Making Common Sense

Common Sense, is a revolutionary essay penned by

Thomas Paine and published on January 18th or 19th,  1776.

This essay promoted America’s absolute independence of Britain. It followed the natural-rights tenets of the British philosopher John Locke, whose writings had justified independence as the will of the people and rebellion as a device for bringing about just rule by the people.


Although the advice was not original to Paine, Paine’s ardent language and unswerving appeal to the people prepared them for the ideas expressed in the Declaration of Independence. War with the British had been going on sine the Spring of 1775 under way for some nine months before publication of the pamphlet, and the political direction of the Revolution was not yet clear.


However, for many, Common Sense crystallized the aims of what became the American Revolution.

Benjamin Rush, a Philadelphia physician and ardent patriot, encouraged Paine to continue with his work on his essay. After reading a copy of the manuscript Rush conferred with Benjamin Franklin, they suggested a title, and arranged for its printing, anonymously in Philadelphia.

Common Sense was an instantaneous success. Paine estimated that not less than 100,000 copies were run off and boasted that the pamphlet’s popularity was “beyond anything since the invention of printing.”


Dr. Rush remarked that its effect on citizens of the colonies was “sudden and extensive.” The essay was “read by public men, repeated in clubs, spouted in schools.”

In Britain “it is wholly owing to the … people, and not to the constitution of the government, that the crown is not as oppressive … as in Turkey.” The monarchy, Paine asserted, had corrupted virtue, impoverished the nation, weakened the voice of Parliament, and poisoned people’s minds. The “royal brute of Britain” had usurped the

rightful place of law.


Paine argued that the political connection with England was both unnatural and harmful to Americans. Reconciliation would only cause “more calamities. … It is repugnant to reason, to the universal order of things, to all examples from former ages, to suppose that this continent can longer remain subject to any external power.” In short, the welfare of America, as well as its destiny, in Paine’s view, demanded steps toward immediate independence.

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One Comment on “Making Common Sense”

  1. Maximus Says:

    I would like to see a continuation of the topic

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