Published anonymously in 1776, this landmark political pamphlet spread across the colonies more rapidly than any document of its kind ever had before. Its words were read aloud in town squares, its pages affixed to tavern walls. Both a clear-eyed, plainly stated case for separation from Great Britain and a stirring call to action, Common Sense sparked the imagination of a fledgling nation and played a decisive role in the march toward revolution. Thomas Paine’s masterpiece is crucial reading for any student of American history.
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Originally published in two volumes in 1791 and 1792, Paine’s discourse reflected on the French Revolution, and positioned the uprising as an attack against a corrupt governing system, rather than a personal attack on the king himself. As a result of his arguments in favour of revolution and social welfare, Thomas Paine was tried and convicted of seditious libel against the Crown of England, and sentenced, in absentia, to hanging. Resident in France at the time of his British trial, Paine never returned to England.
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“A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason.” ― Thomas Paine, Common Sense
Thomas Paine’s insights in Common Sense were first published in 1776 as an argument for American Independence. Today, this book is a foundational touchstone for American democracy and thought.
Upon publication, Thomas Paine’s modest pamphlet Common Sense shocked and spurred the foundling American colonies of 1776 to action. It demanded freedom from Britain—when even the most fervent patriots were only advocating tax reform. Paine’s daring prose paved the way for the Declaration of Independence and, consequently, the Revolutionary War. For “without the pen of Paine,” as John Adams said, “the sword of Washington would have been wielded in vain.”
Later, his impassioned defense of the French Revolution, Rights of Man, caused a worldwide sensation. Napoleon, for one, claimed to have slept with a copy under his pillow, recommending that “a statue of gold should be erected to [Paine] in every city in the universe.”
Here in one volume, these two complete works are joined with selections from Pain's other major essays, “The Crisis,” “The Age of Reason,” and “Agrarian Justice.”
Includes a Foreword by Jack Fruchtman Jr.
and an Introduction by Sidney Hook
The selfsame humanist and egalitarian views that made Paine a popular figure of the American Revolution brought him into frequent conflict with political authorities. Parts of The Age of Reason were written in a French jail, where Paine was confined for his opposition to the execution of Louis XVI. An atack on revealed religion from the deist point of view — embodied by Paine's credo, "I believe in one God, and no more" — this work undertakes a hitherto unheard-of approach to Bible study. Its critical and objective examination of Old and New Testatments cites nemerous contradictions as evidence against literal interpretations of the text. Well articulated and eminently readable, The Age of Reason is a classic of free thought.