The Revolutionary War (1775-1783) had already begun when Thomas Paine's fifty-page pamphlet, Common Sense, appeared in January 1776.
Common Sense was published anonymously because of its treasonous content. After its publication, the meaning and purpose of the conflict changed. Before its publication, the war was largely about unfair taxation. After the appearance of Common Sense, independence was the Americans' goal. Common Sense was a best-seller and George Washington noted its significance. Washington said,"Common Sense is working a powerful change in the minds of men."
Common Sense blamed King George III for the war. Before Common Sense, most colonists had held the British Parliament culpable for the escalating struggle. According to Paine, the Crown had abused the colonists and only independence would rectify the situation.
Several arguments for independence were put forth in the pamphlet. One argument made was that tiny England should not rule over a vast continent. Another was that a declaration of independence was necessary to secure foreign support for the war. (Foreign support, particularly that provided by France, would be instrumental in the colonists' eventual victory.) And finally, Paine called for the creation of a democratic republic.
Common Sense gave impetus to the Declaration of Independence in July 1776.