Writer Thomas Paine was born January 29, 1737 in Thetford, England. The son of a Quaker corset maker, Paine became an ardent student of philosophy. In October 1774, at the age of 37, he sailed from England to Philadelphia, carrying a letter of introduction from Benjamin Franklin.
Paine first worked as a journalist for the “Pennsylvania Magazine”, frequently writing about social issues like the abolition of slavery. In 1776, Paine first published “Common Sense”, a 47-page pamphlet that urged independence from England as a common sense measure that would unite the colonies. “Common Sense” sold 120,000 copies within its first three months. Even though Paine wrote the treatise anonymously, word soon spread of his authorship.
During the Revolution, Paine enlisted in the Army and served as an aide to General Washington. According to legend, in 1776, as the war dragged on, support waned, and starving and freezing troops deserted the Army, Paine sat alone writing the first in a series “The American Crisis”. His work opened with these words, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” Paine’s work was published within days, and was read aloud around Army campfires.
Through his writing, Thomas Paine, the son of an English corset maker helped spark and flame an American revolution.
I can only imagine what it must have been like to sit around a winter campfire and be heartened by his words.