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Thomas Paine: Apostle of Freedom
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TOM PAINE: FREEDOM'S APOSTLE by Leo Gurko | Kirkus Reviews
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His contributions, political and intellectual, were more profound, changing the very substance of revolutionary politics in an era of democratic revolutions. Reflecting in on his own long political career, the aging John Adams wrote curtly, "Call it the Age of Paine. To be sure, Paine lacked Madison's realism and originality as a political theorist or Hamilton's frightening genius as a financial visionary.
In his occasional role as a practical politician, he performed honorably but usually ineffectively. But in his finest writings, particularly in Common Sense, Paine defined, better than any other Founding Father, the American revolutionary cause as ordinary patriots came to define it--not as a trans-Atlantic tax revolt or struggle for independence but as an effort to give birth to a new social and political world, a cause for all mankind.
Later, in Rights of Man, he delivered the most influential defense of democratic principles to appear in his lifetime. And as a delegate to the revolutionary National Convention in Paris, his speeches and articles on behalf of moderation especially in opposition to the execution of Louis XVI and to the Terror offered eloquent, if in the short-run doomed, testimony on the necessity for even radical regimes to respect the rule of law.
How Paine wrote was as important as what he wrote. Not that his literary efforts were completely unprecedented. Before Paine, numerous Americans took time off from their usual employments to compose political pamphlets.