Thomas Paine has the claim to the title of being one of the founding fathers of the United States. Born in England in 1737 he was always a revolutionary and political activist. He wrote some of the most influential pamphlets which some historians put down as the main inspiration to the American Revolution. What you might find a little shocking though is he was once a privateer. A legally sanctioned pirate by the British monarch.
A privateer was a private person or ship that entered the maritime war and legally was allowed to attack ships flying enemy colors, in this case, enemies of the British government. Quite funny considering how Paine then became a revolutionary against the British in later life. When you look into his past, it is not so hard to understand why this came to be. Paine’s father was a master staymaker, which is the profession of creating the thick ropes needed on ships. From an early life, Paine always had a connection to the sea and to the shipping industry, so that explains why during his late adolescence life he entered the world of privateering. By 1759, he was back in Britain.
It wasn’t for another fifteen years give or take, that this buckling pirate went on his journey to the Newfoundland and started his real political activist career. In 1774, he met Benjamin Franklin who believed Paine should emigrate to the American colonies. Which he did so with a letter of recommendation from Franklin himself. The voyage did nearly kill him with typhoid fever and a dangerous voyage through stormy weather. Paine, however, made it, and after a six week recovery period was ready for his new life: taking up a position of an editor at the Pennsylvania Magazine.
His claim to the title of The Father Of the American Revolution comes from two pamphlets he published. One was named Common Sense and it came to an immediate success. The estimation that in three months 100,000 copies were sold and that during the course of the revolution around 500,000 were sold. Also, there would have been numerous unauthorized editions. The success was due to the plain language and Paine’s unique ability to convey complex ideas easily. Maybe something he learned during his days of hanging out with pirates?