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January 09

Thomas Paine publishes “Common Sense”

On January 9, 1776, writer Thomas Paine published his pamphlet “Common Sense.” It became a best-seller in the colonies, and was highly regarded for its arguments in favor of American independence. The pamphlet played a very significant role in inspiring colonists to join the American Revolution.

“Common Sense” was originally published anonymously. At the time that Paine wrote the pamphlet, most colonists considered themselves Britons. They had grievances, to be sure, but they were still British subjects. Thomas Paine transformed their thinking when he wrote, “Europe, and not England, is the parent country of America. This new world hath been the asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and religious liberty from every part of Europe. ….and it is so far true of England, that the same tyranny which drove the first emigrants from home, pursues their descendants still.”

In the 18th century, writing pamphlets was a popular way to spread ideas. It was the venue of many of the leaders and influencers in the colonies. Alexander Hamilton, for example, wrote pamphlets when he was still a teenager, and became known because of them. Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” appealed to both average citizens and political leaders. It is now considered one of the most influential pamphlets in American History.

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