Common Sense and Other Writings by Thomas Paine
(Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Common Sense and Other Writings, by Thomas Paine, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics: New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars Biographies of the authors Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events Footnotes and endnotes Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work Comments by other famous authors Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations Bibliographies for further reading Indices & Glossaries, when appropriateAll editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works. Though he did not emigrate from England to the American colonies until 1774, just a few months before the Revolutionary War began, Thomas Paine had an enormous impact on that war and the new nation that emerged from it. Common Sense, the instantly popular pamphlet he published in January 1776, argued that the goal of the struggle against the British should be not simply tax reform, as many were calling for, but complete independence. His rousing, radical voice was balanced by the equally independence-minded but more measured tones of Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the Declaration of Independence later that year.

In later works, such as The Rights of Man, The Age of Reason, and other selections included in this volume, Paine proved himself a visionary moralist centuries ahead of his time. He believed that every human has the natural right to life’s necessities and that government’s role should be to provide for those in dire need. An impassioned opponent of all forms of slavery, he understood that no one in poverty is truly free, a lesson still to be learned by many of our leaders today. Joyce Appleby, Professor Emerita at the University of California, Los Angeles, has followed the trajectory of American nation-building in her books Capitalism and a New Social Order: The Republican Vision of the 1790s, Inheriting the Revolution: The First Generation of Americans, Thomas Jefferson, and A Restless Past: History and the American Public.

About Thomas Paine

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Born to parents with Quaker leanings, Thomas Paine grew up amid modest circumstances in the rural environs of Thetford, England. As the recipient of what he termed "a good moral education and a tolerable stock of useful learning," little in Paine's early years seemed to suggest that he would one day rise to a stunning defense of American independence in such passionate and compelling works as Common Sense (1776) and The American Crisis essays (1776-83). Paine's early years were characterized by a constant struggle to remain financially solvent while pursuing a number of nonintellectual activities. Nevertheless, the young Paine read such Enlightenment theorists as Isaac Newton and John Locke and remained dedicated to the idea that education was a lifelong commitment. From 1753 to 1759, Paine worked alternately as a sailor, a staymaker, and a customs officer. Between 1759 and 1772, he married twice. His first wife died within a year of their marriage, and Paine separated amicably from his second wife after a shop they operated together went bankrupt. While these circumstances seemed gloomy, Paine fortuitously made the acquaintance of Benjamin Franklin in London in 1773. Impressed by Paine's self-education, Franklin encouraged the young man to venture to America where he might prosper. Arriving in Philadelphia in 1774, Paine quickly found himself energized by the volatile nature of Revolutionary politics. Working as an editor of Pennsylvania Magazine, Paine found a forum for his passionate radical views. In the years that followed, Paine became increasingly committed to American independence, and to his conviction that the elitist and corrupt government that had ruled over him in England had little business extending its corrosive colonial power to the States. Moved by these beliefs, Paine published Common Sense (1776), a test that proved invaluable in unifying American sentiment against British rule. Later, after joining the fray as a soldier, Paine penned the familiar lines in "The American Crisis": "These are the times that try men's souls." Fifteen years later, Paine wrote his other famous work, Rights of Man (1791). Drawing on his eclectic experiences as a laborer, an international radical politician, and a revolutionary soldier, Paine asserted his Lockeian belief that since God created humans in "one degree only," then rights should be equal for every individual.
Published February 11, 2003 by Modern Library. 352 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Literature & Fiction, History, Law & Philosophy. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Common Sense and Other Writings

The Washington Post

Had the bard of common sense meant to imply with this phrase “that his Opinion is the Common Sense of all America, or that all those who do not think with him are destitute of Common Sense?” Neither, of course, could be considered remotely true, according to the anonymous author of “True Merits o...

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