46 pages: Tom Paine, Common Sense and the Turning Point to Independence by Scott Liell
Scott Liell’s book wants to understand ‘How did Tom Paine’s pamphlets inspire a nation to revolution?’ If Paine felt empathy with Americans due to his own experiences he would have written the pamphlets in a way that would help them understand the urgency of the problem.
Chapter 1 gives a good example that shows how influential Paine’s pamphlets were. In 1775 the Congress was friendly towards King George and happy with the way trade and the relationship with England were progressing; however in 1776 Congress was preparing a bill to take up arms against England. Tom Paine’s Common Sense was for sale in January of 1776 and that was the key to the change in attitude.
In Chapter 2 describes how Paine’s experience on the privateering ship for two years affected his outlook on the world and the world of private finance in particular.
Chapter 3 explains how Benjamin Franklin’s interest in Paine helped him make the decision to travel to the American colonies after his bad experiences as an English customs officer.
Chapter 4: King George did not understand what was happening in the American colonies; he and his advisors expected a civil war in the colonies but not a war for independence.
Chapter 5: Paine explains the situation of Britain as the dying of an empire with all of its eggs in one basket, the American colonies. Britain did not seem so threatening in that way.
Chapter 6 explains the Boston Tea Party through the pamphlets published at the time (like Samuel Adam’s pamphlet) and the letters written between the important figures
Chapter 7 explains the success of Common Sense was partly because it was written in a language everyone could understand and identified one figure, King George, to blame.
Chapter 8: The Rights of Man by Tom Paine helped keep the motivation for independence progressing. The idea that every man had rights was popular and helped fuel the fight for independence.
Chapter 9: The people’s army with their muskets was the soldiers of the war.
Chapter 10: The leadership of John Adams is explained through his own writings. Respect for nature was influential on the basic proclamations in the Declaration of Independence.
The book had some interesting parts that told the facts relating to myths surrounding the American Revolution and those are good to know. The book would be very interesting to historians. The letters and some of the other readings were dry. The time was so different than the modern day it is difficult to feel any excitement from the letters. Paine did write the way common people could understand. He also used methods like blaming King George for everything; this simplified the reason for having a revolution against Britain.
Leill, Scott. 46 pages: Tom Paine, Common Sense and the Turning Point to Independence. Phileadelphia: Running Press, 2003.