Common Sense: It Wasn’t Just an Article, It Was a Weapon

Today in History: January 9th


Aidan Pollock, Contributor

On January 9, 1776, writer and philosopher Thomas Paine wrote an article called “Common Sense,” which was a pro-American Revolution piece. The pamphlet, originally published anonymously, included logical and sometimes nonsensical arguments for why colonists should revolt against Great Britain. At the time Paine wrote “Common Sense,” most colonists considered themselves to be aggrieved Britons. Paine fundamentally changed the tenor of colonists’ argument with the crown when he wrote the following: “Europe, and not England, is the parent country of America.  This new world hath been the asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and religious liberty from every part of Europe.  Hither they have fled, not from the tender embraces of the mother, but from the cruelty of the monster; and it is so far true of England, that the same tyranny which drove the first emigrants from home, pursues their descendants still.” “Common Sense” also included logical arguments on the economic upsides of seperating from Britain and more basic arguments of, and I am paraphrasing: “Britain is an Island, and America is a Continent, so why should an island rule a continent?”

“Common Sense” may have just been propaganda piece to convert the Loyalists and the undecided to become revolutionaries, it also established a form of national ethics that would cross over into the current age and influence events to follow, including the French Revolution. All in all, this article has been, arguably, one of the most influential articles written during that time period other than the Declaration of Independence.