How did cutting board Paine’s pamphlet usual Sense to convince reluctant americans to abandon the score of reconciliation through Britain and accept the separation from Britain — independence — was the just option for maintaining their liberty?


By January 1776, the American colonies were in open up rebellion versus Britain. Their soldiers had captured Fort Ticonderoga, besieged Boston, fortified new York City, and also invaded Canada. Yet few dared voice what most knew was true — they were no much longer fighting for their rights as brothers subjects. They no fighting because that self-defense, or defense of their property, or to force Britain come the negotiating table. They to be fighting because that independence. It take it a tough jolt to move Americans native professed commitment to asserted rebellion, and it come in big part from cutting board Paine’s Common Sense. Not a dumbed-down rant for the masses, as often described, Common Sense is a masterful item of argument and also rhetoric that confirmed the strength of words.



Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776

Common Sense in do the change from the National humanities Center.>

Text Type

Literary nonfiction; persuasive essay. In the Text Analysis section, Tier 2 vocabulary native are identified in pop-ups, and also Tier 3 native are described in brackets.

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Text Complexity

Grades 9-10 intricacy band.

For much more information on text intricacy see these sources from

Click below for requirements and an abilities for this lesson.


Common core State Standards

ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.6 (Determine an author’s point of check out or objective in a text and analyze exactly how an writer uses rhetoric to breakthrough that allude of check out or purpose.)

Advanced Placement united state History

3.2 (IB) (Republican forms of government uncovered expression in cutting board Paine’s Common Sense.)

Advanced placement English Language and also Composition

Reading nonfictionAnalyzing and identifying and author’s usage of rhetorical strategies

Teacher’s Note

This lesson concentrates on the sections central to Paine’s debate in Common Sense — ar III and the Appendix to the third Edition, released a month after ~ the an initial edition. We execute not recommend assigning the complete essay (Sections I, II, and also IV require progressed background in British background that Paine’s reader would have known well). However, students need to be led through an introduction of the essay come understand how Paine built his debates to a “self-evident” conclusion (See Background: Message, below.)

Activity: indigenous Resistance come RevolutionCompare Paine’s message and also rhetoric in 1776 through that of a center Patriot in 1768.

Lead students v an initial rundown of the essay (see Background). Come begin, they can skim the complete text and also read the pull-quotes (separated price quotes in big bold text). What impression of Common Sense carry out the quotes provide? What questions carry out they prompt? Then guide students as they review (perhaps aloud) ar III that Common Sense and also the Appendix to the 3rd Edition (pp. 10-19 and also 25-29 in the complete text provided with this lesson).

Proceed to the close analysis of three excerpts in the Text Analysis below. (Note that component of Excerpt #3 is a typical Core exemplar text.)

This great is divided into two parts, both easily accessible below. The teacher’s guide contains a background note, the text analysis with responses to the close reading questions, access to the interaction exercises, and a follow-up assignment. The student’s version, an interaction worksheet that have the right to be e-mailed, contains all of the above except the responses come the close analysis questions.

Teacher’s overview (continues below)Background noteText evaluation and nearby reading inquiries with answer keyInteractive exercisesFollow-up assignmentStudent variation (click to open)Interactive PDFBackground noteText evaluation and close analysis questionsInteractive exercises

Teacher’s Guide



The man at ideal does no look angry. Come us, he projects the typical figure of a “Founding Father” — composed, elite, and empowered. And also to united state his famed essays room awash in powdered-wig prose. Yet the portrait and the prose belie the reality. Thomas Paine was a firebrand, and also his most influential essay — Common Sense — to be a fevered no-holds-barred contact for independence. The is credited with transforming the tide of publicly opinion in ~ a an essential juncture, convincing countless Americans that war for self-reliance was the only choice to take, and they had actually to take it it now, or else.

Common Sense appeared as a pamphlet for sale in Philadelphia top top January 10, 1776, and, as we speak today, it went viral. The an initial printing sold out in 2 weeks and over 150,000 copies were marketed throughout America and Europe. That is estimated that one fifth of Americans review the pamphlet or heard it check out aloud in public. Basic Washington notified it review to his troops. In ~ weeks, the seemed, reconciliation through Britain had actually gone from an honorable score to a cowardly betrayal, if independence came to be the rallying cry of united Patriots. How did Paine accomplish this?

1. Timing.

Over a year elapsed between the outbreak of equipped conflict and the explanation of Independence. Throughout these fifteen months, plenty of bemoaned the reluctance of americans to renounce their ties through Britain regardless of the escalating warfare roughly them. “When we are no much longer fascinated v the Idea that a speedy Reconciliation,” composed Benjamin Franklin in mid-1775, “we chandelier exert ourselves to some purpose. It spins then points will be excellent by Halves.”1 In addition, over there remained lot discord amongst the colonies around their mutual future. “Some timid minds room terrified at the word independence,” composed Elbridge Gerry in march 1776, referring to the early american legislatures. “America has gone such lengths she cannot recede, and also I am convinced a couple of weeks or months at furthest will convince she of the fact, however the fruit must have actually time to ripen in few of the other Colonies.”2 In this environment, Common Sense appeared like a “meteor,” created John Adams,3 and propelled numerous to assistance independence. Many provided it at the moment with amazement.

“Sometime past the idea would have struck me with horror. I now see no alternative;… Can any kind of virtuous and also brave American hesitate one moment in the choice?”

The Pennsylvania night Post, 13 February 1776

“We were blind, yet on analysis these enlightening functions the scales have fallen from our eyes…. The doctrine of self-reliance hath remained in times past considerably disgustful; us abhorred the principle. The is now become our exciting theme and also commands our purest affections. We revere the author and also highly prize and admire his works.”

The New-London Gazette, 22 in march 1776

2. Message.

What make Common Sense for this reason esteemed and also “enlightening”? some argue that Common Sense stated nothing new, the it simply put the call-to-war in fiery street language the rallied the usual people. But this trivializes Paine’s accomplishment. He did have a brand-new message in Common Sense — one ultimatum. Provide up reconciliation now, or forever shed the possibility for independence. If us fail to act, we’re self-deceiving cowards condemning our kids to tyranny and cheating the world of a beacon that liberty. It is our calling to design self-actualized nationhood because that the world. “The cause of America is in a an excellent measure the cause of all mankind.”


Paine split Common Sense into four sections through deceptively mundane titles, mimicking the erudite politics pamphlets that the day. Yet his essay did not offer the same-old-same-old writing on british heritage and American rights. Here’s what he claims in Common Sense:

Introduction: The concepts I current here are so brand-new that many people will refuse them. Readers should clear your minds that long-held notions, use common sense, and embrace the reason of America together the “cause of all mankind.” how we respond come tyranny this day will issue for every time.

Section One: The English federal government you worship? It’s a sham. Guy may need government to defend him native his failure nature, yet that doesn’t typical he need to suffocate under brute tyranny. Just as you would cut ties through abusive parents, you must break from Britain.

Section Two: The monarchy you revere? It’s not our protector; it’s ours enemy. That doesn’t care about us; it cares about Britain’s wealth. That has carried misery to world all end the world. And also the really idea the monarchy is absurd. Why have to someone ascendancy over us simply since he (or she) is someone’s child? So angry is monarchy by its very nature that God condemns it in the Bible.

Section Three: Our situation today? that folly to think we must maintain loyalty to a far-off tyrant. That self-sabotage to go after reconciliation. For us, best here, appropriate now, reconciliation method ruin. America have to separate native Britain. Us can’t go ago to the cozy days before the stamp Act. You recognize that’s true; that time to admit it. Because that heaven’s sake, we’re currently at war!

Section Four: have the right to we victory this war? Absolutely! ignore the naysayers that tremble in ~ the thought of brothers might. Let’s construct a continent Navy together we have developed our continent Army. Let united state declare independence. If us delay, it will certainly be that much harder to win. I understand the possibility is daunting, yet the possibility of inaction is terrifying.

A month later, in his appendix come the third edition, Paine escalated his appeal come a utopian fervor. “We have actually it in our strength to start the human being over again,” that insisted. “The date of birth of a new world is at hand.”

3. Rhetoric.

“It is necessary to it is in bold,” wrote Paine years afterwards his rhetorical power. “Some world can it is in reasoned right into sense, and also others must be shocked into it. To speak a bold thing that will certainly stagger them, and also they will start to think.”4 store this idea front and also center together you study Common Sense.

As an knowledgeable essayist and also a recent English immigrant through his very own deep resentments versus Britain, Paine was the right man at the appropriate time come galvanize windy opinion. The “understood much better than anyone rather in America,” explains literary scholar Robert Ferguson, “that ‘style and manner the thinking’ might dictate the daunting shift from loyalty to rebellion.”5 prior to Paine, the language of politics essays had been moderate. Educated guys wrote civilly for publication and also kept their rage for exclusive letters and also diaries. Then come Paine, cursing Britain together an “open enemy,” denouncing George III together the “Royal Brute the England,” and damning reconciliation together “truly farcical” and “a fallacious dream.” to think otherwise, that charged, was “absurd,” “unmanly,” and also “repugnant to reason.” together Virginian Landon Carter composed in dismay, Paine implied that anyone that disagreed with him “is nothing brief of a coward and also a sycophant , i beg your pardon in plain meaning must be a damned rascal.”6 Paine knew what he was doing: the pen was his weapon, and words his ammunition. He said with concepts while convincing v raw emotion. “The allude to remember,” to write Ferguson, “is the Paine’s natural and also intended audience is the American mob…. He uses anger, the organic emotion the the mob, to let the most energetic groups discover themselves in the general will that a republican citizenry.”7 What if Paine had written the explanation of self-reliance with the very same hard-driving rhetoric?


We host these truths to it is in self-evident, the all men are created equal, that they space endowed by your Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that amongst these are Life, Liberty and the search of Happiness. — that to secure this rights, federal governments are instituted among Men, deriving their simply powers from the consent the the governed, — the whenever any kind of government becomes destructive of this ends, it is the right of the world to change or to abolish it, and also to institute brand-new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its strength in together form, regarding them shall it seems ~ most most likely to impact their Safety and Happiness.

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NO man have the right to deny, there is no abandoning his God-given capacity to reason, the all men go into into presence as equals. No matter exactly how lowly or majestic their origins, they go into life with three God-given civil liberties — the best to live, to ideal to live free, and also the right to live happily (or, at the least, to pursue pleasure on earth). Who would select existence on any type of other terms? so treasured room these rights that man created government to protect them. For this reason treasured space they that male is duty-bound to destroy any kind of government that crushes castle — and also start anew as guys worthy the the title of free MEN. This is the level truth, difficult to refute.