- Common Sense was written in plain language with and applied contemporary examples that captured the minds of the colonist and united them in demanding for Independence from Britain.
- Common Sense is considered the pretext to the Declaration of Independence and the foundation of the American Republican form of Government.
“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.” – Thomas Paine, 1776
Thomas Paine was a philosopher, political theorist and revolutionist who wrote a modest publication called Common Sense published in 1776 in plain and persuasive language using simple reasoning and examples contemporary to the time that the average American found relatable. Common sense, advocated for the independence from Britain and establishment of a democratic government in the United States, was instrumental in shifting the identity of Americans from thinking of themselves as British colonists to citizens of Country that has a distinct and their unique character from Britain, thus leading to the American Revolution.
Common Sense began by distinguishing between government and society by describing theoretical reflections and then uses those reflections build contrasts in relation to the colonial relationship between America the Crown. Society, according to Paine is all that which by the unity of all is reasonable. The government, on the other hand, is a necessary evil, whose primary objective is to protect the society from its own vices by the protecting life, liberty and property.
Common sense demonstrated the extent to which America was different from Britain and not just an outpost, by asking his readers to consider a scenario in which a group of people are placed on the island, cut off from the rest of society. He notes that the people in the Island will form connections with one another and develop for themselves a set of laws that govern them. Through this, Americans began to see their distinct identity that does not emerge from Britain but from the greater Europe and the new culture and systems that accompany the distinction.
The British system, its Constitution and the heredity Monarch were shown in Common Sense as substandard. He contended that all are born equal, and the distinction between the Crown and the subject is unnatural. Further, Paine traced the origins of the Monarch systems to the Jews in the Old Testament, which angered God by demanding a King. God allowed a King and did not withhold His wrath. Through the preceding, Paine demonstrated the sinful origins of Monarchy systems and also the evils and challenges Britain has faced because of the hereditary system noting that some kings were incompetent, corrupt and selfish and led the country to many troubles including civil wars.
Common Sense also described the ideals of a representative system of government with each of the colonies being equal to one another. The effects of the publication united the people to seek Independence from Britain and not just to be reconciled to the Crown during the period after the restoration and the creation of the Dominion. Further, the publication was widely read, with more than a third of the total population of the 13 colonies and six months later, it became the pretext to the Declaration of Independence. Furthermore, the Republican ideas for the formation of a non-hereditary system of government with equality among the colonies became the foundation of the American Constitution.