Common Sense by Thomas PaineThroughout history, some books have changed the world. They have transformed the way we see ourselves—and each other. They have inspired debate, dissent, war and revolution. They have enlightened, outraged, provoked and comforted. They have enriched lives—and destroyed them.
Published anonymously in 1776, six months before the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Paine’s Common Sense was a radical and impassioned call for America to free itself from British rule and set up an independent republican government.
Savagely attacking hereditary kingship and aristocratic institutions, Paine urged a new beginning for his adopted country in which personal freedom and social equality would be upheld and economic and cultural progress encouraged.
His pamphlet was the first to speak directly to a mass audience—it went through fifty-six editions within a year of publication—and its assertive and often caustic style both embodied the democratic spirit he advocated, and converted thousands of citizens to the cause of American independence.
Thomas Paine: The Revolutionary War in Four Minutes
Thomas Paine was born on January 29, in Thetford, Norfolk. The son of an artisan, he was well educated at Thetford Grammar School but soon chafed at the constraints of his home town. His chequered career eventually led him to the American colonies where he emigrated in with the help of Benjamin Franklin.
Using clear, plain language, Paine rallied the colonists to support the break from Britain. In arguing for American independence, Paine denounced the monarchy and argued that people are born in to a state of equality. An advocate of natural rights theory, Paine claimed that there are no natural rulers among men. He then proposed a system of representative government for the colonies. Finally, Paine stated his reasons why the time was right for the break from England. The pamphlet was published and widely read—read by as great a proportion of the population as watches the Superbowl today.
Throughout most of his life, his writings inspired passion, but also brought him great criticism. He communicated the ideas of the Revolution to common farmers as easily as to intellectuals, creating prose that stirred the hearts of the fledgling United States. He had a grand vision for society: he was staunchly anti-slavery, and he was one of the first to advocate a world peace organization and social security for the poor and elderly. But his radical views on religion would destroy his success, and by the end of his life, only a handful of people attended his funeral. His father, a corseter, had grand visions for his son, but by the age of 12, Thomas had failed out of school.
January 29, ] [Note 1] — June 8, was an English-born American political activist, philosopher, political theorist, and revolutionary. He authored the two most influential pamphlets at the start of the American Revolution and inspired the patriots in to declare independence from Great Britain.
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How Thomas Paine’s other pamphlet saved the Revolution
Thomas Paine was an influential 18th-century writer of essays and pamphlets. Among them were "The Age of Reason," regarding the place of religion in society; "Rights of Man," a piece defending the French Revolution; and "Common Sense," which was published during the American Revolution. Paine received little formal education but did learn to read, write and perform arithmetic. At the age of 13, he began working with his father as stay maker the thick rope stays used on sailing ships in Thetford, a shipbuilding town. Some sources state he and his father were corset makers, but most historians cite this as an example of slanders spread by his enemies. He later worked as an officer of the excise, hunting smugglers and collecting liquor and tobacco taxes.