9780143036258

Common Sense

by
  • ISBN13:

    9780143036258

  • ISBN10:

    0143036254

  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2005-09-06
  • Publisher: Penguin Books

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Summary

"When Common Sense was published in January 1776, it sold, by some estimates, a stunning 150,000 copies in the colonies. What exactly made this pamphlet so appealing? This is a question not only about the state of mind of Paine's audience, but also about the role of public opinion and debate, the function of the press, and the shape of political culture in the colonies." "The Broadview edition of Paine's famous pamphlet attempts to reconstruct the context in which it appeared and to recapture the energy and passion of the dispute over the political future of the British colonies in North America. Included along with the text of Common Sense are some of the contemporary arguments for and against the Revolution by John Dickinson, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson; materials from the debate that followed the pamphlet's publication showing the difficulty of the choices facing the colonists; the Declaration of Independence; and the Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776."--BOOK JACKET.

Author Biography

Thomas Paine was born in Thetford, England, in 1737, the son of a staymaker. He had little schooling and worked at a number of jobs, including tax collector, a position he lost for agitating for an increase in excisemen’s pay. Persuaded by Benjamin Franklin, he emigrated to America in 1774. In 1776 he began his American Crisis series of thirteen pamphlets, and also published the incalculably influential Common Sense, which established Paine not only as a truly revolutionary thinker, but as the American Revolution’s fiercest political theorist. In 1787 Paine returned to Europe, where he became involved in revolutionary politics. In England his books were burned by the public hangman. Escaping to France, Paine took part in drafting the French constitution and voted against the king’s execution. He was imprisoned for a year and narrowly missed execution himself. In 1802 he returned to America and lived in New York State, poor, ill and largely despised for his extremism and so-called atheism (he was in fact a deist). Thomas Paine died in 1809. His body was exhumed by William Cobbett, and the remains were taken to England for a memorial burial. Unfortunately, the remains were subsequently lost.

Table of Contents

Common Sense Common Sense

Agrarian Justice

Excerpts

Of the Origin and Design of Government in General. With Concise Remarks on the English Constitution

Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happinesspositivelyby uniting our affections, the latternegativelyby restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher.

Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseriesby a government, which we might expect in a countrywithout government, our calamities are heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer. Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence; the palaces of kings are built on the ruins of the bowers of paradise. For were the impulses of conscience clear, uniform, and irresistibly obeyed, man would need no other lawgiver; but that not being the case, he finds it necessary to surrender up a part of his property to furnish means for the protection of the rest; and this he is induced to do by the same prudence which in every other case advises him out of two evils to choose the least.

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