Jan 10th, 1776 “Common Sense” Published


Thomas Paine's "Common Sense,", published in 1776, is a 47-page pamphlet advocating independence from Great Britain for the Thirteen Colonies. It became a key text of the American Revolution, igniting public sentiment for the cause.

The title of the pamphlet itself is significant. Paine is appealing to the colonists' common sense, their ability to reason for themselves and see the truth of his arguments. He avoids complex philosophical arguments and instead focuses on practical matters that would affect the lives of ordinary people.

Common Sense was a bestseller and is estimated to have been read by one in four colonists. It helped to unite the colonists behind the cause of independence and gave them the courage to fight for their freedom.

    Paine argues that all humans are created equal and should be governed by consent, not by a monarchy based on hereditary succession.  He criticizes British rule as oppressive and argues that the colonies have no representation in Parliament, making them subject to unfair taxation and regulations. Paine highlights the potential for self-government, economic prosperity, and freedom from religious persecution that independence could bring.

      Written in clear and persuasive language, "Common Sense" resonated with the colonists, particularly those who were not well-versed in political theory. It was widely read and discussed, helping to unite public opinion behind the idea. The pamphlet's arguments were influential in shaping public opinion in the months leading up to the Declaration of Independence, and it is considered a major catalyst for the American Revolution.

      While "Common Sense" was not the first call for independence, it was the most widely read and influential. one in four colonist read it. Paine's arguments were not always original, but he presented them in a fresh and accessible way that resonated with the colonists. The pamphlet was translated into many languages and had a wide influence beyond the United States.

      Common Sense is considered one of the most important works of American political literature. It is a powerful reminder of the importance of individual liberty and the right of self-government.

        Additional reading about Paine reading to Thomas Jefferson is here
        Image sourced from Penguin Press

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