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Thomas Paine (1737-1809) was a radical writer who emigrated from England to America in 1774. Just two years later, early in 1776, Paine published Common Sense, a hugely influential pamphlet that convinced many American colonists that the time had finally come to break away from British rule. No other figure played a greater role in moving the American people from a spirit of rebellion to one of revolution.

In Common Sense, Paine—perhaps influenced by his own recent experience as an immigrant—celebrated America's unique role in the world as a safe haven for immigrants, describing the colonies romantically as "the asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and religious liberty from every part of Europe."

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