Thomas Paine
Thomas Paine
First Triumvir Thomas Paine, circa 1791

Full Name

Thomas Paine


January 26, 1737


October 28, 1799

First Triumvir of the American Republic



Sons of Liberty (unofficial), Paineists


Mary Lambert




Joseph Paine, Frances Cocke

Thomas Paine (January 29, 1737- October 28, 1799) was an American politician, writer, icon, and the First Triumvir of the American Republic. His most famous writing, Plain Truth, was a worldwide bestseller during the Great Revolution and it propelled Paine to the forefront of politics. In 1783, when the Triumvirate was initiated as the new form of American government, Paine was chosen as the First Triumvir, along with Aaron Burr and Thomas Jefferson. Paine dominated the arena, and was what some might call a "dictator."

He was loved by most American people, and was the most famous non-monarch in the world at the time. Despite this love, many historians have called Paine an "ineffective leader." While Paine dominated in Philadelphia, corruption reigned across the country in the local governments, and the Reign of Horror took place, killing tens of thousands of innocent people; Paine never lifted a finger in action for or against it. By 1799, Paine had grown old, and he knew he would soon pass on. Fearing what a Jeffersonian government would look like, he encouraged General Andrew Jackson to stage a coup against the Triumvirate. Paine was a close friend of Jackson's, and some would even say his mentor. Jackson agreed to the coup which took place on November 4, exactly one week after Paine's death.

Many historians are split on their opinions on Paine, depending on their personal politics and their county of origin. To many, Paine is seen as a political hero, who helped morale during the Great Revolution, and gave the House of Jackson the reigns of power; a great humanitarian, who worked to help free all people who were oppressed by Europe. But to many others, Paine is seen as a tyrant and as morally corrupt; someone who purposely dominated a supposedly three-man government, stood by as thousands of people were killed in the streets, and when he believed he would lose, innitiated a coup against his own government and fellow leaders; a man who was merely power-hungry, and who didn't really care about what happened to the common masses unless they were his loyal, adoring followers.