Why was Common Sense important?
Common Sense articulated in clear, lucid prose the reasons why the colonies ought to declare independence from Great Britain. Published in early 1776, Common Sense was written at a time when an increasing number of Americans were beginning to feel that the war with Great Britain had made the idea of continued union with the mother country untenable. Too many people had perished for the war to be about asserting the rights of the colonists as British subjects. It is difficult to measure eighteenth century public opinion, so it is possible that Paine's Common Sense was expressing the general spirit of the times more than persuading an unwilling people to part with Great Britain. Either way, there can be no doubt that Common Sense was a phenomenon from the moment it was first published. Hundreds of thousands of copies were distributed throughout the colonies. The Americans read within its pages a searing critique of Britain and of monarchy in general, an argument for the economic necessity of independence, and a vision for beginning a new nation founded on the principles of liberty and republicanism. With the publication of Common Sense, independence had an eloquent and persuasive spokesman.