As early as 1783, George Washington wisely explained the privileges and duties of those seeking to become citizens of our Country:
The bosom of America is open to receive not only the Opulent and respectable Stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations and Religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges, if by decency and propriety of conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment.
Thomas Paine, an English-American political activist, author, political theorist and revolutionary. As the author of two highly influential pamphlets at the start of the American Revolution, he became one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. His ideas reflected Enlightenment era rhetoric of transnational human rights. He has been called "a corsetmaker by trade, a journalist by profession, and a propagandist by inclination."
Born in Thetford, England, in the county of Norfolk, Paine emigrated to the British American colonies in 1774 in time to participate in the American Revolution. His principal contributions were the powerful, widely read pamphlet Common Sense (1776), the all-time best-selling American book that advocated colonial America's independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain, and The American Crisis (1776–83), a pro-revolutionary pamphlet series. Common Sense was so influential that John Adams said, "Without the pen of the author of Common Sense, the sword of Washington would have been raised in vain.”
In December 1793, he was arrested and imprisoned in Paris, then released in 1794.
In 1802, he returned to America on an invitation from Thomas Jefferson. Paine discovered that his contributions to the American Revolution had been all but eradicated due to his religious views.
Thomas Paine was an abolitionist. He had a mind and a pen that literally shook the world. When he was solicited by Benjamin Franklin to leave his native England and travel to America to write his vibrant and revolutionary prose, he came with a single purpose – to strike blows for liberty. Paine arrived in Philadelphia in late November of 1774, and he promptly wrote African Slavery in America, a scathing piece about inhumane treatment of Negroes. Its first line tells the story:
"That some desperate wretches should be willing to steal and enslave men by violence and murder for gain, is rather lamentable than strange."
Paine also wrote Common Sense, which forcefully inspired the colonists to revolt against England and its unjust, complex laws that did little but feed lawyers and enslave and oppress people.
When the Revolution was young and the times were desperate, the colonists despaired and were ready to abort the battle for freedom. England seemed to be too great of a foe; it had too much power, too big an army, too great a navy, and it was generally believed by the colonists that the cause was lost. When things were utterly bleak, Paine again struck with his majestic pen, stirring the colonists on in the struggle while sending quakes that shook the core of the British military. On December 23, 1776, Paine wrote the first of the Crisis series. It began:
These are the times that try men's souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it NOW, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: 'Tis dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put the proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed, if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated. Britain, with an army to enforce her tyranny, has declared that she has a right (not only to TAX) but "to BIND us in ALL CASES WHATSOEVER," and if being bound in that manner, is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth. Even the expression is impious, for so unlimited a power can belong only to GOD.
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