Founding of the US

Thomas Paine painting by George Romney, 1792. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division:

Why did Thomas Paine argue for independence?

Download Lesson: Founding of the US

This lesson is designed to support student comprehension of an excerpt from Common Sense written by Thomas Paine. This passage is included in Appendix B of the Common Core State Standards. To build context for their reading, students will read a short biography about the author and the events that inspired him to write.Through a close read of Common Sense, students will identify Paine’s arguments for American independence from Britain. Students will analyze the effectiveness and purpose of Paine’s rich and impassioned use of language to describe current events and to persuade his fellow Patriots to revolt against “eternal tyranny.” They will also read, discuss, and determine the significance of the historical figures referenced by Paine. Why did Thomas Paine argue for independence? Students will explore this question and Paine’s urgency in motivating people to act now. As an extension, students may explore the evolution of American democracy by determining the parallels between the messages of “the abuse of power” by the British government versus the need for American “self-­‐government” found in Common Sense and the Declaration of Independence.


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