History's HEROES? 1737 - 1809

Thomas Paine

Should Thomas Paine be considered a hero?

Arguments for
  • He was generous.
    Although moody and arrogant; he was also affectionate and generous, he never charged for any of his writing
  • He suggested solutions for social and economic problems.
    He was not only an agitator, but also a keen analyst of social and economic problems. He advocated social measures which were far in advance of his time.
  • He promoted the idea of Universal suffrage (votes for all).
    He argued for universal suffrage and equality. These ideas would not be realised for many more years but encouraged people to push for reform.
  • He was brave, and risked his life to promote what he thought was right.
    For example, he spoke out against the killing of the king of France, even though he was aware that he was risking his own safety and life by doing so.
Arguments against
  • He was inconsistent and would alter his rhetoric (what he said) if he thought it served a greater cause.
    For example, he wrote against slavery in 1774, yet the next year warned Americans about the possibility of "savages and Negroes" helping the Hessians burn American towns.
  • He was self-willed and arrogant.
    Few of his friendships lasted after they became close. He became embittered, which separated him from men who admired his abilities and wanted to befriend him.
  • He was an anti-authoritarian troublemaker.
    From England, where he risked his life antagonising the monarchy, to Robespierre’s war-torn France, where he served in a revolutionary assembly and again endangered himself, Paine was an anti-authoritarian troublemaker of the highest effectiveness.

Arguments for:

    Arguments against:

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