Thomas Paine's COMMON SENSE first appeared on January 10, 1776, and the stroke of luck it enjoyed upon its appearance could hardly have been calculated to greater effect. The political tract immediately became the moral and intellectual touchstone for American colonists struggling to articulate their case for independence from England. It sold over 120,000 copies within 3 months of its publication.
The United States of America owes its existence in part to the incendiary brilliance of the work. COMMON SENSE challenged the authority of the British government and the royal monarchy and was the first document to openly ask for independence. Paine convincingly argued that the time for debate was over and that it was now time for American colonists to raise arms. In fact, it was Paine's writing style in key part that widened the boundaries of public debate. COMMON SENSE'S arguments were accessible to nearly every colonial reader, empowering most colonists to confront the daunting challenges they faced.
Born in England in 1737, Thomas Paine emigrated the America in 1774, where he helped edit the PENNSYLVANIA MAGAZINE. In January 1776, he published COMMON SENSE, which solidified his reputation in American history, as well as other political and revolutionary works. He died in New York City in 1809.
"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.