Remembering Thomas Paine: Common Sense

Published anonymously by Thomas Paine in January of 1776, ‘Common Sense’ raises instant attention, both in the colonies and in Europe. It goes through several editions in Philadelphia, and is republished in all parts of United America.

‘Common Sense’ brings the rising revolutionary sentiment into sharp focus by placing blame for the suffering of the colonies directly on the reigning British monarch, George III.

Thomas Paine writes and reasons in a style that common people understand; forgoing the philosophy and Latin references used by Enlightenment era writers. Paine structures ‘Common Sense’ like a sermon and relies on Biblical references to make his case to the people. It has been called “the most incendiary and popular pamphlet of the entire revolutionary era”.

It advocates an immediate declaration of independence, postulating a special moral obligation of America to the rest of the world. Not long after publication, the spirit of Thomas Paine’s argument finds resonance in the American Declaration of Independence.

As to the ‘special moral obligation of America’, Thomas Paine has ever since been turning in his grave.


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