There is always that individual, in any situation, that you can say stays above the fray. The guy that seems to speak for all of us, but really takes no sides. He makes us all think and finally, when it's all said and done, makes us all agree. We read what he's wrote, nod our heads, and say, yeah that's how I feel too. What he writes sells wildly and it becomes the way we all speak to make our point.
In the days before, during, and after the American Revolution, that guy was Thomas Paine. In Political Science speak, he was the ultimate libertarian. Paine was against restrictive government, in fact, he despised it and his words in his writings are a treatise against it. Revolting against the King was, in essence, a libertarian view, I think. If anything, Thomas Paine got revolution.
Thomas Paine believed in revolution so much, that he was in France during the French Revolution which began in 1789 with the storming of the Bastille. He arrived in 1790 and became a vital part of the revolution. As the French Revolution spun out of control he was arrested in 1794. He was nearly beheaded and escaped only by the lucky stroke that his cellmates concealed chalk marks that designated those to be executed.
He didn't return to America until 1802 where he died in 1809. Paine was incapable of avoiding revolution which led him to be elected twice to the French Convention, once before he was jailed and once after. I admire his words, although I am not so sure of his love of revolution. Being integral in both the American and the French Revolutions is testament to his acumen and inspiration as a writer.
If John Adams was the conscience of the revolution and Thomas Jefferson was the voice of the revolution, and George Washington was the inspiration of the revolution, Thomas Paine was the spirit of the revolution. His words were read throughout the colonies and kept Americans on the road to revolution. I would love to match words with him, but alas, I'm not worthy.
Suffice it say that Thomas Paine is in reality one of the Founding Fathers. Read these words from his pamphlet, "The Crisis." If you are a student of the revolution, read "Common Sense." When you are finished you will understand what the Founding Fathers intended us to inherit from them.
These are the times that try men's souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.
Thomas Paine, The Crisis