Thomas Paine

Born in Thetford the son of a corset maker and apprenticed to him, Thomas was not a great scholar at school and went to sea at 19. He eventually became a tax collector or excise man for George III’s government and worked in Grantham for two years. His career took him to America where he became a journalist. He published “Common Sense” in 1776 – a strong defence of American independence from England. After adventures in France, being imprisoned for not endorsing the execution of Louis XVI, he returned to America having written”The Rights of Man” and later “The Age of Reason”. His writings inspired great passion and also brought him much criticism but he created prose with ideas that stirred the hearts of the fledgling United States. He was derided by the public and abandoned by his friends but has now become honoured and regarded as one of the Founding fathers of the United States. His story is taught to every child in the US.

The Grantham plaque in the George Centre records Tom Paine staying at the George Hotel but in fact it was the George Inn which was on the site in 1762. The plaque was the gift of the Rotary Club of Grantham and was unveiled on 17th August 2011 by Ray Burman, the President of Rotary in Britain & Ireland (to acknowledge Rotary’s US founder) and Karen Huntress, the assistant cultural attaché representing the US ambassador to the UK. The American University of Evansville at Harlaxton was represented by the Principal Gordon Kingsley.

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