Jan 2012

Thomas Paine publishes ‘Common Sense’ (10 Jan 1776)

It’s a year old now (where has the time gone?) but one of my pieces has come around again over at On This Deity.

At the beginning of 1776 the American Revolution was well underway and growing in intensity with each passing week. The Battle of Bunker Hill in June ’75 had shaken the British army so badly they’d been on the back foot ever since. And by March of 1776 Washington’s advance on Boston would drive the bulk of that army into Canada. Of course, King George would respond with a lengthy military campaign and the War of Independence would continue for some years. In truth though, it was back between Bunker Hill and Boston that American independence became inevitable. Because it was on this day, January 10th back in 1776 that Thomas Paine published Common Sense.

With a US election later this year that looks like it will be a run off between an incumbent corporatist and a religious challenger, the tensions that divide American society, and which can be found even within the pages of Paine’s book (despite his overt call for religious pluralism) will once again bubble to the surface.

For those who have not read it and who are interested in one of the most culturally influential texts in American history, the entire thing (and it’s pretty short) can be read on this page. It’s definitely worth a read.

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