An Analysis of Common Sense

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As the year 1776 began in the American colonies, tension with King George III’s England was at perhaps an all-time high. Americans were frustrated with the actions of their rulers overseas. Taxes and trade restrictions had been placed on them, and British and mercenary soldiers occupied their towns and cities. There had even been fighting at Lexington, Concord, and Bunker Hill. As America grew, England’s hold on it tightened, and a few voices began speaking of independence. The loudest and most convincing of these belonged to Thomas Paine, born in England and living in Philadelphia. His pamphlet, Common Sense, expressed the argument for American independence in a way no one had before and had a great influence on the Declaration of Independence.

Thomas Paine had only lived in America for two years when he began writing Common Sense, but that was enough for him to witness the oppression of the British. He had been dismissed as a tax collector in England after trying to win his fellow employees a raise in pay, and came to Philadelphia in 1774 with a letter of introduction from Benjamin Franklin, who had heard about his actions. He began writing his pamphlet in September of 1775, encouraged by Dr. Benjamin Rush, a friend who feared the consequences of publishing his own revolutionary essay (Smith 676). Rush warned Paine that Philadelphians were hostile to talk of a breakdown between Americans and the British. Even as the Continental Congress prepared for war, independence was still not talked about publicly. But Paine saw the emotions that had been aroused at Lexington, Concord, and Bunker Hill. He wrote all autumn, into December, periodically consulting with Rush.

The first part of Common Sense addresses ...

... middle of paper ... what it proclaimed as any other man. It was his words that sparked a continent of people with the idea of independence in their hearts. He told them, in a way no one else seemed to be able, that they could, and must, voice these ideas.

Works Consulted

Foner, Eric. "Tom Paine’s Republic." In The American Revolution. Ed. Alfred F. Young.

DeKalb, IL: Northern Illinois University Press, 1976.

Keane, John. Tom Paine: A Political Life. Boston: Little, Brown, & Co., 1995.

Miller, John C. Origins of the American Revolution. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1943.

Paine, Thomas. Common Sense. 1776; rpt. Mineola, NY: Dover Press, 1997.

Smith, Page. A New Age Now Begins. Vol. I. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1976.

Woodward, W.E. Tom Paine: America’s Godfather. New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., 1945.