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How do the writings of Thomas Paine reflect the conditions within the colonies at that time?

The written assignment, worth 30% of your mark) is based on the book Common Sense by Thomas Paine.

Thomas Paine’s book played a pivotal role in the creation of the United States. As an enlightenment thinker and author, Thomas Paine played a key role in the creation of the United States by providing a great deal of philosophical and intellectual support to the revolution. He later went on to play an important role in the French Revolution. Probably most famous for his book Common Sense, Paine provided justification for the revolution and independence of the US. Based on Common Sense, each student will produce a 7 to 15 page research paper answering ONE of the following three questions:

1) Historical texts often act as a window into the period in which they were written. How do the writings of Thomas Paine reflect the conditions within the colonies at that time? Use specific examples to support your case.

2) Some historians argue that Thomas Paine is an excellent example of the enlightenment thinking going on in the 1700s and early 1800s. Using Common Sense as an origin point, and by providing specific examples, examine Thomas Paine’s ideas and thinking. Is he truly an enlightenment thinker?

3) Paine’s Common Sense was widely read by not just the intelligencia of the colonies but by the masses as well. Starting with Common Sense, how did Paine’s ideas help to shape the America that emerged post 1776? How did his writings shape the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and the US in general?

Although Common Sense is the core or foundation of your work, library research and the use of other materials is necessary. The internet is not an acceptable source however.

With the exception of primary documents kept at locations like the National Archives and Record Administration website, the internet is not an acceptable source. The web is notorious for its lack of information and problems. Materials found via JSTOR or Project MEUSE are acceptable because they are coming from peer reviewed journals. Any other internet materials are to be avoided as their use can result in an F for the assignment. Published materials, either book or article format, are a must. The only exception to this would be primary documents found on web sites. Please see the TA or your professor for clarification.


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