|Born in England to a corsetmaker and his wife, Thomas Paine was largely self-educated and held jobs as a sailor, a corsetmaker, and a revenue officer before he met Benjamin Franklin who, recognizing his abilities, gave Paine a letter of introduction and encouraged him to go to America. Paine made the journey in 1774, and was given a job on the Pennsylvania magazine, where he was able to write essays and to view firsthand what life was in the colonies. His first major publication, COMMON SENSE, was a treatise on government, and the need for independence from English rule. It was widely circulated and highly influential in the colonies. Paine joined the revolutionary army and served under General Washington, who distributed another piece by Paine THE AMERICAN CRISIS to his troops. After the war Paine went to England, where he was briefly imprisoned, and to France. He wrote his two-part work on political philosophy RIGHTS OF MAN.