Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine
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  • Rush encouraged Paine to write a pamphlet on independence, though he cautioned him not to use that word. 
  • Paine had arrived in the largest and most prosperous city in colonial America. Philadelphia was a bustling place of around 30,000 people and the third largest port in the British Empire.
  • Paine soon landed a job as the editor of a new magazine. He had already done some writing in England. But it was here that he discovered his true calling as a writer. 
  • Paine found a publisher who agreed to print a thousand copies as a pamphlet. It was 46 pages long. The pamphlet did not have Paine's name on the cover, but simply said, “written by an Englishman.” On January 10, 1776, Common Sense appeared in bookstores.
  • Paine recognized that the main obstacle to independence among colonists was their continued loyalty to the king and crown. So he set out to demolish that loyalty. As one Paine biographer wrote, “Common Sense could be considered the first American self-help book, the help being for those who could never imagine life without a monarch.”
  • Although Paine's words were powerful, his ideas were not new. Many other colonial leaders, such as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams, had expressed similar thoughts. But Paine was able to put those ideas together in a single, compelling argument that spoke to a mass audience. 
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