Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Thomas Paine's Common Sense. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
Common Sense: Introduction
Common Sense: Plot Summary
Common Sense: Detailed Summary & Analysis
Common Sense: Themes
Common Sense: Quotes
Common Sense: Characters
Common Sense: Symbols
Common Sense: Theme Wheel
Brief Biography of Thomas Paine
Historical Context of Common Sense
Other Books Related to Common Sense
- Full Title: Common Sense: Addressed to the Inhabitants of America
- When Written: 1775-1776
- Where Written: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- When Published: January 10, 1776 (first edition)
- Literary Period: Enlightenment
- Genre: Political Pamphlet
- Climax: After breaking down his moral reasoning for American independence, Paine urges his readers not to wait—the present is the appropriate time to incite a revolution.
- Antagonist: Great Britain; King George III
- Point of View: First Person; Second Person
Extra Credit for Common Sense
Gone Viral. Common Sense was an unprecedented publishing success. Though estimates vary, it may have sold as many as 500,000 copies in the colonies by the end of the American Revolution, meaning that an estimated 20 percent of colonists would have owned a copy—especially remarkable given that its popularity spread primarily by word of mouth.
Trying Times. In late 1776, George Washington ordered his officers to read part of Paine’s The American Crisis, a pamphlet series following up on Common Sense, to the Continental Army on the eve of the crossing of the Delaware.