Study Guide

Common Sense Freedom

By Thomas Paine

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At its core, Common Sense is about freedom in America. It's not just about freedom from the British, but the kind of freedom that will exist in America once it becomes an independent nation with its own constitution.

First among the freedoms that Thomas Paine wants to see in a new America is the freedom for an individual to think and express whatever she or he wants to. But Americans will never be able to have that kind of freedom unless they're willing to stand up and fight for it. The war for freedom can't be won from the sidelines, and Paine firmly believes that every American (and everyone in the world, for that matter) has the responsibility to protect freedom at all costs.

Questions About Freedom

  1. What are some of the things Thomas Paine has in mind when he thinks of freedom in an independent America? Support you answer with specific evidence from the text.
  2. Do you think that present-day America lives up to Thomas Paine's ideals of freedom? How so? How not so?
  3. What are some of the things, in Paine's mind, which prevent Britain from ever becoming a properly free society? Use specific evidence from the text to support your answer.
  4. Why does Thomas Paine say that the cause of independent America is also the cause of the whole world?

Chew on This

In Common Sense, Thomas Paine argues that it's impossible to have freedom unless you completely take away all of society's laws.

In Common Sense, we find that freedom for all isn't a political belief at all, but simply the result of good reasoning.

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