Thomas Paine's Common Sense Lesson for Kids: Facts & Summary

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  • 0:04 Thomas Paine
  • 0:56 Common Sense
  • 2:31 Effect on the Revolution
  • 2:58 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Michelle Jones

Michelle has taught at the elementary level and has earned a master's degree.

Thomas Paine used writing as a way to share his ideas about America's independence from Great Britain and government in general. Continue on to learn more about his famous pamphlet, ''Common Sense.''

Thomas Paine

How many times have you seen a commercial that made you really want something? Maybe it was a toy or tickets to a new movie. Today, when companies or people want to publicize their ideas and products, they can make a commercial and show it online or on television.

But during colonial times--long before computers, radios, and televisions--the only way to share information was by speaking or writing. Thomas Paine used the written word to let people know how he felt about what was happening in the world in general, and in the American colonies in particular.

Interestingly enough, Thomas Paine was actually born in Great Britain, the country from which he wanted America to separate! While in London, Thomas Paine met Benjamin Franklin, who convinced him to move to America. In 1774, Paine arrived in Philadelphia and became a journalist, a person who writes for newspapers. Not long afterwards, he wrote 'Common Sense'.

'Common Sense'

Have you ever loved a book so much that you read it over and over? For many American colonists, 'Common Sense' was one of those books, although some consider it a pamphlet because it's so short (just 48 pages). It's considered to be one of the most influential pieces of writing in American history.

Organized into four sections, 'Common Sense' explains why no country should have a king and why the American colonies should come together and rebel against Great Britain. In Part One, Paine describes the difference between government and society, arguing that living as a society is easier and more efficient. However, since people have a tendency to do bad things, there must be a government to protect them.

In Part Two, Paine discusses why he was against the idea of a monarchy, which is a country ruled by a king or queen. As he believed that all men were created equal, one person should not have the authority to rule over thousands. He also opposed someone becoming a king or queen just because he or she had been born into a royal family. He felt this led to unqualified and unfair rulers.

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