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382px-Commonsense

Literary hero, Thomas Paine broke through the British hold on America with his literary talents and challenged the English Constitution which provoked Englishmen to question and overthrow their own government. His masterful piece, Common Sense, was a brilliant use of rhetoric propaganda that persuaded typical educated people in the colonies to use, “common sense” when thinking about government. His work depicted British law as monstrous, overbearing and immoral. His literary deployment of rhetoric was a powerful tactic that inspired a rebellious  America.

With a strong entrance he begins with the title, Common Sense, which refers to the already engrained knowledge of a rational and educated person. Using this logic his objective in his work was to have individuals acquire the understanding of basic facts and principles of government.

He continues with a simplistic style that successfully spreads the message that government should be “simple,” [1] If government is simple than the, “less liable it is to be disordered.”[2]

The rhetoric style Paine uses when he describes the history of the monarchy is nothing more than clear and follows the biblical version of its passage which the reader can certainly relate to and understand. “In short, monarchy and succession have laid but the world in blood and ashes,”[3] hastily describes the power of the monarchy and its destructiveness it can leave on America if not dealt with soon.

Paine questions his readers during many sections and requests their full analysis of the, “present state of America.”[4]  He directly questions individuals about their position with Great Britain, “Bring the doctrine of reconciliation to the touchstone of nature, and then tell me, whether you can hereafter love, honour, and faithfully serve the power that hath carried fire and sword into your land? If you cannot do all of these, then you are only deceiving yourselves and by your delay bringing ruin upon your posterity.”[5]

Paine’s literary work succeeds at bringing together individuals on a common ground of overthrowing the believed tyrannical Kingdom of Great Britain. The successful nature of his work was not just the basic beliefs he felt needed to be reminded, it was his stylistic approach to a literary piece that sold nearly 100,000 copies alone in 1776 and influenced many. Common Sense, was created on the faith of liberty and the aversion of tyranny which made the work the most powerful political work in American History.


[1] Scott Liell, 46 Pages: Thomas Paine, Common Sense, and the Turning Point to Independence (Philadelphia: Running Press, 2003),156

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid, 168.

[4] Ibid, 169.

[5] Ibid, 177.

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