“I’ve Been Reading *Common Sense* By Thomas Paine…”

Common Sense

I continue to suffer from Hamilaria.  The disease kicked-in again yesterday in one of the small-group seminars associated with my U.S. History to 1865 survey course.  All the students in this seminar happen to be female.  Yesterday we read and discussed Thomas Paine’s Common Sense.

So I couldn’t resist:

4 thoughts on ““I’ve Been Reading *Common Sense* By Thomas Paine…”

  1. John Shaw,

    I just finished reading the Van Dyke link you furnished——-very interesting how he makes references to ancient Israel’s kings to disavow England’s! The arguments might seem a bit forced today, but I am sure they resonated with more than a few colonists.
    Van Dyke did a good job in pointing out Paine’s disingenuous use of the Bible. After all, he would use any tool in the rhetorical shed to convey his message. Were he alive today he’d be clever enough to find other supporting justifications.


  2. Paine’s “Common Sense” is full of biblical references. He knew how to appeal to his predominantly Protestant audience. As noted by a man Professor Fea knows well, check out “Common Sense,” Thomas Paine, and the Bible by Tom Van Dyke http://americancreation.blogspot.com/2013/01/by-tom-van-dyke-perhaps-most-amazing.html. As pointed out by TVD, Paine wanted to demolish any Christian defense for the divine right of monarchs, while providing a Christian rational for a republican form of gov’t.

    IMHO Fast’s book is a decent novel, but does not provide an accurate history of Paine or the evolution of his ideas. For a quick read I recommend Thomas Paine: Firebrand of the Revolution (Oxford Portraits) by Harvey J. Kaye.


    • John Shaw,

      Thanks for the book tip. I will try to locate the book this week.

      I am not surprised at your assertion that Paine used his knowledge of the Bible to appeal to Protestants of his day. Even freethinkers of that era knew the Bible better than many professing Christians today.

      Your posting made me recall another book I picked up at a friends of the library sale but have not read. It is entitled The Trouble with Tom by Paul Collins. It seems to deal primarily with what became of Paine’s remains if I am judging rightly. Collins is a journalist and not a professional historian so the books looks like light reading. Do you know anything about it?

      While I am on the subject of journalists and Tom Paine, do you recommend the book by the late Christopher Hitchens, a great admirer of Paine?



  3. They look like a nice group of women, John. They are probably a pleasure to teach. I trust you innoculated them against Paine’s Deism or variations thereof. As I recall, however, most of that was in The Age of Reason.

    One of my late uncles fancied himself a freethinker. When he died a few years ago I was responsible for going through his books and disposing of them. Most went to the local library, but I did keep a copy of Paine’s major works as well as an historical novel called Citizen Paine by Howard Fast. Fast was a rather left-of-center author from the middle 20th Century period. I read the actual Paine writings and still intend to get around to Fast’s book in time. It’s probably an interesting novel, but I can affirm beforehand that I won’t be turned into a diest, atheist, or Democrat by it. 🙃


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