Today is the anniversary of the publication of Common Sense by Thomas Paine, printed in Pennsylvania anonymously on 10 January 1776. It was written in clear, every-day language to persuade the colonists in what was to be the United States of America to seek independence. War with Britain had already broken out but the Americans were not yet interested in severing ties with the Mother Country. As Paine wrote later, in 1778 ‘Their attachment to Britain was obstinate, and it was, at that time, a kind of treason to speak against it. Their ideas of grievance operated without resentment, and their single object was reconciliation.’ He perhaps exagerated. Almost 100,000 copies were sold in the the first year.