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New Biography Highlights Thomas Paine’s Overlooked Contributions


Aired 4/19/09

Tom Fudge: There may have been no person more important to the spirit of the American Revolution than Thomas Paine. His pamphlet, Common Sense , was a call to arms. His Crisis Papers served as an inspiration in the darkest days of the Revolution. In Crisis Papers , he would write the immortal line, “These are the time that try men’s souls.” Paine later contributed to the universal cause of democracy by writing The Rights of Man and The Age of Reason .

Yet, Thomas Paine has not been revered as have other American Revolutionaries. Some say his attacks on organized religion got him placed on a kind of early American blacklist. But the joyous radicalism of Paine’s writings continues to inspire people and help define the American spirit.


  • Harvey J. Kaye , professor of history and social change at the University of Wisconsin in Green Bay. He’s author of Thomas Paine and the Promise of America.

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