Common Sense: Addressed to the Inhabitants of America

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Cosimo, Inc., Jun 1, 2006 - History - 80 pages
27 Reviews
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; for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer. Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence; the palaces of kings are built on the ruins of the bowers of paradise. -from Common Sense It is impossible to overstate influence of Thomas Paine-idealist, radical, and master rhetorician-in the creation of America. With this incendiary pamphlet, published anonymously in early 1776, he gave voice to the discontent that gripped the British colonists in the New World with his cries for small government and personal liberty, and his calls to shrug off the tyranny of Crown led directly to the Declaration of Independence only months later. He was the premiere political "blogger" of his day, a man Thomas Edison called "one of the greatest of all Americans," and one today's liberals and progressives still claim as their intellectual forefather. Everyone who values freedom-of speech, of thought, of governance-and the ongoing fight required to maintain it must read and appreciate this, one of the foundational documents of the United States of America. Also available from Cosimo Classics: Paine's The Age of Reason OF INTEREST TO: students of liberal philosophy, reader of American history AUTHOR BIO: Anglo-American political theorist and writer THOMAS PAINE (1737-1809) was born in England and emigrated to America in 1774, bearing letters of introduction from Benjamin Franklin. He also wrote Rights of Man (1791).
 

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User Review  - melydia - LibraryThing

I'm sure I read excerpts from this in school many years ago. I'd forgotten most of the specifics but the general idea (yay independence, boo monarchy) is pretty plain. I was a little surprised by how ... Read full review

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User Review  - AJBraithwaite - LibraryThing

An interesting glimpse of this fascinating period - the birth of a nation. I've not read much about the American Revolution, but what soon becomes clear from this text is that it really was a war of ... Read full review

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Contents

Section 1
1
Section 2
38
Section 3
50
Section 4
60
Copyright

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Page 1 - Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness ' positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last is a punisher. 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...

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About the author (2006)

Born to parents with Quaker leanings, Thomas Paine grew up amid modest circumstances in the rural environs of Thetford, England. As the recipient of what he termed "a good moral education and a tolerable stock of useful learning," little in Paine's early years seemed to suggest that he would one day rise to a stunning defense of American independence in such passionate and compelling works as Common Sense (1776) and The American Crisis essays (1776-83). Paine's early years were characterized by a constant struggle to remain financially solvent while pursuing a number of nonintellectual activities. Nevertheless, the young Paine read such Enlightenment theorists as Isaac Newton and John Locke and remained dedicated to the idea that education was a lifelong commitment. From 1753 to 1759, Paine worked alternately as a sailor, a staymaker, and a customs officer. Between 1759 and 1772, he married twice. His first wife died within a year of their marriage, and Paine separated amicably from his second wife after a shop they operated together went bankrupt. While these circumstances seemed gloomy, Paine fortuitously made the acquaintance of Benjamin Franklin in London in 1773. Impressed by Paine's self-education, Franklin encouraged the young man to venture to America where he might prosper. Arriving in Philadelphia in 1774, Paine quickly found himself energized by the volatile nature of Revolutionary politics. Working as an editor of Pennsylvania Magazine, Paine found a forum for his passionate radical views. In the years that followed, Paine became increasingly committed to American independence, and to his conviction that the elitist and corrupt government that had ruled over him in England had little business extending its corrosive colonial power to the States. Moved by these beliefs, Paine published Common Sense (1776), a test that proved invaluable in unifying American sentiment against British rule. Later, after joining the fray as a soldier, Paine penned the familiar lines in "The American Crisis": "These are the times that try men's souls." Fifteen years later, Paine wrote his other famous work, Rights of Man (1791). Drawing on his eclectic experiences as a laborer, an international radical politician, and a revolutionary soldier, Paine asserted his Lockeian belief that since God created humans in "one degree only," then rights should be equal for every individual.

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