Study Guide

Common Sense Patriotism

By Thomas Paine


For Thomas Paine, standing up for America and declaring independence isn't just about wanting war; it's about standing up for what's right and creating a new democracy that can inspire freedom all over the world.

Unfortunately, the majority of Americans were waiting on the sidelines when Thomas Paine wrote Common Sense, so Paine knew that he needed to do some convincing if he was ever going to mobilize people into a winning army. And nothing mobilizes people better than building up their sense of patriotism.

Questions About Patriotism

  1. How does Thomas Paine appeal to people's sense of patriotism in this text? What kinds of qualities does he associate with a future America?
  2. Why does Paine sometime pull away from patriotism or nationalism in making his arguments? What does he argue for instead?
  3. What does Paine think of the people who still side with Britain and want America to stay a colony? Are they all the same to him, or are there different types?

Chew on This

In Common Sense, Thomas Paine shows us that anyone who believes in freedom should fight with the American patriots. Anyone else is just a freedom hater.

Thomas Paine tries to avoid feelings of patriotism because he wants people to agree with him only on the basis of common sense. For Paine, patriotism clouds people's judgment.

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