Common Sense is a pamphlet written by Thomas Paine (anonymously) in 1776 advocating for sovereignty from Great Britain. The pamphlet discusses the importance of American independence within society, government and religion. Paine writes that society is produced by peoples wants and promotes happiness by bringing together affections. He says that government is produced by evil and negatively restrains our morals. In other words, society is good and people want to join it and government is an evil institution that should be avoided. Paine also writes that it is crucial for government to protect religion and America should be a place of complete religious freedom.
Paine does not support government involvement. He said that government is only good if it provides more solutions than problems. Paine worked diligently to persuade colonists to end their loyalties to the king. He wrote Common Sense to spread his arguments for freedom from government institutions and to destroy the idea of monarchy. He argued for democracy and revolution. Paine was confident that a revolution was the right thing to do and war against Great Britain would be achievable. He was so certain in his words that many people become patriots and advocates for the war. Colonists believed that they could finally rise up against tyranny and overthrow it. Paine called for an end to the traditional political order. He wrote that America would soon be independent if the colonists rebelled against current establishments. He insulted King George III, calling him a “hardened, sullen tempered Pharaoh of England.” (Paine, 1776, p. 16). Paine did not believe in inherited positions of power. Rulers should be chosen by the people and should not be hereditary. “Of more worth is one honest man to society and in the sight of God, than all the crowned ruffians that ever lived.” (Paine, 1776, p. 10). Which means, one honest leader is worth more than all kings who have ever lived. He attacked Britain’s corrupt government and reminded colonists of the Stamp Act and unfair taxes placed upon them. “A government of our own is our natural right,” wrote Paine. (Paine, 1776, p. 19). The thirteen colonies must fight for their independence. Some colonists were nervous to be independent entities but Paine was confident that the colonies were more than capable on their own with all of their natural resources and growing population to sustain themselves. Common Sense was a huge success and sold over 120,000 copies within months.
Paine’s arguments were clear and strong. Colonists were inspired by his words and continued to fight for freedom. There were many other similar pamphlets and newspapers that spread information across the colonies but Common Sense was the most well known and sold the most copies. Common Sense was such a large success because it was written for the common people. It was relatable and very well received among the people. Congress approved The Declaration of Independence months later and Common Sense is believed to have greatly influenced that.
- Paine, Thomas, 1737-1809. (1975). Thomas Paine’s Common sense : the call to
- independence. Woodbury, N.Y. :Barron’s Educational Series, inc.,