'Common sense', by Thomas Paine

Title page of 'Common sense'

Title page of the third edition of Thomas Paine's book 'Common sense', which was 'addressed to the inhabitants of America'.


Thomas Paine (1737-1809) emigrated from Britain to America in November 1774. Within months, he was working on 'Common sense', the book that helped turn a rebellion into a war for independence.

Challenging the authority of the British monarchy, Paine promoted republicanism as the sole rational means of government.

Written in prose accessible to the masses, 'Common sense' became a ground-breaking, political bestseller.

Robert Bell, the printer, had learned his trade in Glasgow and Berwick-upon-Tweed before emigrating to America.

He and Paine argued over the profits from the first edition.

This edition was printed in 1776 by Bell without Paine's permission.

[NLS reference: H.S.564]


This item featured in our display about American independence, which ran from 4 July to 16 September 2012.


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