Thomas Paine was a plain talking, big thinking common man - self educated in matters of science, philosophy, activism and political theory. His pamphlets and books inspired ordinary people throughout the colonies of America to stand up for their rights and throw off the yoke of British domination. Soon after, these books were smuggled into France, where they inspired the Third Estate to agitate for the guarantee of their natural rights. Eventually, this grass roots activism would lead to the overthrow of the French Monarchy in the French Revolution, where Paine would be granted honorary citizenship, a seat in its parliament and a voice in the drafting of the French Republic's constitution. He would eventually go on to write on many issues of social justice, including abolition, universal suffrage, aged care, education, welfare, healthcare and anti-corruption in government. This occasionally made him a target of powerful people, and despite his heroic status, he was eventually marginalized and forgotten. Overshadowed by the major players who used his tireless campaigning to their advantage, Paine died in obscurity and poverty, having transformed the landscape of democracy across three continents, and was the source of many of our greatest achievements in civil discourse and progress over the last 250 years.
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