Thomas Paine: Common Sense

(1776)

By the close of 1775, after years of antagonism between the American people and the British government, not a single patriot had stepped forth to passionately argue the case for refusing the control of the empire centered across the Atlantic Ocean. The first patriot to speak out for this cause was Thomas Paine, who presented his ideas in the pamphlet Common Sense. The pamphlet was first published and distributed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on January 9, 1776—nine months after the first clash between American and British soldiers in Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts. Six months after the publication of Common Sense, the Continental Congress formally issued Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence, and the Revolutionary War officially began.

Paine was, in fact, an Englishman who had been in North America for only about a year when he wrote Common Sense. As such he was perhaps in a good position to understand the illegitimacy and absurdity of his home country's...

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Thomas Paine (Library of Congress)

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