Introduction

Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not yet sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favor; a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason.

As a long and violent abuse of power, is generally the Means of calling the right of it in question (and in Matters too which might never have been thought of, had not the Sufferers been aggravated into the inquiry) and as the King of England hath undertaken in his own Right, to support the Parliament in what he calls Theirs, and as the good people of this country are grievously oppressed by the combination, they have an undoubted privilege to inquire into the pretensions of both, and equally to reject the usurpation of either.

In the following sheets, the author hath studiously avoided every thing which is personal among ourselves. Compliments as well as censure to individuals make no part thereof. The wise, and the worthy, need not the triumph of a pamphlet; and those whose sentiments are injudicious, or unfriendly, will cease of themselves unless too much pains are bestowed upon their conversion.

The cause of America is in a great measure the cause of all mankind. Many circumstances hath, and will arise, which are not local, but universal, and through which the principles of all Lovers of Mankind are affected, and in the Event of which, their Affections are interested. The laying a Country desolate with Fire and Sword, declaring War against the natural rights of all Mankind, and extirpating the Defenders thereof from the Face of the Earth, is the Concern of every Man to whom Nature hath given the Power of feeling; of which Class, regardless of Party Censure, is the AUTHOR.

P.S. The Publication of this new Edition hath been delayed, with a View of taking notice (had it been necessary) of any Attempt to refute the Doctrine of Independence: As no Answer hath yet appeared, it is now presumed that none will, the Time needful for getting such a Performance ready for the Public being considerably past.

Who the Author of this Production is, is wholly unnecessary to the Public, as the Object for Attention is the Doctrine itself, not the Man. Yet it may not be unnecessary to say, That he is unconnected with any Party, and under no sort of Influence public or private, but the influence of reason and principle.

Philadelphia, February 14, 1776

Footnotes

  1. To "extirpate" someone, or something, is to find and destroy it. In this circumstance Paine is writing about concern over the destruction of those who defend against the natural rights of mankind.

    — Isabelle, Owl Eyes Staff
  2. Paine chooses the word "censure" to express strong disapproval; in this case Paine is clarifying that he will neither praise, nor formally disprove of, any individuals in the pamphlet.

    — Isabelle, Owl Eyes Staff
  3. The word "tumult" means confusion or disorder, and in this context, it refers to the chaos or confusion that Paine believes will wane after people read, and think about, this text.

    — Isabelle, Owl Eyes Staff
  4. At the time that this pamphlet was published, the Revolutionary War had lasted for only a year. Paine's writing was instrumental in encouraging colonists to support the revolution and fight for independence.

    — Isabelle, Owl Eyes Staff
  5. This sentence serves as a call to the universality of the colonies' cause. It's not just for the thirteen American colonies; independence is a right that all should have. This inclusivity helps to improve Paine's argument by reinforcing his broader claims about the inherent right of universal equality.

    — Isabelle, Owl Eyes Staff
  6. This section displays a strategic rhetorical appeal to the audience. Paine's use of ethos helps to demonstrate lack of biases and further reinforces the universal mentality of the proposed new nation.

    — Isabelle, Owl Eyes Staff
  7. It is the right of the American people to question, and even reject, the decisions and governing laws of the King of England and Parliament. This is the basis of Paine's work going forward: he is calling Britain's colonial rule into question, and raising important concerns about the validity of the laws imposed upon the colonies.

    — Isabelle, Owl Eyes Staff
  8. This is one of the more famous lines in "Common Sense," and it explains Paine's belief that people are unlikely to be convinced of something through logic and reasoning alone. Instead, people are more easily persuaded by the passage of time and the opportunity to see the those things come to fruition as time carries on.

    — Isabelle, Owl Eyes Staff