Common Sense Published: On This Day, January 10

Did you know that the most popular written work in American history was published before America was an actual nation of its own?

On January 10, 1776, six months before the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the Continental Congress, Thomas Paine published his explosive pro-independence pamphlet, Common Sense. The polemical work, which sold one copy for every five people living in the colonies, is famous not only for its revolutionary anti-monarchy message, but for the language with which Paine delivered that message. "I offer nothing more than simple facts, plain arguments, and common sense," he writes. Paine’s belief that his argument should be simply put so as to be read by as many people as possible reflects a fundamental enlightenment ideal that remains essential to our nation’s democratic identity today. Yet Common Sense relies on more than reason to convince its readers—Paine makes an appeal to his audience’s emotions as well. NYU Professor Nicole Eustace discusses the historical context and significance of Paine’s strategy in the video below.