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Thomas Paine's Common Sense

Thomas Paine's political declaration in his tract Common Sense struck a chord with the Americans of his time. The book was so popular that it went through fifty-six editions in the first year. The book was published anonymously in 1776, and the sentiments expressed in this work by Paine helped direct the energies of the rebels and point the way to American independence from England. What Paine did in this small book was to enunciate important principles of individual human rights and the specific right of the people to challenge unjust laws and an unjust government. If this message found a willing audience, it was because the people of the Americas were ready to hear this message rather than because the message itself broke through some reserve or presented something totally new. What Paine did was to gather together many of the intellectual currents of his time, specifically those describing the importance of and effects of natural law and its consequences for government and the relationship of the people to their government. He also presented these ideas in a way that appealed to the self-interest of the people of the Americas and that thus helped them decide what action they should take to implement these ideas in order better to provide for their economic future.

Vernon L. Parrington (1954) takes note of the power of Common Sense and sees its great popularity as flowing "from its direct and skillful appeal to material interests" (p. 335). Paine was joining in a debate that had been ongoing for some time and that had already erupted into the beginnings of war. Isaac Kramnick (in an introduction to Common Sense, 1986) writes: "Americans fought Englishmen on the battlefields of the new world in January 1776, even as, among themselves, they debated the nature and purpose of those battles" (p. 7). The colonists were fighting the British, but they were not certain why they were fighting. There were different factions amo...

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Thomas Paine's Common Sense. (1969, December 31). In LotsofEssays.com. Retrieved 23:14, April 21, 2019, from https://www.lotsofessays.com/viewpaper/1691086.html