For Kids: The war with Britain had already started in 1776. It was mostly skirmishes, but things were getting organized. Still, in spite of everything that had happened all the unfair laws, all the oppression and crushing taxes, most colonists still wanted to remain a part of England. They wanted to remain loyal to the king. It was what they knew. It was what they were used to. But many changed their minds after reading a short pamphlet, less than 50 pages, called Common Sense, written by Thomas Paine.
In Common Sense, Paine asked some really important questions, like ..
Why should a huge continent be tied to a little island thousands of miles away?
Why should colonists submit to laws that hurt their trade and industry?
Why should the colonists show loyalty to a king who oppresses them?
Paine argued that America should follow its own destiny, and that independence from Great Britain was the "common sense" thing to do. His pamphlet, Common Sense, sold over 100,000 copies, an enormous number for the times.
Thomas Paine was an immigrant. He had not been in the colonies for very long. But he had some powerful friends. Benjamin Franklin first met Paine in London. Franklin was impressed by Paine. It was Franklin who convinced Paine to come to America. Franklin wrote a letter of recommendation to help Paine find a job. George Washington was also impressed by Paine's ideas.
But Paine actually said nothing that the colonial leaders did not already know and expressed many times. The thing was, Paine said it so very well, and positioned the solution as obvious, as "common sense". His clarity of thought helped to sway the opinions of many colonists, including some colonial leaders who had been dragging their feet.