The Statewide Newspaper in Education Program

of the New Jersey Newspaper Foundation

Thomas Paine Guide

NIE Home Page

New Jersey NIE Web Pages

Committee Meetings

Committee Members

National NIE Resources

Copyright 2007 New Jersey Newspaper Foundation. All Rights Reserved.

Serialized Story Guide for Teachers, Students and Families

By Antonette Bomentre-Walter and Chris Yatchyshyn

Chapter 4 - The Secret is Revealed


ambitious - adjective; having a desire to achieve a particular goal

petition - noun; a formal request

parliament - noun; the supreme legislative body of the British government

stifled - verb; repressed, stopped

ordinary - adjective; to be expected: usual or of common quality, rank, or ability

debate - verb; to formally discuss an idea, question, or motion by parties with opposing views

seething - verb; to become violently agitated

crucial - adjective; decisive; trying, severe

independence - noun; the quality or state of self-governing

Recalling the Facts

1. Where was the young man in the story sent to work?

2. It was discovered that the young man could do what very well?

3. What did the other tax collectors ask the young man to do?

4. Where did the young man have to take the petition?

5. What language was Anna's father teaching her?

6. Who did Anna think wrote Common Sense?

7. What was the name of the debating club that Thomas Paine belonged to in England?

Comprehension Questions

1. Who was surprised that he could put his thoughts in order? Why did it matter?

2. Whom did Thomas Paine meet in Parliament? Why was that important?

3. In Parliament, who considered changes in the English laws?

4. How old was Paine when he succeeded at his first work and at what had he previously failed?

5. What were the crucial skills that Paine possessed and what was the whispered word?

In the News

Independence is as important today for some countries as it was in Thomas Paine's day. Search the news for examples of places still fighting for independence. How are they going about it? At what cost? What crucial skills may they be lacking to accomplish their goal? Find your local newspaper: Link to the directory of New Jersey newspapers OR Link to the directory of Pennsylvania newspapers.

Take It to the Real World

Paine explained that "there were always those wars that England waged, and each time they drafted the Americans to fight in their wars." It "was not very fair and it cost much money." Today the United States is engaged in a war filled with controversy. Look for a news story, photo, cartoon, etc. that makes reference to the war. Take a stand and write a response. Find your local newspaper: Link to the directory of New Jersey newspapers OR Link to the directory of Pennsylvania newspapers.

Make a Prediction

What will happen in the new colonies once the whisper of "independence" is spoken?

Essay Questions

  1. In this story, Paine mentions wars that the colonists did not want to fight. What were some of those wars? Why did the colonist object to fighting those wars?
  2. "The English Parliament was taxing the colonies to pay for their protection." Assess this statement in light of the comments in this story.

Answers to Comprehensive Questions and Recalling the Facts

Return to the Table of Contents

Return to the Thomas Paine Home Page