Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Today in American History: "Common Sense" by Thomas Paine is Published - 03/10/1776

Today in American History, "Common Sense" is published by Thomas Paine, March 10, 1776.

Common Sense
"Common Sense" is a pamphlet written by Thomas Paine from 1775-1776.  The pamphlet explained the need for American Independence by exploring the advantages of such an endeavor, while pointing out the oppression of the British Crown.  It was published anonymously on January 10, 1776 right after the American Revolution kicked off, and was an immediate sensation throughout the colonies -- inspiring support for the war effort.  It was then reprinted and published under Paine's name on this day in 1776.  The pamphlet was sold everywhere that sold printed material, and was read aloud in public spaces consistently throughout 1776.  It could be seen as America's first pro-war propaganda piece.  It is known that George Washington read it aloud to his troops in Boston when they had the British surrounded and trapped within the city.

Thomas Paine
While there are many reasons for the popularity of "Common Sense," including it being the right document at the right time in America.  Paine took pains (no pun intended) to write "Common Sense" in a simple, easy-to-read manner, foregoing the popular European classical style of writing.  The style is structured more as-if it were a Sunday morning sermon being given by a preacher standing at a pulpit.  Paine did this because this was something that the Average American Colonist could identify with and absorb naturally.  It also made it easy for people to do just that, stand in front of their peers in taverns and on street corners and "preach" to the crowd... swaying their opinion through Paine's strong words.  He did so by utilizing popular Biblical references and connecting independence with common Protestant beliefs to create a distinct and recognizable American identity.  Its impact motivated Americans to forget their individual situations, and come together as one nation in support of independence. 

When measured by modern standards, and adjusted for population, "Common Sense" remains the best-selling printed material in American history.  It was printed at least once in the Connecticut Courant, but likely more than that in its entirety.  All the royalties from the sales of the pamphlet (at the time) were donated to support Washington's Army.
Thomas Paine's "Common Sense" was called "the most incendiary and popular pamphlet of the entire revolutionary war era" by noted historian Gordon Wood.

Click here to download the "Writings of Thomas Paine: Volume 2" which includes "Common Sense" for free on your Amazon Kindle.

Bruce has worked in educational technology for over 18 years and has implemented several 1:1/BYOD programs.  He also a lifelong baseball fan who has served as a classroom teacher in Computer Science, History and English classes.  Bruce is the author of five books: Sands of TimeTowering Pines Volume One:Room 509The Star of ChristmasPhiladelphia Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel and The Insider's Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel.  Follow Bruce's Novel releases by subscribing to his FREE newsletter!

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