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Happy 285th Birthday to Thomas Paine, tax resistor

Thomas Paine is best known here in the USA for writing "Common Sense" and "The American Crisis" but he didn't immigrate to Philadelphia until he was in his late thirties.

Paine was born in Norfolk and held several craft and mercantile jobs before going into government work as an excise officer, and that experience pushed him to get involved in civic matters, especially pro-republican (small 'r') and workers' rights issues. He had been writing complaints about the gov't for years before he was introduced to Ben Franklin, who persuaded him to move to Philly, where he could really let himself go on these topics.

During the revolutionary war, Paine was working in foreign affairs, which mostly meant handling the finances with France, which bankrolled the rebellion in the colonies as part of the larger competition with England - like other hotheaded writers, he helped keep attention on relatively abstract ideals like freedom while the real practical matters like fishing rights and land ownership were being sorted out. He then got similarly involved in the French Revolution.

One of Paine's many side hustles was architecture, and he patented a type of arched iron bridge that was used to cross the Schuykill River in Philadelphia and the Wear River at Sunderland in England. He resettled in America after years in France, but by that time the US was in one of its wacky religious fervors and he was no longer popular, reason having gone out of fashion. At least that doesn't happen any more nowadays, amirite?