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  • Famous Ancestor: Thomas Paine

    Thomas Paine, a poor corsetmaker, came to the colonies from England in 1774, just in time to participate in the American Revolution. He published his famed pamphlet Common Sense anonymously in Philadelphia in January of 1776.

    Unlike earlier revolutionaries, who had criticized Parliament's taxation of the colonies but not the king himself, Paine attacked King George as a tyrant and denounced the institution of monarchy on the grounds that all men were created equal. He used Biblical language to condemn King George, calling him the "Pharaoh of England" and comparing his taxation of the colonies to the oppression of the Israelites by Solomon. He wrote:

    "But where, some say, is the King of America? I'll tell you, Friend, he reigns above, and doth not make havoc of mankind...let a day be solemnly set apart for proclaiming the charter; let it be brought forth placed on the divine law, the word of God; let a crown be placed thereon, by which the world may know...that in America THE LAW IS KING. For in absolute governments the King is the law, so in free countries the law ought to be the King."

    From 1776 to 1783, Paine published a pamphlet series entitled The American Crisis, in which he wrote the famed words, "These are the times that try men's souls," and argued for the revolutionary cause.

    To view Thomas Paine's Family Tree, login to OneGreatFamily, launch Genealogy Browser, and enter OGFN#596897443. You can also see whether or not you are related to Thomas Paine by going to the Relationship Calculator on the Family Dashboard Page when you login to OneGreatFamily.

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  • Famous Ancestor - Nelson Mandela

    Born as Rolihlahla Mandela, Nelson Mandela was given his English first name by a schoolteacher. He was the first president of South Africa to be elected in fully democratic elections and held office from 1994 to 1999.

    Mandela was born in 1918 in the South African district of Umtata. After studying law, he became politically active in the African National Congress (ANC) and worked to end apartheid. Although he initially advocated nonviolent protest, he became disillusioned with the effectiveness of nonviolent tactics and in 1961 he led a bombing campaign against government buildings. In 1964, he was arrested along with other prominent ANC leaders and convicted of sabotage and armed action against the South African government.

    He was imprisoned at Robben Island, just off the coast near Cape Town, for the next eighteen years. In 1982 he was moved to another prison; finally in 1990 he was released by South African president Frederik Willem de Klerk. That same year, the ANC's existence was legalized and Mandela was elected as the organization's official president.

    Mandela and de Klerk participated in a series of negotiations and peace talks, and they were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. On 27 April 1994, South Africa's first fully democratic elections were held and the ANC won 62% of the votes. As the elected leader of the ANC, Nelson Mandela became the first president of non-apartheid South Africa and led his nation into a new age of equality.

    To view Nelson Mandela's Family Tree, login to OneGreatFamily, launch Genealogy Browser, and enter OGFN# 598568281. You can also see whether or not you are related to Nelson Mandela by going to the Relationship Calculator on the Family Dashboard Page when you login to OneGreatFamily.

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  • Famous Ancestor: Benjamin Franklin

    Born in Boston in 1706, Benjamin Franklin was the youngest son of Josiah Franklin, a chandler and soap maker. At a young age Franklin was apprenticed to his older brother James, who was a printer. James started The New England Courant, the first truly independent newspaper in the colonies (other papers just re-printed news from London). Wanting to write for the paper but knowing that James wouldn't let him, young Franklin contributed for the paper under the pseudonym "Silence Dogood."

    In 1723 Franklin ran away from his apprenticeship and went to Philadelphia. He was hired by Pennsylvania governor Sir William Keith to go to London to secure printing equipment. Upon his return to Philadelphia, Franklin purchased The Pennsylvania Gazette and was finally able to go into the printing business for himself. He began publishing Poor Richard's Almanack in 1733; many of the aphorisms associated with Franklin come from the Almanack.

    Franklin became involved in politics in the 1750s; in 1754 at the Albany Congress in New York, he proposed a plan for unification of the American colonies. In 1757 he went to London to represent the Pennsylvania Assembly in a dispute over the colony's charter. After returning to Philadelphia for two years, he went to London again in 1764. In 1765 he was instrumental in convincing Parliament to repeal the Stamp Act. In 1775 he returned to the colonies and began working for independence. In 1776 he signed the Declaration of Independence and then embarked for France. As ambassador to France, he secured the Treaty of Alliance in 1778 and helped to negotiate the Treaty of Paris at the end of the war in 1783. After returning to Philadelphia, he was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention and a signer of the Constitution.

    To view Benjamin Franklin's Family Tree, visit:

    http://www.onegreatfamily.com/GenealogyBrowser/FamousAncestor.aspx?Name=benjaminfranklin

    You can also see whether or not you are related to Benjamin Franklin by going to the Relationship Calculator on the Family Dashboard Page when you login to OneGreatFamily.

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  • Famous Ancestor: Samuel Adams

    Bostonian, revolutionary, inciter of the Boston Tea Party, and signer of the Declaration of Independence-by many accounts, Samuel Adams was the man of the American Revolution. He served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives and the Boston Town Meeting for many years and spearheaded nearly every revolutionary effort taken in Massachusetts.

    One of Adams' most enduring contributions was the Massachusetts Circular Letter. In 1767, the British Parliament passed the Townshend Revenue Act, imposing new duties on lead, glass, paper, paint, and tea. The revenue generated by these new taxes would be used to pay the salaries of royal governors and officers in the colonies, making them no longer dependent upon-and therefore no longer answerable to-colonial legislatures. In protest of the Townshend Revenue Act, the Massachusetts House of Representatives issued the circular letter in 1768, drafted by Samuel Adams. The letter was sent to the lower houses of all the other colonies, calling on them to protest against the Townshend duties by boycotting British goods.

    When the First Continental Congress was called in 1775, Adams was one of the five Massachusetts delegates chosen to attend. The following year, he attended the Second Continental Congress. Later he would serve as the governor of Massachusetts from 1789 to 1797, but his greatest contribution was as an American revolutionary, and that is how he is remembered by Americans today.

    To view Samuel Adams' Family Tree, login to OneGreatFamily, launch Genealogy Browser, and enter OGFN#512686524. You can also see whether or not you are related to Samuel Adams by going to the Relationship Calculator on the Family Dashboard Page when you login to OneGreatFamily.

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