A failure in business, Thomas Paine emigrated from England to America in 1774. In early 1776, he published a pamphlet entitled Common Sense. In this tract, Paine argues that the American colonies ought to part from England and establish their own nation. Paine discusses the origins of society and government, the evils of monarchy and hereditary succession, and the rule of law; his disdain for monarchy is an underlying theme of the work. Paine also emphasizes the urgency of independence; he maintains that the time for reconciliation between the colonies and England has passed and the time for independence is now. The leather bound version of Common Sense (the subject of this review) includes background information and a chronology of the life of Thomas Paine. This book is best read from the perspective of an American colonist in 1776; he or she would have remembered the Intolerable Acts and the battles of Lexington, Concord, and Bunker Hill. Just as The Federalist Papers are essential reading in understanding the Constitution, Common Sense is essential reading in understanding the move toward independence in 1776.
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