Published anonymously in 1776, the year of the American Declaration of Independence, Paine's "Common Sense" became an immediate best-seller, with fifty-six editions printed in that year alone. It was this pamphlet, more than any other factor, which helped to spark off the movement that established the independence of the United States. From his experience of revolutionary politics, Paine drew those principles of fundamental human rights which, he felt, must stand no matter what excesses are committed to obtain them, and which he later formulated in his "Rights of Man".
"These are the times that try men's souls," begins Thomas Paine's first Crisis paper, the impassioned pamphlet that helped ignite the American Revolution. Published in Philadelphia in January of 1776, Common Sense sold 150,000 copies almost immediately. A powerful piece of propaganda, it attacked the idea of a hereditary monarchy, dismissed the chance for reconciliation with England, and outlined the economic benefits of independence while espousing equality of rights among citizens. Paine fanned a flame that was already burning, but many historians argue that his work unified dissenting voices and persuaded patriots that the American Revolution was not only necessary, but an epochal step in world history.