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State Armory, Cranston St, from HABS/HAER
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The Elementary Common Sense of Thomas Paine

Monday, 07/28/2008 – 3:30 PM

Reading and Book Signing

Please join PPS and Volunteers in Providence Schools (VIPS) on Monday, July 28 at 3:30 P.M. on the 2nd floor of the Old Brick Schoolhouse, 24 Meeting Street, to meet author Mark Wilensky as he discusses The Elementary Common Sense of Thomas Paine, an adaptation for all ages that makes the words of Thomas Paine and the concepts he espoused widely available to everyone.

Published anonymously by Thomas Paine in January 1776, Common Sense was an instant best-seller, both in the colonies and in Europe. It went through several editions in Philadelphia, and was republished throughout America. Because of it, Paine became internationally famous. Paine's political pamphlet brought the rising revolutionary sentiment into sharp focus by placing blame for the suffering of the colonies directly on the reigning British monarch, George III. The plain language that Paine used spoke to the common people of America and was the first work to openly ask for independence from Great Britain.

The author will also discuss Thomas Paine’s connection to Providence and to John Carter, local Revolutionary War patriot and publisher of the Providence Gazette from 1768 to 1814. Rebellious, and thus treasonous, ideas were published by John Carter during the period when the Gazette was published at 21 Meeting Street, now known as the John Carter House, c.1772, and also as “Shakespeare’s Head.” In 1782 and 1783 John Carter printed in the Providence Gazette “Six New Letters of Thomas Paine; being pieces on the five percent duty, addressed to the Citizens of Rhode Island.” Rhode Island merchants feared that the tax would destroy their trade as Rhode Island was the “least agricultural, most commercial state in the nation.”

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