Thomas Paine

Masonic Biographies

Thomas Paine

Born: Saturday, 09 February 1737
Died: Thursday, 08 June 1809


Thomas Paine was an inspirational author and patriot whose written works demonstrated his dedication to the Masonic tenets of morality, equality, and truth.


Thomas Paine, a moral and philosophical revolutionary, found his raison-d'etre in the murkily uncertain and dashingly dangerous moment in history that is now known as the American War of Independence. A great battle for freedom – devised and led by prominent Freemasons – in which the shining light of liberty was wrested from English hands.

Born in England in 1737, Paine came to the British American colonies in 1774 due to the help and encouragement of Brother Benjamin Franklin, arriving just in time to participate in the American Revolution. No American was left un-influenced by his powerful work, Common Sense, which tipped the balance and removed any hesitation on the part of the rebels to declare independence from Great Britain. Common Sense's impact was so profound that U.S. President John Adams stated:

"Without the pen of the author of Common Sense, the sword of Washington would have been raised in vain."

As an advocate of the abolition of all forms of human slavery, Brother Thomas Paine lived, breathed, and wrote a century before his time. The fervency of his spirit and the acceleration of his career upon his arrival in the colonies were both indicators of a member of the ancient craft of Freemasonry. Although no definite proof of his initiation remains, Paine extolled in his writings and demonstrated in his actions the qualities that true Freemasons hold to be the sacrosanct commandments of the Universe itself. Brother Paine's "An Essay on the Origin of Free-Masonry" certainly demonstrates a level of knowledge pertaining to the Craft that would be difficult to come by at that time by the un-initiated. His philosophy, relationships, outlook, writings, and actions all connect him to Freemasonry; whether that be solely in essence or also in admission – remains a mystery.

Ultimately, there is enough evidence to bestow, even posthumously, Brother Thomas Paine his Masonic Title. Paine worked to elevate the triune virtues of the human race — Liberty, Equality, Fraternity — and demonstrated an overwhelming commitment to what is moral, good, and true. Thus, he did his duty to the Craft, without thought as to whether his legacy would receive ridicule or praise.

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