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Thomas Paine's Common Sense
Transcript of Thomas Paine's Common Sense
History Of Common Sense
Written by Thomas Paine
Published in 1776 in retaliation
What Was It?
A pamplet written by Thomas Paine that inspired the thirteen colonies to take up arms against the british.
Why was it so popular?
One of the reasons Common Sense was so effective because it was written in such clear, simple language. It laid out the advantages and the need for immediate independence from the British.
Common Sense also presented the American colonists with an argument for freedom from British rule at a time when the question of whether or not to seek independence was the central issue of the day.
Paine wrote and reasoned in a style that common people understood. He structured Common Sense as if it were a sermon, and relied on Biblical references to make his case to the people. He connected independence with common dissenting Protestant beliefs as a means to present a distinctly American political identity. Historian Gordon S. Wood described Common Sense as "the most incendiary and popular pamphlet of the entire revolutionary era".
Spreading the "Sense"
Thomas Paines "Common Sense" swept through
the Colonies with amazing speed.
It began with its publication in 1776, selling almost 120,000 copies in the first three months.
Due to the large number of illiterates in the Colonies, those who could read began reading
aloud in public gatherings and taverns.
Besides the printed pamphlet itself, there were hundreds of handwritten summaries and whole copies circulating as well.
Eventually newspapers began simply printing sections of the pamphlet and even entire copies of it in their papers.
The writing was not only limited to the colonies either. It was sold in most of Europe, predominately France and England.
Thomas Paine's pamphlet made such a large impact on the colonies because it brought the common, uneducated people into the political world by giving them arguements and reasons worded in a way that made sense to everyone, even those who were unable to read.
Thomas Paine's Arguments
It was absurd for an island to rule a continent.
America was not a "British nation"; but was composed of influences and peoples from all of Europe.
Even if Britain were the "mother country" of America, that made her actions all the more horrendous, for no mother would harm her children so brutally.
Being a part of Britain would drag America into unnecessary European wars, and keep her from the international commerce at which America excelled.
The distance between the two nations made governing the colonies from England unwieldy. If some wrong were to be petitioned to Parliament, it would take a year before the colonies received a response.
The New World was discovered shortly before the Reformation. The Puritans believed that God wanted to give them a safe haven from the persecution of British rule.
Britain ruled the colonies for her own benefit, and did not consider the best interests of the colonists in governing Britain.
The Main Message
Paine's concise and concentrated pamphlet impacted the colonists in ways only felt by a people oppressed by tyranny. His call for independence affected everyone from the Founding Fathers to the common folk who had joined Washington's army to fight the British. It influenced people from all walks of life to jump off the fence and become Patriots, to say yes to separation, and to embrace the coming fight for freedom. Paine did not single-handedly bring on the fight for independence; it was a community effort of enormous proportions. Common Sense was a thoughtful and influential description of the times.