Thursday, September 8, 2011

Thomas Paine and the Pamphleteers

The advent of the printing press brought a technological explosion somewhat analogous to the what has happened with the internet in recent decades.  Suddenly the means of making one's opinions known to a wide audience became available to anyone who could get their hands on a printing press.  As a result there rose up a new literary format "the pamphlet".  Today we think of a pamphlet as something that advertises a resort or explains a medical condition.  But in the late 1700s pamphlets were printed by rogue intellectuals and fire-brands who were engaging in spirited political debate with one another.  These pamphlets were given away to the right people, or sold in book stores.  The most famous pamphlet in America is undoubtedly Thomas Paine's common sense, a pamphlet which was written by Paine to support the American revolutionary cause.

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