“Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one…”
– Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776
Published in 1776, it is said that Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” remains the best selling title in American history in proportion to population. This pamphlet is largely credited with solidifying the support in our fight for independence.
It explains the concepts of the Enlightenment philosophy (the basic idea being that all men are created equal and no man has a right to rule over another), but rather than written in the language of a philosopher like John Locke, which can sometimes be hard to decipher, Paine wrote “Common Sense” for the common man.
In easy to understand terms, in addition to discussing the equality of men and the problems with monarchy, Paine outlined the reasons why it was ludicrous for a small island across the sea to rule over a continent the size of America.
He argued that the American people were not even exclusively from England, but rather were a vast diversity from all over world.
He explained the benefits of independence and started to layout the idea of republican government controlled by the people.
A short, easy to read pamphlet, it was accessible to all, whether well educated or not. It was often read aloud in taverns and other public places. Gen. George Washington also had it read to his troops.
“Common Sense” was responsible for turning the tide of public support for the American Revolution. And it is a big inspiration for The People Are Sovereign Essay Series that I believe is so needed today.
Like “Common Sense”, I attempt to write the essays about the principles of the Constitution and our Republic in a way that is relatively quick and easy to understand.
While I don’t expect you all to take the essays to your local taverns and read them aloud (although that would be hoot if someone wants to post some video of that), I do hope that everyone will pass on the information to your circle of influence. It’s the only way that we will ensure more people are informed on these issues.