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Common Sense in 1776

September 20, 2010

Common Sense is a 48-page pamphlet that first appeared during the American Revolution in January 1776 written by Thomas Paine, a Founding Father of the United States.

Originally, Paine published the pamphlet anonymously, and strategically signed it “Written by an Englishman” out of fear of being accused of treason by the British Monarchy. Our country’s independence from Great Britain was still a pending matter among the colonies, and had not been fully decided on as of yet. In that regard, Common Sense became pivotal by selling half a million copies in its first year of circulation alone. It formalized and solidified an argument against British rule.

Common Sense

With the publication of Common Sense, Paine justified the American Revolution by challenging the English Constitution, advocating for freedom and independence from Great Britain. Common Sense opposes monarchal and aristocratic tyranny describing the Constitution of England as being “farcical.”

Paine viewed the dynamic between society and government as one of “natural liberty” stating that elections would help maintain a balance between the two. Paine also formed the argument that all men are created equal, therefore defining the whole concept of “kings and subjects” as senseless and untrue. Towards the end of Common Sense, Paine truly uses his common sense in reasoning that the vast lumber the U.S. possessed was more than enough to build a navy that would compete with the British Royal Navy in a time of war.

Thomas Paine

The mass appeal of Common Sense was widely due to the style in which Paine wrote it. The pamphlet was written in a way so that the common person would be able to understand and relate to it. Paine accomplished this, in part, by using Biblical references that appealed to the masses.

Due to the success of Common Sense, Paine acquired the title The Father of the Revolution.

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