Happy Thomas Paine’s Birthday!

It’s January 29th, the date commonly chosen to commemorate the birth of the great freethinker and author of the American revolution, Thomas Paine. (His exact birthdate is unknown.) Paine offered eloquent political and moral arguments in support of the colonies’ right to break away and form independent states, using ordinary language accessible to all. He probably did more than any other individual to rally popular support to that cause. But Paine not only offered compelling arguments in favor of freedom from tyranny in politics: he was a staunch deist and opponent of religion, and considered the clergy as oppressive as any monarch could be.

Paine, whom Theodore Roosevelt once referred to as a ‘filthy little atheist’ died in poverty and obscurity, yet many of us quote him frequently without even knowing it. He shared with Thomas Jefferson the uncanny ability to encapsulate ideas into perfectly turned phrases so well, that they remain in common usage today.

If you’re intrigued, find out more about Thomas Paine here
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/paine/
here,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Paine
and, very briefly, here
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1592233

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