British Edition of Common Sense
Common Sense was a political pamphlet published in the American colonies in 1776, and was hugely influential in the movement towards independence from Britain. The author, Thomas Paine, initially published the pamphlet anonymously, but Philadelphians soon learned his identity. Paine was a British political philosopher who moved to America shortly before the outbreak of hostilities in the American Revolution. Using both political and moral reasoning, Paine sought to argue for separation from Britain in clear terms, and encourage American colonists towards independence. Common Sense was widely distributed and read throughout the colonies, and was a pinnacle tool in shaping public opinion.
Soon, publication of Common Sense spread abroad as well. It was published across Europe, in Paris, Germany, and in London, the heart of the British empire. London publisher J. Almon printed Common Sense in 1776 along with several other tracts on government at his office, located “opposite Burlington-House in Piccadilly.” Almon, however, made a handful of additions to the text, and redacted segments concerning the king and the British government that might subject him to accusations of libel or treason. The digitized text on this site is the first of four editions of Common Sense J. Almon printed, and is the first edition published in England. We invite you to explore the text and Almon’s changes here.
Roughly 40 pages in length, Common Sense is divided into four parts. Start from the beginning, or click on the links below to proceed to a section:
I. Of the Origin and Design of Government in general, with concise Remarks on the English Constitution (page 1)
II. Of Monarchy and Hereditary Succession (page 6)
III. Thoughts on the Present State of American Affairs (page 15)
IV. On the Present Ability of America, with some Miscellaneous Reflections (page 30)