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Thomas Paine was born in 1737 to a poor Quaker in Thetford England In his early life he was surrounded mostly by farmers and the uneducated He left school at the age of twelve and shortly after became apprenticed to his father as a corset maker This trade was to follow him throughout his days in England as his something to fall back on while exploring various career options After several years and failed ventures Paine moved to Lewes in East Sussex in 1768 to be a schoolteacher Here he became involved for the first time in civic matters with his landlord Samuel Ollive introducing him into the Society of Twelve a local eacutelite group which met twice a year to discuss town issues Paine also participated in the Vestry the influential church group that collected taxes and tithes and distributed them to the poor In 1772 Paine published his first political workThe Case of the Officers of Excise a twenty-one page article in which he proposed the need for better pay and working conditions for excisemen He met Benjamin Franklin in London two years later Franklin must have seen something of himself in his fellow non-orthodox Quaker and advised him to emigrate to America A month later in October 1774 Paine sailed for Philadelphia armed with a letter of recommendation from Franklin and a legal separation from his second wife His intentions were to set up a school but instead he got a job as co-editor of Pennsylvania Magazine for a humble salary of fifty pounds a year As luck would have it Paine had arrived on the threshold of the American Revolution The Shot Heard Round the World was fired a mere six months from his arrival and the Battle of Bunker Hill soon after prompted Paine to compose Common Sense in the autumn of 1775 It was published anonymously on January 16 1776 an act that propelled Thomas Paine into both instant
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