Born in England 283 years ago today, January 29, 1736, the forgotten Thomas Paine was perhaps the most important advocate for democracy in modern history. His birthday has long been celebrated by democracy loving people all over the world and should be celebrated as a national holiday everywhere to reflect the international impact of this forgotten founding father of the revolution for world democracy. This year you can celebrate the event with the Florida Veterans for Common Sense in Florida or the much celebrated the Thomas Paine Society in California.
Known in some circles as the “most-important Englishman whoever lived”, Thomas Paine was the best selling author of 18th century Europe and America. With the power of his words, Paine sparked the American Revolution. He fought with George Washington’s army while advocating for the end of slavery, diplomacy with Native American tribes, the empowerment of women, and a much more complete democracy in America than the constitution provided.
Paine was also a leading voice for democracy in the French Revolution. Despite not speaking French, he was elected to the National Convention, representing Pas-de-Calais, and went on to stand alone calling for the abolishment of the death penalty before the revolution devolved into the Reign of Terror, only barely escaping execution by guillotine himself.
If you don’t know Paine, or want to know more, take a look at New York Times best-selling author Christopher Hitchens’ “Thomas Paine’s Rights of Man (Books That Changed the World)” or watch this documentary about Paine’s life by the BBC called “Thomas Paine: The most valuable Englishman”: