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The fighting at Lexington and Concord did not immediately transform American public opinion into supporting independence from Britain. Instead, a great debate was touched off, which took place in the homes, taverns and assemblies of the colonists.

Thomas Paine

One of the most important elements of this debate was furnished by Thomas Paine, who published the pamphlet Common Sense in January 1776. It is arguably the most successful political essay in American history and may have done for the War of Independence what Uncle Tom’s Cabin did for the Civil War.

Paine made the following points:

Presented in a popular form, Common Sense reached a large audience and helped to sway the undecided to support independence.


See timeline of the War of Independence.

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Thomas Paine: Enlightenment, Revolution, and the Birth of Modern Nations by Craig Nelson.
Despite being a founder of both the United States and the French Republic, the creator of the phrase "United States of America," and the author of thr...