Common Sense is the timeless classic that inspired the Thirteen Colonies to fight for and declare their independence from Great Britain in the summer of 1776. Written by famed political theorist Thomas Paine, this pamphlet boldly challenged the authority of the British government and the royal monarchy to rule over the American colonists.
By using plain language and a reasoned style, Paine chose to forego the philosophical and Latin references made popular by the Enlightenment era writers. As a result, Paine united average citizens and political leaders behind the central idea of independence and transformed the tenor of the colonists’ argument against the British. As the best-selling American title of all time, Common Sense has been eloquently described by historian Gordon S. Wood as “the most incendiary and popular pamphlet of the entire revolutionary era.”
Thomas Paine (1737–1809) was an English-American political activist, philosopher, and revolutionary. As one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, he authored the most influential pamphlets at the start of the American Revolution and inspired the colonists to declare independence from Great Britain in 1776. His ideas reflected Enlightenment-era rhetoric of transnational human rights and the separation of church and state. He has been called a corset-maker by trade, a journalist by profession, and a propagandist by inclination.