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Title page of Common Sense; Addressed to the Inhabitants of America

The Law Library purchased Common Sense by Thomas Paine as its 999,999th volume.* The pamphlet is one of the first editions of the "Enlarged Version," published by William and Thomas Bradford on February 14, 1776. This edition was authorized by Paine due to a dispute over royalties between the author and Robert Bell, the original publisher. It had been Paine's intention to devote his share of the profit from the sale of Common Sense to buy winter clothing for the Continental army, but Bell insisted that no profit had been realized from the first printing. Paine then authorized William and Thomas Bradford to publish this enhanced edition, which includes an appendix and "An Address to the People Called Quakers."

Thomas Paine's Common Sense has been called the "single most influential political work in American history" and is credited with "turning the American mind toward the thought of independence." The first edition appeared in book stalls on January 9, 1776, and was an immediate publishing success. More than 120,000 copies of the forty-six page pamphlet were sold in just three months. (Scott Liell, 46 Pages: Thomas Paine, Common Sense, and the Turning Point to American Independence, 2003 at 16).

*For the Library's millionth volume see The Clarence Darrow Digital Collection



Thomas Paine, 1737-1809
Common Sense
Philadelphia, 1776