Extracts from the Life of Thomas Paine

Pamphlet

Description

English

Thomas Paine’s influence as a radical political activist at the end of the 18th century was profound. Extracts from Life of Thomas Paine, shown here, was published in 1822, 13 years after his death, at a point when his legacy in the longer term was only beginning to be properly understood. His earlier work Common Sense, first published in 1776, had offered a critique of British rule in the American colonies by arguing that Britain only had her self-interests at heart and cared little for the interests of people who lived so far away. The book was widely read among ordinary American patriots and the sentiments it contained offered primary justifications for the American revolutionary wars of the late 1770s.

In the early 1790s Thomas Paine turned his attention to Revolutionary France. In perhaps his greatest work, Rights of Man, he argued that political revolution was always justified whenever the natural rights of man were no longer protected by the crown. Paine opposed the hereditary aspects of British government which he believed was a self-interested institution run for the benefit of a land-owning elite. Paine advocated the proper delegation of powers within a representative democracy and was distinctly anti-monarchist in his outlook. His political vision, however, was considered treasonous by the standards of the day. Paine was forced to flee Britain for France and was later convicted of a seditious libel in his absence.

Full title
Extracts from the Life of Thomas Paine ... particularly after his return from France to America.
Published
estimated 1820 , Bishopsgate, London
Format
Pamphlet
Creator
unknown
Held by
British Library
Usage Terms
Free from known copyright restrictions
Shelfmark
8135.aaa.18.(1.)

Related articles

William Blake's radical politics

Article by
Andrew Lincoln
Themes: 
Poverty and the working classes, Romanticism, Power and politics

The French Revolution inspired London radicals and reformers to increase their demands for change. Others called for moderation and stability, while the government tried to suppress radical activity. Professor Andrew Lincoln describes the political environment in which William Blake was writing.

The impact of the Napoleonic Wars in Britain

Article by
Ruth Mather
Theme: 
Power and politics

The start of the 19th century was a time of hostility between France and England, marked by a series of wars. Throughout this period, England feared a French invasion led by Napoleon. Ruth Mather explores the impact of this fear on literature and on everyday life.

Chapbooks

Article by
Ruth Richardson
Themes: 
Popular culture, Reading and print culture

Chapbooks were small, affordable forms of literature for children and adults that were sold on the streets, and covered a range of subjects from fairy tales and ghost stories to news of politics, crime or disaster. Dr Ruth Richardson explains what this literature looked like, its subject matter and the ways in which it was produced.

Related collection items

Related works

Songs of Innocence and of Experience

Created by: William Blake

A collection of poems by William Blake (1757 – 1827), illustrated with the poet's own etchings and published ...