(1737-1809) an English writer and politician who wrote and spoke in favour of freedom and democracy. He moved to America in 1774 and wrote Common Sense (1776), a short book proposing American independence from Britain. When he returned to England he wrote The Rights of Man in support of the French Revolution, and had to escape to France to avoid being arrested for treason (= the crime of betraying the state). In France he became a member of the revolutionary government, but was put in prison because he was opposed to killing the king. There he wrote the last of his famous books, The Age of Reason (1794-5), which attacked many Christian beliefs and practices.