Thomas Paine Publishes Common Sense – 1/9/1776

US History |

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Writer Thomas Paine was known for many things during his life and the American Revolution; however, one piece of literature he is mostly well-known for was nothing but a simple pamphlet. This “simple pamphlet” was published on January 9th, 1776 and writer Thomas Paine gives it the title “Common Sense.” The contents lists his reasons for showing favor towards American independence and while pamphlets mat not seem so important in today’s society, the 16th through 19th centuries used pamphlets as a medium to use as a way to share ideas with others.

“Common Sense” was originally published anonymously being how it was a support for the American colonies should declare their independence from Britain; many have considered this to be one of the most important and influential pamphlets in the history of America. This document has been credited with being able to unite political leaders and average citizens behind the concept of independence; “Common Sense” would play a pivotal role in creating a squabble among colonists into the American Revolution.

During the time that “Common Sense” was drafted, Paine realized that a good number of colonists thought of themselves as aggrieved Britons. Without Paine’s eloquent use of language, the colonists would have most likely not gone on to the next level in which the American Revolution would have never started. Instead, Paine was able to break down the general argument that they had with the British crown as he went on to write the following: “Europe, and not England, is the parent country of America.  This new world hath been the asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and religious liberty from every part of Europe.  Hither they have fled, not from the tender embraces of the mother, but from the cruelty of the monster; and it is so far true of England, that the same tyranny which drove the first emigrants from home, pursues their descendants still.”

Born in England in 1737, Thomas Paine first worked as a corset creator during his teens and would continue on as being both a teacher and a sailor before embarking on becoming a prominent pamphleteer. Paine made his way to Philadelphia and arrived in 1774 in which he would eventually come and support independence for America. His 47-page pamphlet that was created two years later was able to sell roughly 500,000 copies; this would become a key component in powerfully persuading opinion in America.

Paine continued on and found his way serving in the U.S. Army as well as working for the Committee of Foreign Affairs until he returned in 1787 to Europe. Once he was back in England, Paine went on writing pamphlets in endorsing the revolution. Moving on, he wrote “The Rights of Man” in showing his support for the French Revolution in 1791-1792; this was meant to answer Edmund Burke’s well-known “Reflections on the Revolution in France” in 1790. Unfortunately, his beliefs were extremely unpopular with the British government that was still-monarchal; although he retreated to France, his political opinions later would lead to getting arrested. Returning in 1802 to the United States, he would end up in New York and pass away in 1809.

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Meg Wong

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