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Common Sense

Common Sense

Thomas Paine, 1776

In January 1776 THOMAS PAINE published his fifty-page pamphlet Common Sense. It called for political independence and the establishment of a republican government. The pamphlet created a sensation, as much for its passionate rhetoric as for its political views. It sold more than 500,000 copies within a few months and is credited with creating the political momentum that led to the issuance of the DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE on July 4, 1776.

In Common Sense, Paine turned his vitriol on King George III and the institution of the monarchy, calling the king a "royal brute" and a "crowned ruffian." Insisting that people did not have to live under such a regime, he declared "that in America the law is king."

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