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Among the most influential authors and reformers of his age, Thomas Paine (1737–1809) was born in England but went on to play an important role in both the American and French Revolutions. In 1774, he emigrated to America where, for a time, he helped to edit the Pennsylvania Magazine. On January 10, 1776, he published his pamphlet Common Sense, a persuasive argument for the colonies' political and economic separation from Britain.

Common Sense cites the evils of monarchy, accuses the British government of inflicting economic and social injustices upon the colonies, and points to the absurdity of an island attempting to rule a continent. Credited by George Washington as having changed the minds of many of his countrymen, the document sold over 500,000 copies within a few months.

Today, Common Sense remains a landmark document in the struggle for freedom, distinguished not only by Paine's ideas but also by its clear and passionate presentation. Designed to ignite public opinion against autocratic rule, the pamphlet offered a careful balance between imagination and judgment, and appropriate language and expression to fit the subject. It immediately found a receptive audience, heartened Washington's despondent army, and foreshadowed much of the phrasing and substance of the Declaration of Independence.

104 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1776

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About the author

Thomas Paine

1,235 books1,382 followers
Thomas Paine was an English-American political activist, author, political theorist and revolutionary. As the author of two highly influential pamphlets at the start of the American Revolution, he inspired the Patriots in 1776 to declare independence from Britain. His ideas reflected Enlightenment-era rhetoric of transnational human rights. He has been called "a corset maker by trade, a journalist by profession, and a propagandist by inclination".

Born in Thetford, England, in the county of Norfolk, Paine emigrated to the British American colonies in 1774 with the help of Benjamin Franklin, arriving just in time to participate in the American Revolution. His principal contributions were the powerful, widely read pamphlet Common Sense (1776), the all-time best-selling American book that advocated colonial America's independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain, and The American Crisis (1776–83), a pro-revolutionary pamphlet series. Common Sense was so influential that John Adams said, "Without the pen of the author of Common Sense, the sword of Washington would have been raised in vain."

Paine lived in France for most of the 1790s, becoming deeply involved in the French Revolution. He wrote the Rights of Man (1791), in part a defence of the French Revolution against its critics. His attacks on British writer Edmund Burke led to a trial and conviction in absentia in 1792 for the crime of seditious libel. In 1792, despite not being able to speak French, he was elected to the French National Convention. The Girondists regarded him as an ally. Consequently, the Montagnards, especially Robespierre, regarded him as an enemy.

In December 1793, he was arrested and imprisoned in Paris, then released in 1794. He became notorious because of his pamphlet The Age of Reason (1793–94), in which he advocated deism, promoted reason and freethinking, and argued against institutionalized religion in general and Christian doctrine in particular. He also wrote the pamphlet Agrarian Justice (1795), discussing the origins of property, and introduced the concept of a guaranteed minimum income. In 1802, he returned to America where he died on June 8, 1809. Only six people attended his funeral as he had been ostracized for his ridicule of Christianity.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,094 reviews
Profile Image for Angela Blount.
Author 5 books671 followers
October 25, 2016

"Time makes more converts than reason." – Thomas Paine

And with that early quote, this reader steadily became enthralled with a founding father. I sincerely wish this novella-sized essay had been required reading while I was still in high school—or at any point in my education, for that matter.

(Okay, if I'm being honest, my teenage self wanted history explained something like this...)

But seriously... the read I thought was going to be a necessary slog turned out to be not only insightful, but genuinely entertaining. Laden with passionate wisdom, scathing wit, and intellectual wherewithal, it's little wonder this renowned 'pamphlet' became the rallying cry for American independence from Britain. Paine was as bold as he was brilliant. In the context of his time period, it's fascinating to realize he was committing treason by laying out this multi-layered argument calling for revolution. And he did so without apology.

(In fact, there were numerous points where one can't help but suppose Paine was offering the British monarchy the literary equivalent of his middle finger.)

* “Male and female are distinctions of nature, good and bad the distinctions of heaven; but how a race of men came into the world so exalted above the rest, and distinguished like some new species, is worth enquiring into, and whether they are the means of happiness or misery.”

* “Government by kings was first introduced into the world by the Heathens, from whom the children of Israel copied the custom. It was the most prosperous invention of the Devil ever set on foot for the promotion of idolatry. The Heathens paid divine honors to their deceased kings, and the christian world hath improved on the plan by doing the same to their living ones. How impious is the title of sacred majesty applied to a worm, who in the midst of splendor is crumbling to dust!”

* “One of the strongest NATURAL proofs of the folly of hereditary right in kings, is, that nature disapproves it, otherwise, she would not so frequently turn it into ridicule by giving mankind an ASS FOR A LION.” (emphasis is mine.)

Oooooh, snap!

* “Men who look upon themselves born to reign, and others to obey, soon grow insolent; selected from the rest of mankind their minds are early poisoned by importance; and the world they act in differs so materially from the world at large, that they have but little opportunity of knowing its true interests, and when they succeed to the government are frequently the most ignorant and unfit of any throughout the dominions.”

* “In short, monarchy and succession have laid (not this or that kingdom only) but the world in blood and ashes. Tis a form of government which the word of God bears testimony against, and blood will attend it.”

* “Of more worth is one honest man to society and the sight of God, than all the crowned ruffians that ever lived.”

This is pretty much what he was getting at, in a nutshell:

I was also somewhat surprised to find that a noteworthy chunk of Paine's reasoning came out of a solid contextual grasp of scripture, along with a propensity for calling out those who'd twisted or withheld it for their own purposes.

* “As exalting one man so greatly above the rest cannot be justified on the equal rights of nature, so neither can it be defended on the authority of scripture; for the will of the Almighty, as declared by Gideon and the prophet Samuel, expressly disapproves of government by kings.”

* “That the Almighty hath here entered his protest against monarchical government is true, or the scripture is false. And a man hath good reason to believe that there is as much king-craft, as priest-craft, in withholding the scripture from the public in Popish countries. For monarchy in every instance is the Popery of government.”


Outspoken political revolutionary. Champion of equality. Solicitor of common sense. Thomas Paine is a true national treasure—an intrepid man whose tongue be both silver and sharp.

Okay...so, it's possible I've developed a small crush on a guy who died 200 years ago. >.>

I only regret that I didn't get to this piece of work sooner. It's put me in a mood to brush up on American History. :)
Profile Image for Kevin.
493 reviews82 followers
March 8, 2023
“A pamphlet called ‘Commonsense’ makes a great noise. One of the vilest things that ever was published to the world. Full of false representations, lies, calumny, and treason, whose principles are to subvert all Kingly Governments and erect an Independent Republic.” ~Nicholas Cresswell

One could argue that without Thomas Paine’s Common Sense of January 1776, there would be no American Declaration of Independence of July 1776. True there was discontent and animosity between England and Colonial America but, prior to Paine’s polemic, the prevailing sentiment was weighted toward reconciliation, not rebellion.

“Have you read the pamphlet ‘Common Sense?’ I never saw such a masterful performance... In short, I own myself convinced, by the arguments, of the necessity of separation.” ~General Charles Lee

Paine himself was originally a British loyalist, but the battles of Lexington and Concord* (April 1775) changed his mind.

“No man was a warmer wisher for reconciliation than myself, before the fatal nineteenth of April 1775, but the moment the event of that day was made known, I rejected the hardened, sullen tempered Pharaoh of England for ever; and disdain the wretch, that with the pretended title of FATHER OF HIS PEOPLE can unfeelingly hear of their slaughter, and composedly sleep with their blood upon his soul.” (pg 48)

Say what you will, Paine was a masterful wordsmith. The simple eloquence and ethical reasoning of Common Sense (which, by the way, he published anonymously) helped transform the collective conscience of the colonies. If ever there was required reading of early American history, this is it.

“Of Common Sense it can be said, without any risk of cliché, that it was a catalyst that altered the course of history.” ~Christopher Hitchens

*NOTE: The Battles of Lexington and Concord were considered a major military victory for King George III and his soldiers. Many colonial minutemen were killed, making it clear that any behavior that was deemed contrary to the King’s interest would not be tolerated.
Profile Image for Michael O'Brien.
307 reviews82 followers
August 11, 2020
One of the most important works from any writer during the American War for Independence. During the darkest days of the struggle, Gen. George Washington reportedly had Paine's work read to his troops to inspire them to hold on during the months of squalor, danger, cold, and deprivation. I dare say that Paine's works like this one led to America's ultimate victory over the Empire seeking its reconquest.
Profile Image for Mia.
332 reviews202 followers
December 19, 2020
12/19/20: This review continues to be a source of great annoyance. Since I can’t mute the comment section, I’ll just put a little message here: don’t comment. I don’t read the comments anymore and I don’t care what you have to say. I don’t want to discuss this silly non-review I wrote when I was 16; I haven’t thought about this particular piece of literature in years. If you’re so terribly offended that a stranger on the internet dislikes a pamphlet written 244 years ago, please consider doing the following: take a deep breath, step away from your computer, go for a walk, reevaluate your life choices, and, failing all that, jump off a cliff.

Profile Image for Sara.
Author 1 book486 followers
October 4, 2021
I feel a bit ashamed that this is the first time that I have read Common Sense in its entirety. It is a piece of American history that deserves our attention and respect. It is easy to see why it affected people of its time in the way that it did, as it is clearly and simply written and sets forth in undeniable logic the issues in question at the time.

Masterfully titled, Paine’s points do indeed seem to be common sense. I was particularly struck by his deft destruction of the divine right of kings and the portion of the pamphlet that dealt with the construction of a navy. I cannot believe that, had I been a citizen of this time, I would have hesitated to grasp his logic and embrace the ideas he put forth.

He is often credited with having a huge influence on the decision that was taken by many to risk everything in order to sever ties with George III and win independence from English rule. While his writing was passionate, his thoughts were solid and did not smack of any unbridled dislike of the English as much as a thoughtful study of the problem and an almost unavoidable conclusion.

One fact that I was surprised by, and did not remember ever having come across in any history class, was that he had only been in America for two years prior to writing this treatise extolling separation. I wonder what the more established “founding fathers” thought of that, since many had already been here for generations.

I think you have to give this 5✯'s for its historical value, its impact, and its writing style.
Profile Image for Iris P.
171 reviews205 followers
July 5, 2015

In observance of Independence Day I decided to read something to help me widen my knowledge on the history of the American Revolution.

Common Sense is 48 page pamphlet written by Thomas Paine, but published anonymously in January 10, 1776. The document which was published right at the beginning of the American Revolution argues in favor of America's independence from Great Britain.

Paine, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, was born in England. He was a political activist, philosopher and revolutionary. Like Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, Paine's ideas were highly influenced by the Enlightenment movement.

239 years after it's publication, I found this short document interesting, remarkably accessible and easy to follow. Pamphlets were sort of like the Blogs of the times, it was a medium widely used to spread ideas and causes from the American Revolution to the Women's Suffrage to the Labor Movement.

Paine estimated that more than 500,000 copies of "Common Sense" had been sold, but many experts believe that this number is wildly inflated especially considering the total size of the population among the 13 Colonies and that there's not way to know for sure how many copies were distributed.

What remains undisputed is the important role this short document had in convincing many colonists that independence from Britain was the best course of action for America. It's considered to this day one of the most influential political documents in American history.

It's said that Washington gave copies of "Common Sense" to his soldier during battles in an effort to ignite their passion for their cause.

Paine stars his argument with a general reflections about government and religion, he later progresses onto the specifics of the colonial situation.

He then moves to discuss the differences between government and society, singing the praises and virtues of society and demonizing government and painting it as a necessary evil.

Paine spends some time criticizing Britain's political system and makes not effort to hide his disdain for the King and the monarchical political system.

On what he calls the "evils of monarchy and hereditary succession" he says:
For all men being originally equals, no one by birth could have a right to set up his own family in perpetual preference to all others for ever, and though himself might deserve some decent degree of honors of his contemporaries, yet his descendants might be far too unworthy to inherit them... Because such an unwise, unjust, unnatural compact might (perhaps) in the next succession put them under the government of a rogue or a fool.

Paine then moves to specifically address why the current time is the best to break from Britain. He believes that the colonies have nothing to gain and everything to lose by remaining under the King's rule. He mentions that by obtaining independence America could then move to continue doing business with Britain but also with the rest of Europe.

He proposes that the best political system for America would be that of a Representative democracy in which every colony has equal representation.

If you are interested in American history and want to learn a little bit about the American political zeitgeist of the times (and I would argue even of the present times), "Common Sense" is a mandatory read.

On a completely separate note (but still keeping with the patriotic theme of this review) here's a shout out to the US Women's Soccer team!

Profile Image for kezzie ☾ (taylor’s version).
400 reviews197 followers
January 9, 2023
✩ 2 stars
[read for high school ‘junior year’ great books class]
“I’ve been reading Common Sense by Thomas Paine, some men say I am intense or I am insane.”
this book is literally just about common sense, sorry but it’s not ground breaking or anything.
maybe this was grounding breaking back in the 1700’’s but not in this day & age
Profile Image for Stephen.
1,516 reviews11k followers
March 23, 2010
4.5 stars. Scathing, derogatory rhetoric directed at the King of England in particular and the British in general designed to arouse the "passions" of the American colonists to embrace the idea of independence from Britian. From that standpoint, very few books in history have been as successful in achieving its goal. Almost 250 years later, this short book (better described as a long essay), still has the power to move you and make you feel the passion of the writer for his subject matter. A truly American writing and one that everyone shouod read from time to time.
Profile Image for Pawarut Jongsirirag.
425 reviews68 followers
October 30, 2020
คนส่วนมากพูดถึงเล่มนี้ ในส่วนของเนื้อหาที่เพนใช้ เเต่ผมว่าจุดเด่นจริงๆของเพน คือวิธีการอธิบาย ที่ใช้หลักการเเละเหตุผลทั่วๆไป ที่ประชาชนเดินดิน ก็สามารถอ่านเข้าใจได้ ไม่จำเป็นต้องหยิบยืมบันไดปีนขึ้นไปอ่าน เพราะส่วนมาก เนื้อหาทำนองนี้ มักมีศัพท์เเสงวิชาการสูงล้ำ เเสดงออกว่าคนเขียนนั้นเป็นผู้มีภูมิปัญญา เเต่ชาวบ้านทั่วไปอ่านไม่รู้เรื่อง งานประเภทนี่จึงดูสวยงามเเต่กรอบ เเต่ไม่ได้สร้างอิมเเพ็คอะไรมากมาย ต่างจาก สามัญสำนึกของเพน โดยสิ้นเชิง

อย่าไปกลัวหน้าหนังสือว่ามันจะอ่านยากนะครับ เพราะใช้เเค่ “สามัญสำนึก” ของเรา ก็อ่านอย่างเข้าใจเเจ่มเเจ้งเเล้ว
Profile Image for Thanawat.
436 reviews
August 12, 2020
- โธมัส เพน -

หนังสือแปลที่มีที่มาจากวารสารยุคก่อนปฏิวัติอเมริกา ที่ยังคงมีความ “อยู่เหนือกาลเวลา” ในเรื่องหลักการ เมื่ออ่านดูแล้วจะเข้าใจเลยว่าทำไม “สามัญสำนึก” จึงเป็นหนึ่งในชุดเอกสารที่เบิกเนตรให้เกิดปรากฏการณ์ตาสว่างของเหล่า “สามัญชน” จนเกิดการปฏิวัติอเมริกา และแน่นอนว่าสิ่งที่อเมริกาพยายามยึดถือเป็นอุดมการณ์หลักของชาติก็สามารถค้นหาได้จากหนังสือเล่มนี้

โอเคล่ะ หลายๆ อย่างในหนังสือมันดูธรรมดามากในสายตาของคนยุคปัจจุบัน แต่อย่าลืมว่าเพน เขียนหนังสือเล่มนี้ในบริบทที่อเมริกาเป็นอาณานิคมของอังกฤษ มีประมุขเป็นกษัตริย์แห่งอังกฤษ และแน่นอนว่าการต���อต้านมันมีสถานะกบฏ


น่าทึ่งมากที่ความคิดของเสรีชนที่ไม่ได้มีใจเป็นทาสอย่าง โธมัส เพน สามารถปลุกเร้าให้เกิดการปฏิวัติที่เป็นมากกว่าการเปลี่ยนแปลงราชวงศ์หรือผู้ปกครองได้อย่างยั่งยืน

ที่ว่ายั่งยืนคืออเมริกาไม่ได้กลับไปหาระบอบกษัตริย์หรือระบอบอาณานิคมอีกเลยในสายธารประวัติศาสตร์หลังปฏิวัติ ซึ่งนั่นน่าจะพิสูจน์ว่าจิตวิญญาณเสรีชนของคนอย่างเพนมันฝังลึกในความเป็นอเมริกันจริงๆ

เพียงใช้สามัญสำนึก คุณก็จะตาสว่าง


เมื่ออ่านรอบที่สองยิ่งทำให้เห็นพลังของคนสามัญ common people ในการใช้สามัญสำนึก common sense มาต่อสู้กับอำนาจนำของระบอบกษัตริย์ที่สืบทอดกันมาโดยปราศจากการตั้งคำถาม หรือไม่มีใครกล้าหาญมากพอที่จะป่าวประกาศถามในที่สาธารณะ
ณ วันที่ต้นฉบับ common sense ถูกตีพิมพ์ ผมจินตนาการไม่ออกเลยว่าสังคมโบราณจะตอบสนองต่อหนังสือเล่มนี้อย่างไร กษัตริย์อังกฤษจะใช้อำนาจของตนบนแผ่นดินสหรัฐอย่างไรเมื่อได้อ่านหนังสือเล่มนี้ และที่ common people นั่นแหละ จะมี common sense อย่างไร
แต่ที่แน่ๆ เมื่อคุณหว่านเมล็ดพันธุ์ความคิดลงไปแล้ว ไม่มีทางเลยที่จะห้ามความคิดไม่ให้เจริญเติบโตได้
ผลลัพธ์ที่เราเห็นกันคือความเข้มแข็งทางการเมืองของ common people ในดินแดนสหรัฐ ที่มันหยั่งรากลึก และงอกงามมาถึงปัจจุบัน
Profile Image for Paula W.
355 reviews70 followers
February 3, 2019
Most Americans have at least a general knowledge of the events that sparked the American Revolution. Long story short (and super simplified) — British Parliament passed the Tea Act in mid 1773 allowing a British tea company to sell basically untaxed tea from China in the colonies while the colonists were still being taxed and therefore forced to sell higher priced tea. This set off an intense debate about the colonists being taxed without representation, culminating in the Boston Tea Party. As punishment, Parliament did away with Massachusetts’s self-governing rights and shut down Boston commerce in 1774. This ignited protests and acts of defiance throughout the 13 colonies, and the war officially started in April 1775 when the British came by sea, famously heralded throughout the colonies by Paul Revere.

When the first edition of Common Sense was published in January 1776, the Seige of Boston was still ongoing. Many people were outraged by British actions but wanted a reconciliation while many other colonists were deeply religious and believed wholeheartedly in the divinity of the monarchy. Thomas Paine wrote this pamphlet (a rather large pamphlet) to address every single argument against declaring independence, from the absurdity of heredity succession to the unvarnished truth of the current state of affairs in the colonies. He outlined how presidential and congressional elections might work. He described the advantages of their location, natural resources, and acquired resources. He wrapped up with a condemnation on the morals, intelligence, and manhood of anyone who thought independence was a bad idea.

It’s brilliantly written, even if you don’t agree with the content. Complex concepts are thrown out and then explained with metaphors and stories so that the colonists could understand. Much of it is written via the style of a Southern Baptist fire-and-brimstone Sunday church sermon. Before long, everyone who was anyone, and everyone who was no one, were reading this piece, and not just in the colonies. It became a bit of an international success, too.

And it was exactly what was needed at exactly the right time. Common Sense sent the colonists into a frenzy and was the primary cause of the overwhelming support for a Declaration of Independence that would be written and signed just a few months later. As an American, I can say that some days even I am unsure whether this “American experiment” has been successful on the whole (some decades have been better than others, right?), but hopefully we are still a work in progress. We have Thomas Paine to thank for giving us a shot.
Profile Image for Patrick Peterson.
461 reviews187 followers
January 5, 2022
14 Feb. 2018
I read this in college in the mid-70s - excellent, and also listened to the audio book version a few years ago.

Great little statement about why tyranny must be stopped.
Lots of fascinating English and Roman history that will probably be new to modern readers, yet is very important for understanding how the United States came to be.

As folks who know their American history know, this book helped along the American Revolution greatly. It was by far the best read book of the time, except for the bible, of course. It sold possibly a million copies, in the colonies, where the typical estimate of total population was 2.5 million souls at the time. To put that in perspective, since the population of the US today is about 330 million, that would mean this little philosophical/historical/ideological book would sell about 160 million copies!!! What book today comes anywhere close to that?

BTW, I recommend reading this book with the current CRT (Critical Racism Theory) in mind. There is a reason the people who think racism is pervasive and crucial in America now never site such founding documents as this book.

"These are the times that try men's souls."
You've heard that before, I'll bet.
Those are the opening words of Paine's far less famous, and less well read, but still very important book, "the Crisis." George Washington thought it so important and well done that he had it read out loud to his troops wintering in freezing Valley Forge, PA, trying to keep their spirits up.
Profile Image for Els.
283 reviews2 followers
March 14, 2018
That was a wonderful ride.

And yes, I tried to resist using this gif. (especially since the line itself isn't historically accurate- Thomas Paine published his world-changing pamphlet anonymously.) Desperately. But I couldn't help it.

"a corset maker by trade, a journalist by profession, and a propagandist by inclination!"

Doesn't he just look like the sort who would spin around in his non-existent swivel chair, arms in the air, squealing "BUUURRRRRNNNNN!!!!!" whenever he wrote a snarky, hard-hitting line? I think so too. Could he have been a serious human, with the weight of a faultily-governed world on his shoulders? Yes. Do I choose to picture him squealing about snark anyway? Yes.

The truth is, whether he meant to or not, Paine came across as glorious sass. I was listening to this on audio while cleaning up dead dinosaurs, of course, but I may have laughed aloud on multiple occasions. Don't ask when you finally visit my museum and see the gash across a priceless specimen. It's much easier to blame a long-dead "inclined propagandist" and walk past. Please.

So here's a nice little summary... aka a review.... aka why I started typing in this little box anyway. Here goes.

I. Of the Origin and Design of Government in General, With Concise Remarks on the English Constitution
"Puh-lease guys. have you even read the British Constitution? You're smoked. And Monarchy's what's burning. *cue spin burn session* Only reason I can be 'concise' is because it's COMMON SENSE *wink wink* and when government ain't doing its job, it's time for us to start a war."-- quotes Thomas Paine would aggressively disown, pt. 1

Ahem. Actually, he makes perfect sense and writes everything out logically. But- pretty sure that's what he would have said if it was allowed.

II. Of Monarchy and Hereditary Succession

"Yes fine I'll continue to be serious. THE BIBLE SAYS SO. There. Satisfied now, pacifists? No? Well, we must work on this. *prepares lengthy thesis on the true anti-monarchial substance of the Old Testament* *sweetly honeys it down your throat* like it? Ehem? Ah, yes, it has a... wait for it... BUUUUURRRRRNNN!!!!!!!!"-- quotes Thomas Paine would aggressively disown, pt. 2

"In England, a king hath little more to do than to make war and give away places; which in plain terms, is to impoverish the nation and set it together by the ears. A pretty business indeed for a man to be allowed eight hundred thousand sterling a year for, and worshipped into the bargain! Of more worth is one honest man to society and in the sight of God, than all the crowned ruffians that ever lived."-- real quotes by Thomas Paine, only used 'cause this one happened to show up under his name. Your loyal biographer aka myself is not going to waste time looking up what I actually read when I could be grossly misrepresenting an important historical figure.

A section on why hereditary succession makes no sense, with the aforementioned Old Testament thesis, along with the refutation of "it prevents civil wars," by, of course, harping incredulously on the Wars of the Roses and the other 832 civil wars England's been through.

III. Thoughts on the Present State of American Affairs

"SERIOUSLY, Y'ALL! HAVE YOU LOOKED AT THE FACT THAT WE'RE ALREADY FIGHTING THE BRITISH??? What's the point to shed blood over one tax law when we could just get our independence while we're at it? It'll be a quick and painless transition and your grandchildren will thank you. Or curse you, if you don't stop and LISTEN TO ME!!! Also, I have some great ideas for the American government and constitution."-- quotes Thomas Paine would aggressively disown, pt. 3

*muffled thanks from great-great-great-something-grandchildren*
Yes, there was no better time to separate from Britain. It was an inevitable break, as Paine mentions in pt. II, and at a later date it could have only been messier- and leaving us with a worse government. yes, it's possible.

IV. On the Present Ability of America, With Some Miscellaneous Reflections

"WOULD YA STOP TALKING ABOUT THE NAVY???? Thanks. Guess who built Britain's navy? Yes, us. There's about enough forest left over there for two ships. It's a big reason they colonized here in the first place, nincompoops. We are currently exporting sailcloth and timber and we have the largest ship factories in the world! STAHP GIVING THE BRITISH OUR NAVY AND LET US USE IT!!! But seriously, remind me why we even need a big navy anyway? Aren't the British kinda at war with thirty other countries right now? They CAN'T send their whole navy at us."-- quotes Thomas Paine would aggressively disown, pt. 4

Basically, we are, in fact, able to fight- as evidenced by the fact that we are already fighting- so let's actually fight for a reason? Peoples? Come on.

So there you have it! The United States of America: a birthing guide. As a historically significant document, it ranks with the Declaration of Independence; as a well-reasoned thesis, it trumps every college paper I've had the misfortune to read; as a lovely bit of early American sass... well, it's up to you to decide. Go read it.
Profile Image for Kimber.
205 reviews57 followers
July 4, 2020
Still rings true.....
"This is our situation, and who will know it. By perseverance and fortitude we have the prospect of a glorious issue;by cowardice and submission, the sad choice of a variety of evils-a ravaged country-a depopulated city-habitations without safety, and slavery without hope."

R.I.P to one of our great Americans, Thomas Paine.
Profile Image for Daniel.
107 reviews22 followers
February 14, 2011
Something everyone should read, study and learn to understand. This pamphlet made a new world. We need such men to stand and inspire us to do the same once again.
Profile Image for Mohammad Ali Shamekhi.
1,096 reviews237 followers
October 15, 2015

به نظرم کتابی است خواندی به دلیل آنکه می توان امتداد تفکر پین در این رساله را در سرمایه داری بعدی آمریکا مشاهده کرد. هرچند خوشبینی های مذهبی و اقتصادی پین - مبنی بر دولت حداقلی و آزادی تجارت و ... - در عین اینکه نشانگر نیات انسان دوستانه ی پین هستند، برای ما امروزیان جای اما و اگرهای بسیار دارند

نسخه ی انگلیسی اسکن شده اما متاسفانه ناکامل این کتاب را می توانید از اینجا و نسخه ی تایپ شده ی کاملش را از اینجا بیابید

پین این رساله را در سال های 1775 و 1776 یعنی در بحبحه ی دعواها و مبارزه ها برای استقلال آمریکا نوشته است. او در فصل نخست کتاب به نظام سلطنتی انگلستان و مجلس اعیان می تازد و آن را ساختاری خلاف عقل می شمارد. سپس در فصل دوم در ادامه ی حمله به سلطنت، به عهد عتیق متوسل می شود و نشان می دهد که خداوند درخواست یهودیان برای معین کردی شاهی برایشان از طرف خدا را گناه شمرده است. همچنین در این فصل به موروثی بودن سلطنت حمله می کند و مدام بر این شعار مهم تأکید می کند که فضیلت موروثی نیست. در فصل سوم به وضعیت فعلی آمریکا می پردازد و تصریح می کند که وضعیت فعلی بهترین زمان برای اعلام استقلال است. همچنین او تأکید می کند که استقلال آمریکا نه فقط امری محلی بلکه آغازگر دوران تازه ای در تاریخ بشریت است که از زمان طوفان نوح سابقه نداشته است - دورانی که آزادی مکانی برای تبلور خود می یابد. در فصل چهارم پین اشاراتی متفرقه به توانایی های آمریکا و ضرورت اتکای به خود مطرح می کند

ضمیمه ی کتاب در چاپ نخست وجود نداشت و بعد از پخش سخنان ناامید کننده ی پادشاه انگلستان در آمریکا - که مخالفان را جمعی شورشی خوانده بود - به نگارش درآمد. او در این ضمیمه بر حقانیت دوباره ی حرف های خود تأکید می کند و بر اینکه نباید زمان مناسب را از دست داد، اصرار می ورزد. پین خود در خانواده ای از نحله ی کویکر زاده شده بود - فرقه ای که به نبرد و خونریزی باور نداشت و در قبال سیاست مثل مرجعه در فرهنگ اسلامی بود ( یعنی امور را به خدا می سپرد و بشر را به عدم دخالت فرامی خواند ). در ضمیمه ی دوم کتاب که نامه به کویکرها است او به این کناه گیری می تازد و این باور را که رفت و آمد شاهان به خواست خدا است، پس می زند

دو افزوده ی ایزاک کرامینگ در معرفی احوال پین و شرایط آن دوران هم خواندنی است

برای من بیش از همه آن بخش تفسیر عهد عتیق جالب و نو بود

در مورد ترجمه باید هم به وجود سستی هایی در آن اذعان کرد و هم به وجود مزیت هایی. سستی های ترجمه هرچند بارز نیستند اما گاه به گاه رخ می نمایانند - یک مثال خاصش این است که مترجم ساختارهای شرطی پیچیده تر را درست تشخیص نداده است - مثلا وقتی "هد" اول یا وسط جمله آمده و جمله ی فرضی و غیرواقعی را به عنوان شرط مطرح می کند ( طبیعتا وفتی شرط درست فهمیده نشده جواب شرط ها به جای آنکه مشروط ترجمه شوند اخباری ترجمه شده اند ). اما از طرف دیگر زبان ترجمه به نظرم جالب است. عموما حس من آن است که با متنی فارسی روبرویم و نه متنی ترجمه شده. استفاده از اصطلاحات فارسی و عبارات بومی برای معادل های انگلیسی چیزی بود که من در متن ترجمه می پسندیدم
Profile Image for Jan Priddy.
720 reviews136 followers
January 4, 2021
This is the booklet that pushed us to become a free country. "In proportion to the population of the colonies at that time (2.5 million), it had the largest sale and circulation of any book published in American history." I read it in Honors Sophomore World History almost forty years ago, but no one seems to teach it anymore. Except I do. [Or I did until I retired from teaching.]

"When Abraham Lincoln was 26 years old in 1835, he wrote a defense of Paine's deism; a political associate, Samuel Hill, burned it to save Lincoln's political career. Historian Roy Basler, the editor of Lincoln's papers, said Paine had a strong influence on Lincoln's style:
"No other writer of the eighteenth century, with the exception of Jefferson, parallels more closely the temper or gist of Lincoln's later thought. In style, Paine above all others affords the variety of eloquence which, chastened and adapted to Lincoln's own mood, is revealed in Lincoln's formal writings."

It is a powerful work of persuasion and propaganda. Paine argues hard (anonymously), panders to his mostly-Protestant audience, and ultimately convinces a group of colonies to think of themselves as a nation, an independent republic, a people entitled to freedom from inherited monarchy by their natural right to liberty. It is an astounding counterargument to everything Europe stood for at that time, setting reason against the divine right of kings. It is a challenge today to understand how revolutionary this was in his day—this notion that no one should be born to privilege.

It should also be noted that just before an American brought him to the so-called "new world" Paine was in prison for promoting the rights of Jews as people in a nation led by a monarch who was (and is) the head of the official Church. Both the free-thinker Thomas Jefferson and the Baptists of the South opposed establishment of an official religion because they wanted to protect their specific belief system against government interference and the imposition of an official religion. The language may be awkward to read today, but this is still essential reading for anyone interested in the principles upon which our nation was founded..
Profile Image for Yara (The Narratologist).
158 reviews83 followers
April 19, 2016
I’ve been reading “Common Sense” by Thomas Paine
So men say that I’m intense or I’m insane
You want a revolution? I want a revelation!
So listen to my declaration:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident
that all men are created equal,”
And when I meet Thomas Jefferson
Imma compel him to include women in the sequel!

Yes, I did pick up this pamphlet because I am obsessed with the musical Hamilton (what can I say, I can relate to men thinking that you're intense and/or insane), and I am so glad that I did. Common Sense is a remarkable read that holds up incredibly well, and worth reading for anyone interested in history or political philosophy. Who’d have thought that an eighteenth-century political essay would make me laugh out loud multiple times?

Read More
Profile Image for Moonkiszt.
2,041 reviews212 followers
March 10, 2020
Having never read this oft-mentioned founding document, I dove in.

It took awhile to acclimatize, to the language, to gather facts and fictions about the era and population Thomas Paine addresses in his famous work, but I got the gist of it. I found inspiration and wisdom in it. I recognized so many phrases and sentiments that rang true, although I am not of his time. It is clear I have been carefully taught these things my entire life. That stuns me, a little, waving in my free brain thoughts tagged by nervous flags that of these I should take note, should consider, should ponder on that . . . .

Truth or taught. . . ? It resonates within me as truthful and real, so I'm going with that. Thanks for that mighty act of persuasion, Mr. Paine.
Profile Image for M.C..
29 reviews
December 29, 2008
Known to some as a precursor to the Declaration of Independence, Common Sense by Thomas Paine may actually serve as evidence of the blinding effects of fervent patriotism.

Paine masterly grasped the attention of the reader by questioning about the origin of government to stir the desire to question about the evolution of government over time--how government has, over the course of centuries, became what it is. The choice to begin the text with regards to the origin and progress from hence is also effective because it creates a chronological effect. Not to mention, it is wise of Paine to apply to his work the ideas of Enlightenment philosophers such as those of John Locke.

However, Common Sense falls short in the discussion of the facts. Paine downplays the negatives of sovereignty, such as the consequences of becoming in debt and the political and economic issues an independent nation faces on a national scale. Such behavior indicates a fanatic obsession with nationalism and the desire to secure it through secession or other radical means. Though it may seem comical for a mere reader to remark upon the grave subjects of politics and the like, I must protest that the hype for revolution and Paine's vision on the readiness of his America is to an extent dangerous and naive.
Profile Image for Jonfaith.
1,853 reviews1,367 followers
July 6, 2016
One of the strongest natural proofs of the folly of hereditary right in kings, is, that nature disapproves it, otherwise, she would not so frequently turn it into ridicule by giving mankind an ass for a lion.

Unfortunate that the knee-jerk Right has appropriated this polished wit. I can't see how is reconciles with the specks of froth about emails and birth certificates. Baggage eschewed, this remains a powerful pamphlet, a catalyst for defiance. Not as convincing as J.S. Mill, but one rife with images and optimism.
Profile Image for David.
Author 18 books337 followers
July 8, 2015
Like most Americans, I've read the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence, but maybe not all of it recently, and not much of the actual writings of the founding fathers. So this Audible daily deal seemed like a good thing to add to my commute.

Thomas Paine's famous polemic is a quick and easy listen, because that's how he intended it to be - indeed, it was read throughout the colonies, in inns and taverns and meeting houses, to a population that was well-educated for the time but still not that literate by modern standards. It was a bestselling pamphlet, and it's credited with getting the majority of the American colonists "off the fence" on the subject of separating from Britain. Until Paine's pamphlet, most Americans were ambivalent about declaring independence, and even those with grievances against Britain thought that reconciliation was better than separation.

Paine's argument is basically a long sermon against monarchy and absolute rule, and a recounting of all the grievances the American colonists had against England, and why it was ridiculous for a continent to continue to be governed by an island, and how Americans would benefit by making their own way in the world.

It is very much a sermon, and reading some historical background on Common Sense makes it more understandable. Paine deliberately used the language and cadence of a sermon, complete with ample Biblical references, making the (somewhat dubious, in my opinion) argument that the Bible itself does not endorse monarchies. (Paine claims that even King David was only honored as a man, and not a king, but I think he's being a bit selective in his choice of Bible verses there.)

It's important to understand that at the time, educated men writing treatises like this usually used formal rhetorical style, with lots of Latin and Greek phrases, so they'd sound smart and go right over the heads of commoners. Paine deliberately aimed at the common man (and as his language makes clear, he was only talking to men here), wanting his arguments to be accessible to everyone, not just the elites who stood to benefit most from revolution. At the time, this was truly revolutionary and inflammatory, and even some of the founding fathers didn't approve. Yet Common Sense is credited with swaying public opinion in favor of declaring independence.

Paine launches a tirade against Britain and King George, delivering quite a one-sided but effective case for divorce. The pamphlet ends with an epilogue which is a rebuttal to Quaker arguments in favor of peace (i.e., non-revolution), in which Paine basically says, "Stick to your religion and keep your noses out of politics."

Having this read to me made it more enjoyable, as I could imagine Thomas Paine delivering his oratory in person, or some rabble rouser reading it aloud in an alehouse in Philadelphia. An appropriate July 4th listen.
Profile Image for Jean.
1,707 reviews742 followers
December 21, 2016
I read this essay in school many years ago; I have read several books recently that have referred the Pane’s “Common Sense”. So, I thought I would re-read and refresh my memory about the book.

“Common Sense” was published in 1776 and challenged the authority of the British government and monarchy. It was written in plain language for the common person to easily read. It was the first published works to openly ask for independence from Great Britain. Pane says that government’s sole purpose is to protect life, liberty and property and should be judged on the extent it accomplished this goal. Pane states that all men are born equal and tyranny cannot be tolerated.

This is a book that everyone should read and then re-read periodically. Edward Miller does a good job narrating the book.
August 25, 2020


เพนอธิบายได้เดือดมากว่าปัญหาของระบอบดังกล่าวคืออะไร เดือดและมีเหตุผลสมกับหนังสือว่า 'สามัญสำนึก' เหมือนบอกกลายๆ ว่าเรื่องง่ายโคตรๆ แค่นี้ทำไมถึงคิดกันเองไม่ได้ (วะ)

สนุกถึงประมาณกลางเล่ม แต่ช่วงหลังๆ เริ่มไม่ค่อยอินเพราะใส่รายละเอียดถึงสาเหตุที่อเมริกาไม่ควรต้องกลัวหากจะแยกตัวจากอังกฤษ ซึ่งเป็นเรื่องล้าสมัยไปแว้ว

แนะนำครับ อ่านเพลินๆ เลย
Profile Image for Bekhradaa.
140 reviews58 followers
February 14, 2019
عادت دیرینه فکر نکردن درباره نادرستی مطالب، به آنها در سطح ظاهری جنبه درست می دهد... زمان بیش از خرد صاحبان عقیده نو (نوکیش) می آفریند. سواستفاده دیرینه و خشن از قدرت، عموما وسیله ای برای شک کردن به حقانیت آن است
Profile Image for Canon.
636 reviews64 followers
July 4, 2022
“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 have they 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.”

Not unaware that this pamphlet has often been invoked by pundits of the American Right (who valorize themselves as the only common sense patriots) in their anti-government and white nationalist demagoguery, I recalled while rereading it this July 4th Thomas Pynchon’s description of the decline of the Slothrop family from partisans of living freedom to dead oppression, and seemed to see in it a parable of the Republican Party: “in those days [they were] not yet so much involved with paper, and the wholesale slaughtering of trees. They were still for the living green, against the dead white. Later they lost, or traded away, knowledge of which side they'd been on,” (Gravity's Rainbow 272). Insofar as conservative freedom is the liberty to exercise exclusive power over others according to an authoritarian ideology (“Don’t Tread On Me; I Shall Tread On You”), Paine does not belong in their pantheon.
Profile Image for Saeed.
173 reviews53 followers
May 31, 2017
من عاشق این کتاب‌های مانیفیست مانند هستم که نویسنده با لحنی انقلابی و بنیان گرایی شروع می کند به رجز خوانی و سازش ناپذیری

توماس پین مثل کارل مارکس (یا شاید برعکس کارل مارکس مانند توماس پین :د ) رساله ای نوشته است که این بار به جای این که کارگران دنیا را به شورش برانگیزد، مردم آمریکا را به شورش علیه پادشاهی، بریتانیا دعوت می کند، این کتاب هدیه‌ای است برای دوستدارن پادشاهان

در این کتاب کوچک شما جسارت را مشاهده می کنید، جسارتی که منجر به انقلاب آمریکا و استقلال آن از مستعمرگی بریتانیا شد، توماس پین در زمان خود یک رادیکال بوده است و من واقعاً از نوشته هایی که رنگ و بوی شجاعت می دهند خوشم می آید
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