and volume II contains shorter writings, both published essays and a selection of letters, but confusingly organized; in addition, Foner's attributions of writings to Paine have come in for some criticism in that Foner may have included writings that Paine edited but did not write and omitted some writings that later scholars have attributed to Paine.
  • Aldridge, A. Owen (1959). Man of Reason: The Life of Thomas Paine. Lippincott.. Regarded by British authorities as the standard biography.
  • Aldridge, A. Owen (1984). Thomas Paine's American Ideology. University of Delaware Press. ISBN 9780874132601.
  • Ayer, A. J. (1988). Thomas Paine. University of Chicago Press.
  • Bailyn, Bernard (1990). Bailyn, ed. Common Sense. Faces of Revolution: Personalities and Themes in the Struggle for American Independence. Alfred A. Knopf.
  • Bernstein, R. B. (1994). "Review Essay: Rediscovering Thomas Paine". New York Law School Law Review.. Valuable blend of historiographical essay and biographical/analytical treatment.
  • Butler, Marilyn (1984). Burke Paine and Godwin and the Revolution Controversy.
  • Claeys, Gregory (1989). Thomas Paine, Social and Political Thought. London: Unwin Hyman. ISBN 9780203193204.. Excellent analysis of Paine's thought.
  • Conway, Moncure Daniel (1892). The Life of Thomas Paine. G.P. Putnam's Sons.. Long hailed as the definitive biography, and still valuable.
  • Ferguson, Robert A. (July 2000). "The Commonalities of Common Sense". William and Mary Quarterly. 57#3 (3): 465–504. JSTOR 2674263.
  • Foner, Eric (1976). Tom Paine and Revolutionary America. Oxford University Press.. The standard monograph treating Paine's thought and work with regard to America.
  • Foner, Eric (2000). Thomas Paine. American National Biography Online.
  • Griffiths, Trevor (2005). These Are the Times: A Life of Thomas Paine. Spokesman Books.
  • Hawke, David Freeman (1974). Paine. Philadelphia. Regarded by many American authorities as the standard biography.
  • Hitchens, Christopher (2007). Thomas Paine's "Rights of Man": A Biography. London: Atlantic Books. ISBN 978-1843546283.
  • Kates, Gary (1989). "From Liberalism to Radicalism: Tom Paine's Rights of Man". Journal of the History of Ideas.
  • Kaye, Harvey J. (2005). Thomas Paine and the Promise of America. Hill and Wang.
  • Keane, John (1995). Tom Paine: A Political Life. London: Bloomsbury.. One of the most valuable recent studies.
  • Lamb, Robert (2010). "Liberty, Equality, and the Boundaries of Ownership: Thomas Paine's Theory of Property Rights". Review of Politics. 72 (3).
  • Larkin, Edward (2005). Thomas Paine and the Literature of Revolution. Cambridge University Press.
  • Lessay, Jean (1987). L'américain de la Convention, Thomas Paine: Professeur de révolutions [The National Convention's American, Thomas Paine, professor of revolution] (in French). Paris: Éditions Perrin. p. 241.
  • Levin, Yuval (2013). The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Right and Left. Basic Books. ISBN 978-0465062980.. Their debate over the French Revolution.
  • Lewis, Joseph L. (1947). Thomas Paine: The Author of the Declaration of Independence. New York: Freethought Press Association.
  • Nelson, Craig (2006). Thomas Paine: Enlightenment, Revolution, and the Birth of Modern Nations. Viking. ISBN 978-0-670-03788-9.
  • Phillips, Mark (May 2008). "Paine, Thomas (1737–1809)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/21133. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  • Powell, David (1985). Tom Paine, The Greatest Exile. Hutchinson.
  • Russell, Bertrand (1934). "The Fate of Thomas Paine".
  • Solinger, Jason D. (November 2010). "Thomas Paine's Continental Mind". Early American Literature. 45 (3).
  • Vincent, Bernard (2005). The Transatlantic Republican: Thomas Paine and the age of revolutions. ISBN 978-9042016149.
  • Wilensky, Mark (2008). The Elementary Common Sense of Thomas Paine. An Interactive Adaptation for All Ages. Casemate. ISBN 978-1-932714-36-4.
  • Washburne, E. B. (May 1880). "Thomas Paine and the French Revolution". Scribner's Monthly. XX.
  • Conway, Moncure D. (1908). The Life of Thomas Paine. v1; Cobbett, William, Illustrator. G. P. Putnam's Sons. p. 3. Retrieved October 2, 2013. – In the contemporary record as noted by Conway, Paine's birth date is given as January 29, 1736–37. Common practice was to use a dash or a slash to separate the old-style year from the new-style year. In the old calendar, the new year began on March 25, not January 1. Paine's birth date, therefore, would have been before New Year, 1737. In the new style, his birth date advances by eleven days and his year increases by one to February 9, 1737. The O.S. link gives more detail if needed.
  • From Jack P. Green (1978) "Paine, America, and the "Modernization" of Political Consciousness", cited in Edward
  • Larkin (2005) "Thomas Paine and the Literature of Revolution."
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed 9 January 2020), memorial page for Thomas Paine (29 Jan 1737–8 Jun 1809), Find A Grave: Memorial #2698, citing Thomas Paine Gravesite, New Rochelle, Westchester County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave, Note: Alleged or in dispute burial location

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The thing that sticks in my head about Thomas Paine, is that despite his genius regarding politics, his power and connections, that 100,000 people read his book... only six people attended his funeral ?
posted 13 Nov 2008 by Anonymous Bobola
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Thomas Paine is notable.
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posted by Doug Lockwood
"Common Sense" was a pamphlet, but Paine did write several books. His last, "The Age of Reason", was a scathing criticism of ALL organized (or revealed) religions, as being only institutions of control over man. He used Christianity (most familiar to him) as his example, and the Bible itself, to disprove any Divine origin. Paine was not an atheist, but a Deist, believing God would not reveal himself to Man via anything as mutable as writing, but did so via nature and immutable natural laws. "The World is my Country, and to do good my religion." But on his final return to America, AofR was seen only as an "attack on Christianity", resulting in only 6 funeral attendees, 2 of which were freed slaves. Why? Read Paine's pamphlet "African Slavery in America" written 90 yrs < the Civil War.
posted by Paul Johnson

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