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What motivated the colonies to fight for independence?. Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, John Locke and Natural Rights, and the Declaration of Independence. Imagine…. You are a colonist living in Georgia on April 19, 1775 when the Revolutionary War starts at Lexington and Concord.

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what motivated the colonies to fight for independence

What motivated the colonies to fight for independence?

Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, John Locke and Natural Rights, and the Declaration of Independence

  • You are a colonist living in Georgia on April 19, 1775 when the Revolutionary War starts at Lexington and Concord.
  • Would you be willing to leave your family, home and job to fight the British? Why or why not?
When the Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence on

By July 4,1776, most colonists favored full separation from England.


However, 6 months prior to signing of Declaration of Independence, many colonists did not favor Revolution.

It was believed that Parliament in London could resolve the disputes in a satisfactory way with the colonies.

British Parliament


in your group discuss the following
In your group, discuss the following:
  • Why would the colonists want to settle their dispute with England in a peaceful way?
  • What risks would they be taking by going to war?
Eight months after Lexington and Concord (1775), onJanuary 10, 1776, a man recently arrived from England named Thomas Paine published a pamphlet called Common Sense.



Thomas Paine in “Common Sense” wrote:

“I offer nothing more than simple facts,

plain arguments, and common sense.”

..Colonists did not owe anything to England

In his simple language, Paine wrote the unspoken thoughts of the average colonist

He gave and gave them the courage to accept the radical idea of self-rule.

“Every thing that is right and reasonable pleads for separation. The blood of the slain, the weeping voice of nature cries, ‘Tis Time To Part.” – Thomas Paine


For the first time, the notion of independence was in the minds of every yeoman (loyal worker) in the colonies and a new idea of a separate nationality was becoming a reality.


Thomas Paine was the first man to string together these five words:

“The United States of America.”


Common Sense is a brilliant piece of propaganda (information that is spread to promote a certain idea) from the American Revolutionary period.


Common Sense insulted the enemy, explained the reasons for revolt, and motivated the masses to act.

It greatly affected the delegates at the First Continental Congress to propose a formal document declaring independence

It also clearly divided the colonists

into two distinct groups:

Loyalists – Colonists who remain

Loyal to England

Patriots – Colonists who rebel

against King George III


paine took many of his ideas from john locke an english philosopher
Paine took many of his ideas from John Locke, an English Philosopher
  • 1690: Locke publishes “Two Treatises on Government”
  • Two main ideas
    • All people have the natural rights to life, liberty and property
    • Government is an agreement between the ruler and the ruled. The ruler must enforce the laws and protect the people. If a ruler violates the people's natural rights, the people have a right to rebel.
again turn to your partner
At what point would you be willing to overthrow your government? What might they do wrong that would make you fight?Again, Turn to your partner
think pair share
Do you think that the colonists SHOULD HAVE revolted? Did England do anything so wrong that a revolution was “just” and “necessary”?Think, pair, share
independence is declared 6 months after common sense is published
Independenceis declared 6 months after Common Sense is published!!
  • The Continental Congress feels it has enough support of the people to officially declare independence!
  • Congress appoints a "Committee of Five", (John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Robert R. Livingston, and Roger Sherman) to draft a declaration of independence

ShermanFranklinJeffersonAdams Livingston

june 1776
June 1776
  • Thomas Jefferson, the youngest member of the Continental Congress, is chosen to do the first draft
  • The document was to include details as to why the colonies were breaking away from Britain
  • It is said that he wrote it quickly

June 28, 1776—Jefferson finishes the draft

  • July 2, 1776 – Congress votes that the colonies were free and independent states.”
  • July 4, 1776—Congress approves the wording of the Declaration and 56 members sign it – John Hancock putting his signature first

Oertel's painting Pulling Down the Statue of King George III, N.Y.C., depicts citizens destroying a statue of King George after the Declaration was read in New York City on July 9, 1776.

declaration of independence
Declaration of Independence
  • What does it say?
  • How does it say it?
  • What does it lead to