An important 18th century radical republican theorist and political writer, Thomas Paine was a leading figure in the American Revolution. Despite his humble beginnings and lack of formal education, his reasoned and persuasive writings not only influenced nascent American republican ideology, but profoundly affected the perception of government in England and France as well. His three most influential works are Common Sense (1776), The Rights of Man (1791-1792), and The Age of Reason (1794, 1795, 1807).
The Richard Gimbel Collection is a heterogeneous mix of items connected only by the fact that they were all collected by Gimbel (1898-1970) and that most were written by, to, or about the revolutionary Paine. Of primary importance are the approximately sixty-five letters or manuscripts in Paine's own hand, including Paine's 1776 manuscript notes for Common Sense, his letter of January 10, 1781, in which he takes leave of his former commanding officer, Nathanael Greene, and his January 6, 1789 letter to Kitty Nicholson Few, in which he writes of his view of matrimony and other personal matters. The collection includes a series of correspondence between Thomas Paine and Samuel Adams, which were originally marked "forgeries," these appear instead simply to be the letters of two men bearing famous names.