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THE present edition of Mr. Paine's political writings contains a number of his works never before published in any American edition. It has been the object of the present publisher to include in it all his writings which are not obnoxious to personal or religious objections. His "Letter to General Washington" was omitted because it was believed to have been written during a time of great irritation of mind, occasioned by his imprisonment, while in France, and from a misconception of the motives which induced Washington to refrain from interfering to obtain his release. Previous to that, he had always professed the highest respect for, and admiration of, that great man's character and talents.
Some letters, addressed "to the people of the United States," written after his return to this country, in 1802, were excluded because they relate to the party disputes of the day, and are barren of interest at the present time.
With the above exceptions, the first volume contains all his writings which treat on American affairs.
The second volume contains all his European publications, which could be obtained, and comprises all that are of any importance.
It was only intended to give the most prominent parts of Mr. Paine's life, in the Sketch which is prefixed to the first volume.
Charlestown, Mass. August, 1824.
Dissertations on Government, the affairs of the Bank, and Paper
THOMAS PAINE was born in Thetford, county of Norfolk, England, in January, 1737. His father was a staymaker by trade, and professed the Quaker system of religion. His parents were respectable though poor, which prevented their giving him a college education. All the learning which he possessed, was obtained at a common English grammar school.
He left school when he was about thirteen and went to work with his father, at staymaking, where he continued two or three years. He then went to London, and afterwards to Dover, working at his trade a few weeks in each place. About this time he entered on board a privateer, but was prevented from going in her, as he says, "by the affectionate and moral remonstrances of his father." Dissatisfied, however, with his profession, he soon after entered and sailed in the privateer Terrible. How long he was absent is uncertain.
In the year 1759, he settled at Sandwich, as a master-staymaker, and married Mary Lambert, who died the next year.
He obtained a situation in the excise in 1761, which he retained till 1774.
In 1771, he married Elizabeth Olive; he lived with her but a short time; a separation took place, the real cause of which, although a number have been assigned, as is usual in such cases,