The enormous popularity of his pamphletCommon Sensemade Thomas Paine one of the best-known patriots during the early years of American independence. His subsequent service with the Continental Army, his publication ofThe American Crisis(1776-83), and his work with Pennsylvania's revolutionary government consolidated his reputation as one of the foremost radicals of the Revolution. Thereafter, Paine spent almost fifteen years in Europe, where he was actively involved in the French Revolution, articulating his radical social, economic, and political vision in major publications such asThe Rights of Man(1791),The Age of Reason(1793-1807), andAgrarian Justice(1797). Such radicalism was deemed a danger to the state in his native Britain, where Paine was found guilty of sedition, and even in the United States some of Paine's later publications lost him a great deal of his early popularity.
Yet despite this legacy, historians have paid less attention to Paine than to other leading Patriots such as Thomas Jefferson. InPaine and Jefferson in the Age of Revolutions,editors Simon Newman and Peter Onuf present a collection of essays that examine how the reputations of two figures whose outlooks were so similar have had such different trajectories.
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