Thomas Paine (1737-1809) thrust himself into world history on the eve of his 39th birthday in January 1776, rousing the North American Colonies to break with Britain. His hope was an independent republic that would act as a democratic beacon to old Europe. Born in Thetford, England, Tom Paine was an author, political theorist, and humanitarian. He will be best remembered for being influental in two revolutions, the American and the French.
Always, to admirers and enemies alike, Tom Paine is perhaps the most unknown figure of the American Revolution. His optimism, however, still rings loudly: ‘We have it in our power to begin the world over again.’
Harry Harmer lives in Lewes, England, Paine's home for six years. He has a doctorate in history and has written several books on civil rights.