Common Sense : And the American Crisis
Common Sense is the book that created the modern United States. Thomas Paine's incendiary call for Americans to revolt against British rule converted millions to the cause of independence and set out a vision of a just society liberated from the yoke of the crown. Published anonymously in 1776, six months before the Declaration of Independence, Common Sense was a radical and impassioned call for America to free itself and set up an independent republican government. Savagely attacking hereditary kingship and aristocratic institutions, Paine urged a new beginning for his adopted country in which personal freedom and social equality would be upheld and economic and cultural progress encouraged. His pamphlet was the first to speak directly to a mass audience-it went through fifty-six editions within a year of publication-and its assertive and often caustic style embodied the democratic spirit he advocated.