Common Sense was the philosophical framework of the Declaration of Independence, which was signed the summer after Common Sense was published.. Paine, wanting to do more than write, joined Washington’s Continental Army. He served as an aide to General Nathanael Greene.
Paine felt that every nation should be free of authoritative government and enjoy the benefits of freedom. After America gained Independence from the British crown he took his ideas and moved straight at the oppressors. Paine moved to Britain and published the Rights of Man, his argument against the rule of monarchs. The book earned him the wrath of King George III. Paine fled to France to escape death and took part in the French Revolution to overthrow King Louis XVI. As the guillotine worked its bloody mechanics and killed hundreds daily during the French Revolution, Paine, not a proponent of the death penalty, advocated for leniency for King Louis XVI. For his soft stance on the king, Paine became himself the target of Robespierre, the leader of the French Revolution. Robespierre had Paine jailed. For 11 months Paine awaited his date with the guillotine. Paine sought help from his old friends in America. In return for all that Paine had done during the American Revolution, how did George Washington respond to his old friend Tom Paine? He ignored him. George Washington left Thomas Paine to rot in a French prison or else die by the guillotine.
Paine was saved when Robespierre himself was guillotined on July 27, 1794. Paine, sick and emaciated was rescued from the French prison by future American president James Monroe who was then minister to France. Paine returned to America and lived on a farm in New York. On June 8, 1809 Thomas Paine died in Greenwich Village, New York. He was buried on his New York farm. At his funeral a total of six people, four Whites and two Blacks, watched as his body was lowered into the ground of the country he helped free. Later Tom Paine’s bones were disinterred and lost. Today, there is no ground that marks the final resting place of America and freedom’s greatest patriot, Thomas Paine. Enjoy the song below of Dick Gaughan singing a tribute to Tom Paine.