Common Sense

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Courtesy of loc.gov

I found the portion of the chapter dedicated to the efforts of Thomas Paine most interesting and influential. Although indirectly related to Paine’s stamp in journalism history, I was impressed by his ambition. “Aged thirty-seven, he had worked in various jobs as a corset-maker, teacher and excise officer.” (Standage, 139). He was experienced in many different fields. I have learned a lot about Paine in prior journalism course however, Standage provides an extremely detailed account of his work. “Paine decided to publish it as a pamphlet, under the title ‘Plain Truth,’ but he was persuaded by a friend to rename it Common Sense.” (Standage, 139) I was not aware that Paine’s Common Sense started with a different name. I feel Common Sense is a more attractive title. An author, “Candidus”, created a rival newspaper and titled it “Plain Truth.” “This may have impressed the aristocratic loyalists for whom it was written, but like the Latin rebuttals to Luther’s works, it failed to connect with a wider audience.” (Standage, 144) Luckily, Common Sense worked as a better title for Paine’s pamphlet. On the contrary, Candidus was clever in his attempt to bad mouth Paine’s work. I was also shocked to discover thatin only ten days the pamphlet “spread to New York, Virginia, and Massachusetts.” Being Common Sense was published in the 1700’s I expected the dispersal of news to take a bit longer. I was also intrigued by the growth of Common Sense. It began with the uncertainty of how it would sell to Paine having to choose who would print his paper.

I was mostly impressed by the great influence Paine’s pamphlet had on the public. “In late January 1776, General Charles Lee wrote to Washington: ‘Have you seen the pamphlet ‘Common Sense?’ I never saw such a masterly irresistible performance. It will if I mistake not, in concurrence with transcendent folly and wickedness of the ministry, give the coup-de-grace to Great Britain. In short, I own myself convinced, by the arguments of the necessity of separation.” He changed not only the political lives of the public but also the world of journalism. I had also never heard of Paine’s letter’s entitled “The American Crisis.” Even after all of his success achieving the declaration of independence, he continued his work through these pamphlets by “boosting morale during the Revolutionary war and arguing against any compromise with the British.” (Sta ndage, 145) Common Sense was the first step to journalist independ

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