Common Sense

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Enormously popular and widely read pamphlet, first published in January of 1776, clearly and persuasively argues for American separation from Great Britain and paves the way for the Declaration of Independence. This highly influential landmark document attacks the monarchy, cites the evils of government and combines idealism with practical economic concerns. (From
Curriculet Details
20 Questions
18 Annotations
3 Quizzes

In this 11th and 12th grade digital curriculum, annotations include images of the setting, and explanations of literary devices such as emerging theme and metaphors. Interactive videos support engagement and cover subjects such as tone. The Common Core aligned questions and answers address text- based evidence, along with encouraging analysis of Paine's arguments and point of view. Our free online unit will increase student engagement with rich media annotations while supporting reading comprehension with questions and quizzes that are embedded directly into the book.

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Of the origin and design of government in general, with concise remarks on the English Constitution

What does Paine argue is the most significant difference between government and society? Cite evidence from the text to support your response. 
Paine uses the metaphor of a society being created in the middle of nowhere to show the necessity of government. His primary argument in the first section of the text is that government exists to "supply the defect of moral virtue in society." Do you agree with his argument? 
Paine argues that government relies on both the strength of the government and  
Paine is using a metaphor to illustrate the situation that is occurring in the colonies. Watch the short video below to learn more about why Paine uses this literary device.  (This annotation contains a video)
Paine uses the word "farcical" to convey a ____________ tone. 
The highlighted passage illustrates another one of Paine's central arguments. Pay attention to the evidence Paine presents to illustrate "that a thirst for absolute power is the natural disease of monarchy." 
Paine argues that the parliament simply acts as the king's ___________________. 
Quiz #1 

Of Monarchy and Hereditary Succession

Explain the relationship that Paine sees between oppression and wealth? 
Paine draws on the stories of the Old Testament to show that the natural order of civilization is without kings. Why do you think he uses the Old Testament as evidence for his beliefs? 
Paine argues that the monarchy was created by _______________. 
In the first part of this chapter, the emerging theme is that monarchy is unnatural and goes against the natural order of things. Pay attention to how a new theme around hereditary succession emerges in the following paragraphs. Watch the short video below to learn how themes emerge and combine.  (This annotation contains a video)
Paine argues that hereditary succession is ___________. 
Notice that Paine references God again in this passage. Pay attention to how he uses religion as evidence for what he is arguing. Why do you think Paine draws on religion in his evidence? 
Quiz #2 

Thoughts of the present state of American Affairs

Recall that this pamphlet was published in January of 1776. When Paine says that "volumes have been written on the subject of the struggle between England and America," he is correct. Think about why this pamphlet has stood out and is still read today. 
Paine uses a ____________ of a child drinking milk to convey his point.  
The tone of this passage is highly critical of Great Britain. To learn more about how authors develop a specific tone using diction, watch the short video below. (This annotation contains a video)
Paine argues that the colonies receive no advantage for being connected with Great Britain. What evidence does he use to defend this assertion?  
Paine argues that individuals who do not live near Boston 
Notice how Paine says that it is easier for men who live far away from the events happening in Boston to ignore what is going on. Pay attention to how Paine speaks to them and reflect on why his strong word choice makes his argument so effective. 
How does Paine feel about people who have experienced loss of property or life at the hands of Great Britain and who are unwilling to separate from Great Britain? 
Notice that Paine is giving background information about non-violent methods of protest that have been tried unsuccessfully. Why do you think Paine brings this up? Who is he trying to appeal to here? 
Pay attention to how Paine structures his argument here using transition words like "first" and "second." This makes his argument clear and easy to follow.  
The use of the word "barbarity" to describe British actions conveys a(n) ____________ tone.  
Pay attention to the plan Paine lays out for the future of America. Think about to what extent that this plan came to fruition.  
Paine argues that the primary purpose of government is  

Of the Present Ability of America, with some miscellaneous Reflections

Paine believes that America's strength comes from  
Why do you think Paine takes time to explain the reasons why generating a national debt is not a bad thing? 
The image below shows British ships (to the right). The British navy was renowned worldwide for its strength.  (This annotation contains an image)
What reasons does Paine give to prove that the present time is the best time to fight Britain? 
Paine ends the pamphlet by revisiting all of the reasons he gave before about why America should declare independence from Great Britain. Think about why ending the pamphlet this way makes his arguments clear.  
Paine compares the American continent to 


Watch the short video below to learn about the enormous impact that Common Sense had on the colonies. Having read the pamphlet, think about why this pamphlet was so widely read and popular with colonists. (This annotation contains a video)
What reasons does Paine give to support the notion that separating from Great Britain is in the interest of America? 
Paine argues that this is the ideal time for America to separate from Great Britain. Using the evidence he provides and your knowledge of the time period, think about if you agree with his assertion.  
Thomas Pain believes that reconciliation is ________________. 

Epistle to Quackers

Before reading the following, recall that Thomas Paine was born to a poor Quaker family.  
What evidence does Paine give to show that the war is justified? 
Paine sees that some parts of Quaker doctrine make Quakers 
Quiz #3