How did the publication of “Common Sense” affect public opinion?

1792 printing of Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation.

1792 printing of Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation.

In January 1776, a small political pamphlet written by Thomas Paine was published in America. The small pamphlet, entitled “Common Sense”, was written in a style which most Americans could comprehend and outlined arguments why the American colonies should declare independence from Great Britain. Paine had recently immigrated to America from Europe and, with the help of Benjamin Franklin, found employment in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In his historic piece, Paine blamed the kings of the world for all of the problems of the world. Paine noted that “government by kings was the most prosperous invention the Devil ever set on foot for the promotion of idolatry.” Basing many of his anti-monarchial theories on Biblical scripture, Paine criticized exalting one man so greatly above the rest and argued it cannot be justified on the equal rights of nature. Adding to the evil of monarchy, Paine criticized hereditary succession and claimed it was an insult and imposition on posterity. Paine wrote, “In short, monarchy and succession have laid (not this or that kingdom) but the world in blood and ashes.” The small pamphlet enjoyed enormous success and sold 120,000 copies in the first three months and 500,000 in the first year. This small pamphlet went through a number of editions and did much to move large numbers of people from the neutral camp into the Patriot camp.