Paine's Common Sense and The Declaration of Independence (written by Jefferson) were both written in 1776, and both documents advocate for the colonies' independence from Great Britain. The difference between the documents is that the Declaration of Independence primarily makes a political argument about American independence. The document speaks about the rights of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," which are "unalienable," meaning that the government cannot take them away. While the document briefly refers to trade and taxes, which are in part economic issues, Jefferson's argument is mainly legal and political and is based on the idea of the social contract (the idea that the government must respect the rights of the governed). The style of the document is legalistic and formal.
Paine's Common Sense, which became a bestseller in the colonies, features a broader argument that includes economic and cultural reasons for a break with Great Britain, in addition to legal reasons. For example, he writes, "But admitting that we were all of English descent, what does it amount to? Nothing." He advocates for dismantling the cultural bonds between Britain and America, and he also states that American commerce will make the future country secure and diplomatically sound. His writing includes economic, political, and cultural reasons why the colonies should break away from their mother country, and its style is far more inflammatory and passionate than that in the Declaration of Independence.