Sunday, January 10, 2010

Common Sense: Words That Were Anything But Common

On this day in 1776, Thomas Paine published his enormously influential pamphlet
Common Sense. Paine was an Englishman who emigrated to America in 1774 under the sponsorship of Benjamin Franklin. He had served as an excise officer in England before being fired for leading protests for higher wages.

Once in America, he became involved in the increased hostilities between American and Great Britain, and became an advocate for American independence. In Common Sense, Paine used stirring rhetoric to argue that the American colonies had outgrown the need for England’s domination, and attacked the authority of the British monarchy. He strongly believed that the time had come for American independence. Paine pleaded, “Everything that is right or reasonable pleads for separation. The blood of the slain, the weeping voice of nature cries, ‘tis time to part.” Common Sense was read by many patriots and influenced the authors of the Declaration of Independence. The language of the text itself is particularly notable in understanding its effectiveness and widespread popularity. Paine wrote in language that the average reader could understand, which helped his message reach a wide audience. Common Sense is also notable for being the first work to openly call for American independence from Great Britain.

Common Sense and the other writings that formed Thomas Paine’s American Crisis series (1776-1783) were widely distributed and did much to encourage the patriot cause during the American Revolution.

Want to read Common Sense in its entirety? Check it out here.

[Image via Britannica and arktimes]

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