Common Sense

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Throughout history, some books have changed the world. They have transformed the way we see ourselves—and each other. They have inspired debate, dissent, war and revolution. They have enlightened, outraged, provoked and comforted. They have enriched lives—and destroyed them.

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Published anonymously in 1776, six months before the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Paine’s Common Sense was a radical and impassioned call for America to free itself from British rule and set up an independent republican government. Savagely attacking hereditary kingship and aristocratic institutions, Paine urged a new beginning for his adopted country in which personal freedom and social equality would be upheld and economic and cultural progress encouraged.  His pamphlet was the first to speak directly to a mass audience—it went through fifty-six editions within a year of publication—and its assertive and often caustic style both embodied the democratic spirit he advocated, and converted thousands of citizens to the cause of American independence.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Penguin
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Published on
Aug 28, 2012
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Pages
160
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ISBN
9781101603727
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Language
English
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Genres
History / United States / Revolutionary Period (1775-1800)
Philosophy / Political
Political Science / Political Ideologies / Democracy
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Great part of that order which reigns among mankind is not the effect of government. It has its origin in the principles of society and the natural constitution of man. It existed prior to government, and would exist if the formality of government was abolished. The mutual dependence and reciprocal interest which man has upon man, and all the parts of civilised community upon each other, create that great chain of connection which holds it together. The landholder, the farmer, the manufacturer, the merchant, the tradesman, and every occupation, prospers by the aid which each receives from the other, and from the whole. Common interest regulates their concerns, and forms their law; and the laws which common usage ordains, have a greater influence than the laws of government. In fine, society performs for itself almost everything which is ascribed to government. from Chapter I: Of Society and Civilisation He was the premiere political blogger of his day, a man Thomas Edison called one of the greatest of all Americans, and one todays liberals and progressives still claim as their intellectual forefather. An idealist, a radical, and a master rhetorician, Thomas Paine wrote and lived with a keen sense of urgency and excitement. In this 1791 defense of revolution, he championed the right of an oppressed peopleand in particular the right of the French peopleto rise up to claim their own natural rights from those who would take them away. A spirited denunciation of the aristocracy and of hereditary government, The Rights of Man caused outrage in Great Britain with its call for democratic reforms of the English system, and Paine was convicted in absentia for seditious libel against the Crown.(He was, alas, not available to be hanged.) Everyone who values freedomof speech, of though, of governanceand the ongoing fight required to maintain it must read and appreciate this essential work. Anglo-American political theorist and writer THOMAS PAINE (17371809) was born in England and emigrated to America in 1774, bearing letters of introduction from Benjamin Franklin. He also wrote Common Sense (1776) and The American Crisis (17761783).
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