What did Thomas Paine do to so dramatically affect the morale of the American army?

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corinnedolci eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Thomas Paine was a writer and philosopher living during the American Revolution. His pamphlet Common Sense was the most widely read pamphlet of the era and is credited with galvanizing the average British colonist living in the Americas against the British Crown.

To appreciate Paine's argument, you have to appreciate the complex grievances the colonial elites had with the British government:

-The British were taxing the colonists without allowing them representation in government.

-The British were regulating tariffs, taxing exports, and limiting foreign trade opportunities.

This is complex economic stuff—more complex, perhaps, than the average colonist was willing to go to war for. The central contribution of Common Sense was to distill the revolutionary fervor within the 13 colonies into two simple, unifying ideals:

1) independence from England

2) form a new democratic republic

In so doing, Paine silenced a lot of infighting and disagreement within the colonies on issues such as slavery and the establishment of a national religion. He also created a villain the new nation could rally against: King George. Paine referred to the king as "the Pharaoh of England" and "the Royal Brute of Great Britain." By unifying the common colonist and creating a common enemy, Paine laid a critical paving stone on the road to the American Revolution.