On November 30, 1774, the ship London Packet, arrived in the port of Philadelphia. On board was 37-year-old Englishman named Thomas Paine. Paine was not even aware that he had landed in America. He was burning up with a fever and was barely conscious. He had caught the deadly disease typhus,which had already killed several people on board.
I've finally made my publication!
Paine was lucky to be alive, but he was still very ill. Unable to walk, he was carried ashore in a blanket. A local doctor agreed to nurse him back to health.
My name is Dr. Benjamin Rush. I encourage you to write a pamphlet on independence!
I've finally done it!
He had no money and few prospects. But he did have one important asset for his new life: letters from Benjamin Franklin. Paine had met Franklin in London and had impressed him with his sharp mind and his interest in science and politics.
With the help of Franklin's introduction, Paine soon landed a job as the editor of a new magazine. He had already done some writing in England. But it was here that he discovered his true calling as a writer. Paine soon made his publication, Pennsylvania Magazine, the most widely read magazine in the colonies.
One of these readers was Benjamin Rush, a doctor who would later play a key role in the independence struggle. Rush encouraged Paine to write a pamphlet on independence, though he cautioned him not to use that word. They might complain about British rule, but the prospect of separating from Great Britain scared them. It did not scare Paine, though. In October 1775, he began working on the essay he would call Common Sense.
Eventually, however, Paine found a publisher who agreed to print a thousand copies as a pamphlet. It was 46 pages long. The pamphlet did not have Paine's name on the cover, but simply said, “written by an Englishman.” On January 10, 1776, Common Sense appeared in bookstores.