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Book Title: Collected Writings: Common Sense/The Crisis/Rights of Man/The Age of Reason/Pamphlets/Articles & Letters|
The author of the book: Thomas Paine
Date of issue: March 1st 1995
ISBN 13: 9781883011031
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 588 KB
Edition: Library of America
Read full description of the books Collected Writings: Common Sense/The Crisis/Rights of Man/The Age of Reason/Pamphlets/Articles & Letters:“I know not whether any man in the world,” wrote John Adams in 1805, “has had more influence on its inhabitants or affairs for the last thirty years than Tom Paine.” The impassioned democratic voice of the Age of Revolution, Paine wrote for his mass audience with vigor, clarity, and “common sense.” This Library of America volume is the first major new edition of his work in 50 years, and the most comprehensive single-volume collection of his writings available. Emphasizing Paine’s American career, it brings together his best-known works—Common Sense, The American Crisis, Rights of Man, The Age of Reason—along with scores of letters, articles, and pamphlets.
Paine came to America in 1774 at age 37 after a life of obscurity and failure in England. Within fourteen months he published Common Sense, the most influential pamphlet for the American Revolution, and began a career that would see him prosecuted in England, imprisoned and nearly executed in France, and hailed and reviled in the American nation he helped create. In Common Sense, Paine set forth an inspiring vision of an independent America as an asylum for freedom and an example of popular self-government in a world oppressed by despotism and hereditary privilege. The American Crisis, begun during “the times that try men’s souls” in 1776, is a masterpiece of popular pamphleteering in which Paine vividly reports current developments, taunts and ridicules British adversaries, and enjoins his readers to remember the immense stakes of their struggle. Among the many other items included in the volume are the combative “Forester” letters, written in a reply to a Tory critic of Common Sense, and several pieces concerning the French Revolution, including an incisive argument against executing Louis XVI.
Rights of Man (1791–1792), written in response to Edmund Burke’s attacks on the French Revolution, is a bold vision of an egalitarian society founded on natural rights and unbound by tradition. Paine’s detailed proposal for government assistance to the poor inspired generations of subsequent radicals and reformers.
The Age of Reason (1794–1795), Paine’s most controversial work, is an unrestrained assault on the authority of the Bible and a fervent defense of the benevolent God of deism.
Included in this volume are a detailed chronology of Paine’s life, informative notes, an essay on the complex printing history of Paine’s work, and an index.
Eric Foner, volume editor, is DeWitt Clinton Professor of American History at Columbia University. He is the author of numerous books, including Tom Paine and Revolutionary America and Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution 1863–1877.
The library of America is dedicated to publishing America's best and most significant writing in handsome, enduring volumes, featuring authoritative texts. Hailed as the "finest-looking, longest-lasting editions ever made" (The New Republic), Library of America volumes make a fine gift for any occasion. Now, with exactly one hundred volumes to choose from, there is a perfect gift for everyone.
Read information about the authorThomas Paine was an English-American political activist, author, political theorist and revolutionary. As the author of two highly influential pamphlets at the start of the American Revolution, he inspired the Patriots in 1776 to declare independence from Britain. His ideas reflected Enlightenment-era rhetoric of transnational human rights. He has been called "a corset maker by trade, a journalist by profession, and a propagandist by inclination".
Born in Thetford, England, in the county of Norfolk, Paine emigrated to the British American colonies in 1774 with the help of Benjamin Franklin, arriving just in time to participate in the American Revolution. His principal contributions were the powerful, widely read pamphlet Common Sense (1776), the all-time best-selling American book that advocated colonial America's independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain, and The American Crisis (1776–83), a pro-revolutionary pamphlet series. Common Sense was so influential that John Adams said, "Without the pen of the author of Common Sense, the sword of Washington would have been raised in vain."
Paine lived in France for most of the 1790s, becoming deeply involved in the French Revolution. He wrote the Rights of Man (1791), in part a defence of the French Revolution against its critics. His attacks on British writer Edmund Burke led to a trial and conviction in absentia in 1792 for the crime of seditious libel. In 1792, despite not being able to speak French, he was elected to the French National Convention. The Girondists regarded him as an ally. Consequently, the Montagnards, especially Robespierre, regarded him as an enemy.
In December 1793, he was arrested and imprisoned in Paris, then released in 1794. He became notorious because of his pamphlet The Age of Reason (1793–94), in which he advocated deism, promoted reason and freethinking, and argued against institutionalized religion in general and Christian doctrine in particular. He also wrote the pamphlet Agrarian Justice (1795), discussing the origins of property, and introduced the concept of a guaranteed minimum income. In 1802, he returned to America where he died on June 8, 1809. Only six people attended his funeral as he had been ostracized for his ridicule of Christianity.
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