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Making Sense Of 'common Sense'
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Earlier this year I was reading the late Christopher Hitchens book 'Hitch-22.' In this book the name 'Thomas Paine' kept coming up. I have to admit that I was unfamiliar with who Thomas Paine was. After a little Google sleuthing I discovered that Thomas Paine was one of the most important figures in the history of our country.

Paine wrote what is basically a pamphlet that became a rallying point for the Declaration of Independence. Published anonymously in January of 1776, Common Sense was signed "Written by an Englishman." Common Sense presented to Americans during this time the most concise argument for freedom from British rule when many Americans were still undecided. Paine wrote this little pamphlet in a style that the common person could understand.

Common Sense was written in only four sections, outlining each argument for independence, noting the distinction between society and government, explains the origins of monarchies and heredity succession from both a historical and biblical perspective. He argued in such a way that it was clear that monarchies were obsolete and had to go.

Most importantly, Paine laid out in precise detail the disagreement with British rule. He explained in simple terms how ridiculous it was for a small English island to rule a continent. How in the big picture, America was more than just a British colony, made up of people from all over Europe and beyond. How British rule made its actions against America immoral. America, as a British colony would be dragged unnecessarily into British wars.

Paine's 'pamphlet,' was the most popular book of the entire revolutionary era. Paine made political and moral ideas easy to understand for the common man. The book brought Americans together to debate political issues. Disdaining large words and complex phrases, Paine wrote in a concise, simple way that helped make the book accessible to all Americans. Even American who were illiterate could be read the book in public gatherings and become part of the debate.

Despite this, many of the colonists were unsure about whether to declare independence or remain loyal to British rule. Many in fact were leaning towards reconciliation with the King. But the moving words of Thomas Paine eventually moved and inspired the colonists to get off the fence and into a fight for their independence.

Thomas Paine was a very passionate man about what he believed, and his little 'pamphlet' inspired both colonists and eventually led the Founding Fathers to draw up the Declaration of Independence.


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Jo Green  

Interesting article and well written! keep up the good job!

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  about 9 years ago
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