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Thomas Paine has been celebrated for his role in persuading the American colonists to revolt against Britain and declare their independence. At the same time, however, scholars have generally dismissed his writings as propaganda. This book demonstrates that Paine was a skilled and sophisticated writer and thinker who transformed political literature in the late eighteenth century by creating a new literature of politics that bridged political philosophy and the everyday, common-sensical knowledge of ordinary people. The impact of this new political language would be remarkable as it energized a mass public to participate in the arena of politics, an arena from which they had been excluded.