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Sense is a pamphlet written by Thomas Paine. It was first
published anonymously on January 10, 1776, during the
American Revolution. Common Sense, signed "Written by an
Englishman", became an immediate success. In relation to the
population of the Colonies at that time, it had the largest
sale and circulation of any book in American history. Common
Sense presented the American colonists with an argument for
freedom from British rule at a time when the question of
independence was still undecided. Paine wrote and reasoned
in a style that common people understood; forgoing the
philosophy and Latin references used by Enlightenment era
writers, Paine structured Common Sense like a sermon and
relied on Biblical references to make his case to the
people. Paine accessed common dissenting Protestant idioms
as a means to present a distinctly American political
identity to peoples who, in the preceding decades, had
become increasingly culturally tied to Britain. Historian
Gordon S. Wood described Common Sense as, "the most
incendiary and popular pamphlet of the entire revolutionary
Thomas Paine began work on Common Sense in late 1775 under
the working title of Plain Truth. With the help of Benjamin
Rush, who suggested the title Common Sense and helped edit
and publish, Paine developed his ideas into a forty-eight
page pamphlet. Paine published Common Sense anonymously
because of its treasonous content. Printed and sold by R.
Bell, Third Street, Philadelphia, it sold as many as 120,000
copies in the first three months, 500,000 in the first year,
and went through twenty-five editions in the first year
alone. Paine donated his royalties from Common Sense to
George Washington's Continental Army, saying:
As my wish was to serve an oppressed people, and assist in a
just and good cause, I conceived that the honor of it would
be promoted by my declining to make even the usual profits
of an author.
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This product was added to our catalog on Friday 16 September, 2011.