Death of Thomas Paine, author of Rights of Man

Born in Thetford, Norfolk, Thomas Paine became one of the foremost political thinkers of his age. His pamphlet Common Sense which made the intellectual case for American independence was one of the most significant documents of the American Revolution. Paine’s advocacy of republicanism, utopianism, a commitment to free markets and individual liberty and a belief in scientific and social advance continues to influence Liberal thought to the present day. Paine was a supporter of the French Revolution and his response was in sharp variance to Edmund Burke, one of the other key liberal figures of the period. Both wrote important and contrasting books – Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France of 1790 and Paine’s response Rights of Man, published the following year, highlighting the divergence of liberal thought in the 1780s and 90s. From 1774 Paine lived mostly in the USA and France, settling permanently in America after 1802, where he died, aged 72, forgotten and neglected amid slanders over excessive brandy drinking.