“Common Sense was a pamphlet written by Thomas Paine. It was first published anonymously on January 9, 1776, during the American Revolution. Paine wrote it with editorial feedback from Benjamin Rush, who came up with the title. The document denounced British rule and, through its immense popularity, contributed to fomenting the American Revolution… Paine donated the copyright for Common Sense to the states, and as one biographer noted, Paine made nothing of the estimated 150,000 to 600,000 copies that were eventually printed (various sources disagree on the number of printed copies in Paine’s lifetime). In fact, he had to pay for the first printing himself.” (Source: wikipedia.org)
“Rights of Man was written by Thomas Paine in 1791 as a reply to Reflections on the Revolution in France by Edmund Burke. It has been interpreted as a work defending the French Revolution, but it is also a seminal work embodying the ideas of liberty and human equality.” (Source: wikipedia.org)
About the Author
“Thomas Paine… was a pamphleteer, revolutionary, radical, liberal and intellectual. Born in Great Britain, he lived in America, having migrated to the American colonies just in time to take part in the American Revolution, mainly as the author of the powerful, widely read pamphlet, Common Sense (1776), advocating independence for the American Colonies from the Kingdom of Great Britain and of The American Crisis, supporting the Revolution.
Later, Paine was a great influence on the French Revolution. He wrote the Rights of Man (1791) as a guide to the ideas of the Enlightenment. Despite an inability to speak French, he was elected to the French National Assembly in 1792. Regarded as an ally of the Girondists, he was seen with increasing disfavour by the Montagnards and in particular by Robespierre.
Paine was arrested in Paris and imprisoned in December 1793; he was released in 1794. He became notorious with his book, The Age of Reason (1793-94), which advocated deism and took issue with Christian doctrines. While in France, he also wrote a pamphlet titled Agrarian Justice (1795), which discussed the origins of property and introduced a concept that is similar to a guaranteed minimum income.
Paine remained in France during the early Napoleonic Era, but condemned Napoleon’s moves towards dictatorship, calling him “the completest charlatan that ever existed.” Paine remained in France until 1802, when he returned to America on an invitation from Thomas Jefferson, who had been elected president.
Paine died at 59 Grove Street in Greenwich Village, New York City, on the morning of June 8, 1809.” (Quote from wikipedia.org)
Why the President Should Read This Book
Common Sense was written for a different age and time. A time when the colonists, British subjects, were treated poorly by the British government. Today, many citizens of the United States, not to mention non-citizens, also feel they are treated unjustly, but today the aggressor is the United States rather than Britain. What has not changed is the primary reasons for the bad feelings, nor the motivation of the aggressor. Ordinary Americans feel they are taxed and regulated too much by a dominant political class of elites (analogous to the British crown), and taken advantage of by big businesses that have become enmeshed in a web of corruption with our government (just as the mercantilists were wedded to the British monarchy). Americans today, like those of 200+ years ago, want freedom. The political class of today, just as the British elite of 200+ years ago, wants power.
Unlike the colonists, the vast majority of Americans today do not advocate a violent solution to the problem. Happily, the system the Founders created allows us restore power to the people from which all power of government is derived. But it begins with a little common sense. The people are becoming educated. If the President is not becoming educated along with them, he should at least read Common Sense so that he knows what he will face.
Note: Since George Washington was contemporary with Thomas Paine, I suppose he wouldn’t need to read this book were he brought back from the dead, although I suppose he might want to re-read it.