Published anonymously in 1776, the year of the American Declaration of Independence, Paine's Common Sense became an immediate best-seller, with fifty-six editions printed in that year alone. It was this pamphlet, more than any other factor, which helped to spark off the movement that established the independence of the United States. From his experience of revolutionary politics, Paine drew those principles of fundamental human rights which, he felt, must stand no matter what excesses are committed to obtain them, and which he later formulated in his Rights of Man.
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About the Author
Thomas Paine (1737-1802) was born at Thetford, Norfolk in England, as a son of a Quaker. He immigrated to America in 1774. There he published works criticising the slavery and supporting American independence. He became very popular but returned to England where he became involved in the French Revolution. After that he returned to America, where he died.
Isaac Kramnick is a professor of Government at Cornell University and has edited of The Federalist Papers and The Thomas Paine Reader.
“No writer has exceeded Paine in ease and familiarity of style; in perspicuity of expression, happiness of elucidation, and in simple unassuming language.” —Thomas Jefferson