Would Thomas Paine have been a blogger?
Born in London, Paine flunked out of grammar school at age 12; then bounced around England going from job to job — mostly as a failure at whatever he tried. He knew heartache, too, when his wife and child died in childbirth. Eventually he met Ben Franklin in London who convinced him to move the American colonies. Franklin served as a reference.
Paine just didn’t write, he wrote from his heart. A passionate writer who took on controversial topics such as the rights of free men and standing up to tyranny. He wrote all the time, often anonymously or under pseudonyms. Following the opening round of the American revolution — the battles of Lexington and Concord (April 19, 1775), Paine argued that America should not just revolt against taxation, but demand independence from Great Britain.
He was a driven writer, just like bloggers.
He was caught up in the American cause and he didn’t say it, he wrote it — in a 50 page pamphlet entitled, Common Sense, printed on January 10, 1776. It sold 500,000 copies. Later he produced The American Crisis, which helped inspire the American Army. George Washington read parts of the Crisis to his troops before they crossed the Delaware in 1776.
By 1793 Paine had moved to France and ended up in jail for not supporting the execution of Louis XVI. While in prison he wrote, The Age of Reason.
Newspapers in the American colonies were either not very good or nonexistent. They steered clear of controversy. Thus, if you had something to say, you wrote it and then went to a printer to publish a pamphlet. Usually the writer had a small number of pamphlets printed and took them to the streets to sell. Of course, the more controversial pamphlets sold faster.
Common Sense went viral — within its own time and age, of course. That Internet expression, “went viral,” comes from the word virus, meaning the video or article spread quickly. Common Sense hit the streets in Philadelphia on January 10, 1776, and became an immediate sensation, with 120,000 copies sold in the first three months of publication. At the time there were approximately 2.5 million people living in the 13 American colonies.
Would Thomas Paine be a blogger today?
Do you have to ask?