Common Sense and the Revolution in Maryland
In 1776, Thomas Paine, sensing the increased American spirit of rebellion
following the Boston Tea Party, published his ideas on American independence in
a pamphlet called Common Sense. Paine challenged commonly held beliefs
about the relationship between the American colonies and Great Britain. He not
only argued that the colonies had the right to revolt against a government that
taxed them without representation, but that there was no reason for the American
colonies to remain dependent upon Great Britain.
I challenge the warmest advocate for reconciliation, to show, a single
advantage that this continent can reap, by being connected with Great Britain.
I repeat the challenge, not a single advantage is derived. Our corn will fetch
its price in any market in Europe, and our imported goods must
be paid for buy them where we will.
But the injuries and disadvantages we sustain by that connection, are
without number; and our duty to mankind I at large, as well as to ourselves,
instruct us to renounce the alliance: Because, any submission to, or
dependance on Great Britain, tends directly to involve this continent in
European wars and quarrels; and sets us at variance with nations, who would
otherwise seek our friendship, and against whom, we have neither anger nor
complaint As Europe is our market for trade, we ought to form no partial
connection with any part of it. It is the true interest of America to steer
clear of European contentions, which she never can do, while by her dependance
on Britain, she is made the make-weight in the scale of British politics.
Common Sense was widely circulated throughout the American colonies. Written in a prose that sparked debate in
taverns and street corners, Common Sense serves as an early example of the
influence of the colonial press on public opinion.
National History Standards
Materials compiled in this document can be used by educators to fulfill the
History Standards for Grades K-4:
Topic 3: The History of the United States: Democratic Principles and
Values and the People from Many Cultures Who Contributed to Its Cultural,
Economic, and Political Heritage
STANDARD 4: How democratic values came to be, and how
they have been exemplified by people, events, and symbols.
Standard 4A: The student understands how the United
States government was formed and the nationís basic democratic principles set
forth in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
K-4: Explain that the U.S. government was formed by
English colonists who fought for independence from England. [Explain causes and
3-4: Identify and explain the basic principles that Americans set
forth in the documents that declared the nationís independence from England
(the Declaration of Independence) and that created the new nationís government
(U.S. Constitution). [Demonstrate and explain the influence of ideas]
Standard 4B: The student understands ordinary people
who have exemplified values and principles of American democracy.
K-4: Identify ordinary people who have believed in the
fundamental democratic values such as justice, truth, equality, the rights of
the individual, and responsibility for the common good, and explain their
significance. [Assess the importance of the individual in history]
sense; addressed to the inhabitants of America, on the following
interesting subjects. I. Of the origin and design of government in
general, with concise remarks on the English Constitution. II. Of monarchy
and hereditary succession. III. Thoughts on the present state of American
affairs. IV. Of the present ability of America, with some miscellaneous
AUTHOR: Thomas Paine (1737Ė1809)
CREATED/PUBLISHED: Philadelphia: printed. And sold by W. and
T. Bradford ; Bartleby.com, 1999
to the King from Congress, known as the Olive Branch Petition.
CREATED/PUBLISHED: July 8, 1775.
SOURCE: Documents for the Classroom Series, MSA SC 2221-2-15
SOURCE: National Archives
DESCRIPTION: Constitution of Maryland, printed first
NOTES: From John Dickinson's papers.
SOURCE: Documents for the Classroom Series, MSA SC 2221-4-7
REPOSITORY: Original owned by the Pennsylvania Historical
of Rights and Constitution of Maryland, as adopted by the 9th Convention,
NOTES: Text taken from Hansonís Laws of Maryland, 1787.
SOURCE: Documents for the Classroom Series, MSA SC
REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives
Catherine Goddard's printing of the Declaration of Independence,
CREATED/PUBLISHED: Baltimore, 1777
SOURCE: Documents for the Classroom Series, MSA SC
Additional Media Resources
Liberty! The American Revolution. From PBS
Paine: Citizen of the World. From the BBC
Independence: Drafting the Documents. Online exhibition from the Library
Additional Instructional Resources
Indignant Protest to Hesitant Revolutionaries: Maryland and the American
Revolution, 1765-1776, MSA SC 2221-1-2: Includes issues of the Maryland
Gazette at the time of the Stamp Act Crisis. Also includes the account of the
burning of the Peggy Stewart, the Olive Branch Petition signed by three of
Maryland's signers of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson's original
draft of the Declaration of Independence, and letters from a Maryland soldier at
the Battle of Long Island.
the News, 1765-1775, MSA SC 2221-1-21. Events leading
to the American Revolution are seen through news reports in the Maryland
Gazette. Samuel Chase's broadside which the Gazette refused to print
is included. The newspapers are also an excellent source for the study of
eighteenth century life.
It All Down: The Art of Constitution Making for the State and the Nation,
1776-1833 MSA SC 2221-1-4
Includes documents leading to the Maryland Declaration of Rights and the
first State Constitution, as well as those which relate to Maryland's role in
the creation and ratification of the proposed first twelve amendments to the
U.S. Constitution (two were never ratified). It traces the subsequent definition
of such individual rights as the right to hold office by non-Christians as
defined by constitutional amendment (the Jew Bill) and due process as defined by
the courts (Barron v. Baltimore).
Multitude of Amendments, Alterations and Additions. From the National Park
Service, Independence National Historical Park.
from the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention, 1774-1789.
From American Memory.
Common Sense Lesson Plan.
From the New York Historical Society
Bonwick, C.C. "An English Audience for American Revolutionary
The Historical Journal, Vol. 19, No. 2. (Jun., 1976): 355-374.
Ferguson, Robert A. "The Commonalities of Common
William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd Ser., Vol. 57, No. 3. (Jul., 2000): 465-504.
Greene, Jack P. "Paine, America, and the
Political Consciousness." Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 93, No.
1. (Spring, 1978): 73-92.
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American History in Maryland is a collaborative partnership of the Maryland State Archives and the Center for History Education (CHE), University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), and the following sponsoring school systems: Anne Arundel County Public Schools, Baltimore City Public School System, Baltimore County Public Schools, and Howard County Public Schools.
Other program partners include the Martha Ross Center for Oral History, Maryland Historical Society, State Library Resource Center/Enoch Pratt Free Library, with assistance from the National Archives and Records Administration and the Library of Congress. The program is funded through grants from the U.S. Department of Education.
This document packet was researched and developed by Nancy Bramucci.