Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine

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  • Let's become independent against England!
  • Yes that's a great idea!
  • We are not useless anymore!
  • We are just useless rocks sitting on a field!
  • Do you have this new pamphlet written by Thomas Paine?
  • Of course! It seems like everybody does.
  • Although Paine's words were powerful, his ideas were not new. Many other colonial leaders, such as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams, had expressed similar thoughts.
  • Maybe the idea of independence isn't a bad one.
  • It seems like common sense now that I think about it.
  •  But Paine was able to put those ideas together in a single, compelling argument that spoke to a mass audience. As Benjamin Rush noted, the ideas that Paine put forth in Common Sense had previously lain “like stones in a field, useless 'til collected and arranged in a building.
  • We love you King George III!
  • We love you mommy England!
  • What happened next was astonishing. The first edition sold out in days. Paine had more copies printed, and those sold out, too. Within a few months, readers had bought more than 120,000 copies of Common Sense. 
  • I don't care! No one will stop me from writing this pamphlet!
  • Thomas Paine many of us colonists are uneasy about being independent from England.
  • What explains this stunning result? Evidently, Paine had touched a nerve. The public was not as resistant to the idea of independence as he and others had feared. Paine's success lay in his ability to present separation as logical and reasonable, as a matter of common sense. 
  • Paine recognized that the main obstacle to independence among colonists was their continued loyalty to the king and crown. So he set out to demolish that loyalty.
  • The idea of independence made many colonists uneasy. 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.
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