Common sense



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COMMON SENSE” by THOMAS PAINE -- Primary Source Excerpts Matrix

Americans could not break their ties with Britain easily. Despite all the recent hardships, the majority of colonists since birth were reared to believe that England was to be loved and its monarch revered. Yet there were the terrible injustices the colonists could not forget. Americans were divided against themselves. Arguments for independence were growing. Thomas Paine would provide the extra push.

Common Sense was an instant best-seller. Published in January 1776 in Philadelphia, nearly 120,000 copies were in circulation by April. Paine's brilliant arguments were straightforward. He argued for two main points: (1) independence from England and (2) the creation of a democratic republic. In the end, his prose was common sense. Why should tiny England rule the vastness of a continent? How can colonists expect to gain foreign support while still professing loyalty to the British king? How much longer can Americans stand for the repeated abuses of the Crown? All these questions led many readers to one answer as the summer of 1776 drew near.

Re-state each quote from “Common Sense” below using the appropriate “Plain Language” on the back of this sheet.

“I challenge the warmest advocate for reconcilliation, to show a single advantage that this continent can reap, by being connected with Great Britain. I repeat the challenge; not a single advantage is derived.”




“We have boasted the protection of Great Britain without considering that her motive was interest, not attachment; and that she did not protect us from our enemies on our account, but from her enemies on her own account. . . ”




“I have heard it asserted by some, that as America hath flourished under her former connection with Great Britain, the same connection is necessary towards her future happiness, and will always have the same effect. Nothing can be more fallacious than this kind of argument.”




“But Britain is the parent country, say some. Then the more shame upon her conduct. Even brutes do not devour their young, nor savages make war upon their families…”




“Small islands, not capable of protecting themselves, are the proper objects for kingdoms to take under their care; but there is something absurd, in supposing a continent to be perpetually governed by an island. In no instance hath nature made the satellite larger than its primary planet.”




“Nothing but independence . . . can keep the peace of the continent . . . A government of our is our natural right; and when a man seriously reflects on the precariousness of human affairs, he will become convinced, that it is infinitely wiser and safer, to form a constitution of our own in a cool deliberate manner, while we have it in our power . . .”




What it means in PLAIN LANGUAGE!

Match up the plain language below with the appropriate “Common Sense” excerpt.

Write the plain language in the box under the excerpt.

Only indepedence can keep peace for us. Any man should realize that we should have freedom now.

We have been proud of our connection to England, but she had self-interest. England protects us for her own good.

Britain isn’t acting like a parent. Even animals don’t hurt their young.

Yes, a small land that needs help can have protection. But we are a big land. A satalilite doesn’t control a planet.

I challenge anyone wanting us to make peace with England to tell us one good reason why.



Some people think we have succeeded in the past due to our connection to England and that we need to continue this connection to be successful in the future. This is not true.

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