"In my youth I also read tragedies,
epic poems, romances, and divinity.
Now I read Common Sense."
A Brief History Of Thomas Paine
Thomas Paine was born Tom Pain in the town of Thetford, Norfolk on
January 29, 1737. His father, Joseph, was a Quaker staymaker, while his mother
was the daughter of an attorney. Tom was raised in Quaker fashion and schooled
from age six to thirteen. In 1750, he began to apprentice in his father's shop to
learn the family trade. At sixteen he ran away from home and went onto a
merchant ship. He was brought back by his father, but just three years later, he
left Thetford for good.
In 1758, at the age of twenty-one, he moved to the village of Sandwich,
and opened a shop of his own. Within a year, he met and married Mary Lambert,
but with her dying the following year, the marriage was short lived.
Two years later, he took up the job of exciseman, to collect duties levied
upon imported products such as tobacco and beverages. Then in 1765, just three
years after acquiring his new job, he was fired for not examining the stamped
goods. After a few random jobs, he came back to the Excise Service in 1768 and
was assigned to Lewes in Sussex and remained there for the next six years.
At 31, he returned to politics, business, and the family. He gained a
reputation that after a few beers he could take on the town officers in heated
debates. He opened a tobacco and grocery business, but it faired poorly due to
lack of business sense. During this time he remarried, but was soon permanently
Going back to Excise work, he drew up a pamphlet titled, The Case of the...