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SECRETARY TO THE COMMITTEE OF FOREIGN APFAIRS IN THE
TO WHICH IS PREFIXED
A BRIEF SKETCH OF THE AUTHOR'S LIFE.
A NEW EDITION WITH ADDITIONS
IN TWO VOLUMES.
GEORGE H. EVANS.--6 THAMES STREET.
LIFE OF THOMAS PAINE.
TAOMAS Paine was born in Thetford, county of Norfolk, England, January 29, 1737. His father was a staymaker by trade, and professed the Quaker system of religion. His parents were respectable though poor, which prevented their giving him a college education. All the learning which he possessed, was obtained at a common English grammar school.
He left school when he was about thirteen, and went to work with his father, at staymaking, where he continued two or three years. He then went to London, and afterwards to Dover, working at his trade a few weeks in each place. About this time he entered on board a privateer, but was prevented from going in her, as he says, “ by the affectionate and moral remonstrances of his father.” Dissatisfied, however, with his profession, he soon after entered and sailed in the privateer king of Prussia, captain Mendez. How long he was absent is uncertain.
In the year 1759, he settled at Sandwich, as a master-staymaker, and married Mary Lambert, who died the next year.
He obtained a situation in the excise in 1761, which he retained till 1774.
In 1771, he married Elizabeth Olive; he lived with her but a short time; a separation took place, the real cause of which, although a number have been assigned, as is usual in such cases, probably was never known to the public. After the separation from his wife, he went to London, where he procured an introduction to Dr. Franklin, who advised him to go to America; this advice he followed, and arrived in Philadelphia about the close of the year 1774. Here his political career commenced.
His first engagement was with Mr. Aitkin, a bookseller, who established the Pennsylvania Magazine in January, 1775, which
Paine edited for some time with great ability. His monody on the Death of Gen. Wolfe, and Reflections on the death of lord Clive, were first published in this magazine, and contributed much to its popularity. At this time he became acquainted with, and visited many people of the first rank; among whom were Franklin, Rittenhouse, G. Clymer, Dr. Rush, and others.
It was Dr. Rush who suggested to him the idea of writing Common Sense, which was published in January, 1776 ; and, as the doctor says, “bursted from the press with an effect which has rarely been produced by types and paper in any age or coun try.” Before this work was published, it was submitted to the inspection of Dr. Franklin, Mr. Samuel Adams, and other distinguished patriots, who spoke in the highest terms of it.
In the summer and autumn of 1776, he served as a volunteer in the American army, under Gen. Washington, and associated with officers of the first class.
The first number of The Crisis was published in December, 1776, and had a most invigorating effect on the spirits of the army, of public bodies; and of private citizens. “These,” said The Crisis, “are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier, and the sunshine patriot, will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country, but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman."
Three numbers of The Crisis were published in the year with the same success as the first.
On the 17th of April, 1777, Paine was elected Secretary to the Committee of Foreign Affairs, which office he held twenty-one months. He also acted as clerk to the legislature of Pennsylvania about the year 1780.
Three more numbers of The Crisis were published in 1778; three in 1780, in which year he wrote the pamphlet entitled Pub lic Good, on the claim of Virginia to the Western Territory.
In 1782, four numbers of The Crisis appeared. The two last were written in 1783.
In February, 1781, Mr. Paine accompanied Col. Laurens to. France, where they obtained for the United States a loan of ten millions of livres, and a present of six millions. . On his return he published his Letter to the abbe Raynal.
When the army was about to be disbanded, in 1783, Washington used all his influence to obtain from congress some compensation for the services which Paine had rendered the country by his revolutionary writings. In August, 1785, Congress passed the following resolution : “Resolved, that the early, unsolicited, and continued labors of Mr. Thomas Paine, in explaining and enforcing the principles of the late revolution, by ingenious and timely publications upon the nature of liberty and civil government, have been well received by the citizens of these states, and merit the approbation of congress ; and that in consideration of these services, and the benefits produced thereby, Mr. Paine is
entitled 10 a liberal gratification from the United States.” This liberal gratification was three thousand dollars ; which was all the compensation he ever received from government.
Paine also received from the state of Pennsylvania 500l. currency; and from New York, a fine estate of 300 acres of land, with all necessary buildings attached to it; situated in New-Rochelle, West Chester county.
Dissertations on Government, the affairs of the Bank, and Paper Money, was published in 1786. The occasion of it was as follows: In the year 1780, when the British army run the southern states ; when the finances of the country were exhausted ; and the American army were in the greatest distress, a voluntary subscription for its relief was proposed in Philadelphia. The amount raised in this way was three hundred thousand pounds ;* which was afterwards converted into a bank by the subscribers, headed by Robert Morris, and supplied the wants of the army. This supply was probably instrumental in enabling Washington to carry into effect his well-concerted plan against Cornwallis. This bank was incorporated by congress in 1781, and further incorporated by an act of the Pennsylvania legislature the following year.
“ When the war was over—when extreme distress had ceased, and the services which the bank had rendered were forgotten, it was attacked as an institution incompatible with individual prosperity, and public safety. The legislature of Pennsylvania was urgently petitioned to repeal their act of incorporation. The petitions were referred to a select commitee who reported in favor of its repeal. Here was an attempt, under the pretence
pro moting liberty, happiness, and safety, to violate them all by a most tyrannical invasion of private property! Paine, very unceremoniously and vigorously, assailed both the assembly and its petitioners, and probably averted the act of despotism which the freemen were about to commit.”
Paine sailed from the United States, in April, 1787, for France, where he exhibited the model of a bridge, of his invention, to the academy of sciences. From France he passed over to England, and arrived in London, September, 1787.
While in England, Paine became acquainted with Mr. Thomas Walker, of Manchester, the friend and companion of Fox. He was a liberal encourager of the arts; and, with his assistance, Paine was enabled to have an arch of his bridge cast in iron, at Rotherham, in Yorkshire. The bridge obtained for him a high reputation among the mathematicians of Europe.
Early in the year 1788, he published in London, Prospects on the Rubicon. The United Provinces, and France, being embroiled with Prussia, it was supposed that England would be drawn into the quarrel. It was written on this subject.
* Mr. Paine subscribed 5001.