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US History Fall Exam

Terms in this set (89)

Thomas Paine was a recent immigrant from Great Britain who associated with a group of advocates of the American cause such as John Adams, and Dr. Benjamin Rush who was a Philadelphia physician who suggested Paine write a pamphlet supporting American independence. Instead of being a recital of colonial grievances, it was an attack on England. "There is something absurd in supposing a Continent to be perpetually governed by an island.". With independence, moreover, the colonies could for the first time trade freely with the entire world and insulate themselves from involvement in the endless imperial wars of Europe. Membership in the British empire, Paine insisted, was a burden to the colonies, not a benefit. Most of Paine's ideas were not original. What made Common Sense unique was his mode of expressing them and the audience he addressed. Previous political writings had generally been directed toward the educated elite. Paine, however, pioneered a new style of political writing, one designed to expand dramatically the public sphere where political discussion took place. He wrote clearly and directly, and he avoided the complex language and Latin phrases common in pamphlets aimed at educated readers. Common Sense quickly became one of the most successful and influential pamphlets in the history of political writing, selling, by Paine's estimate, some 150,000 copies. Paine directed that his share of the profits be used to buy supplies for the Continental army. In the spring of 1776, scores of American communities adopted resolutions calling for a separation from Britain. Only six months elapsed between the appearance of Common Sense and the decision by the Second Continental Congress to sever the colonies' ties with Great Britain.