A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from June 18, 2018
“Common sense is the knack of seeing things as they are, and doing things as they ought to be done”

"Common sense is the knack of seeing things as they are, and doing things as they ought to be done” is a saying that has been printed on many images. The saying has been frequently credited in the 2000s to American humorist “Josh Billings,” the pen name of Henry Wheeler Shaw (1818-1885), but Billings never said it.

“Common-sense is not that which is common to all; on the other hand, it is somewhat rare. Prof. Stowe, of Andover, used to define it as the ability to see things as they are, and the knack of doing things as they ought to be done” was printed in The Preacher and Homilitic Monthly in November 1880. “Common sense is the knack of seeing things as they are, and doing things as they ought to be done.—C. E. Stowe” was printed in the Detroit (MI) Free Press on December 21, 1890.  American Biblical scholar Calvin Ellis Stowe (1802-1886) is he probable author of the saying.


Wikipedia: Calvin Ellis Stowe
Calvin Ellis Stowe (April 6, 1802 – August 22, 1886) was an American Biblical scholar who helped spread public education in the United States, and the husband and literary agent of Harriet Beecher Stowe.

Wikiquote: Common Sense
Common sense is the knack of seeing things as they are, and doing things as they ought to be done.
. Anonymous, variously attributed to Josh Billings, Thomas Chandler Haliburton, Calvin Ellis Stowe, and Harriet Beecher Stowe but no reliable source has been found.

Google Books
November 1880, The Preacher and Homilitic Monthly, pg. 121:
Common-sense in Style.
Common-sense is not that which is common to all; on the other hand, it is somewhat rare. Prof. Stowe, of Andover, used to define it as the ability to see things as they are, and the knack of doing things as they ought to be done.

HathiTrust Digital Library
The Preacher and His Sermon;
A Treatise on Homiletics

By Rev. John W. Etter
Dayton, OH: United Brethren Publishing House
1883
Pg. 68:
Prof. Stowe, of Andover, used to define it (common sense—ed.) as “the ability to see things as they are, and the knack of doing things as they ought to be done.”

HathiTrust Digital Library
Questions of the Ages
BY Re. Moses Smith
Chicago, IL: Fleming H. Revell
1888
Pg. 81L
Somebody has defined “common sense” as the faculty of seeing things as they are, and doing things as they ought to be done. Practically this is very uncommon sense. Few people in all the world see things as they are, or do things as they ought to be done. “Things are not what they seem, and most people walk by sight.

21 December 1890, Detroit (MI) Free Press, “Common Sense,” pg. 27, col. 2:
Common sense is the knack of seeing things as they are, and doing things as they ought to be done.—C. E. Stowe.

Chronicling America
29 December 1890, Saint Paul (MN) Daily Globe, “Common Sense Talk,” pg. 4, col. 6:
“Common sense is the knack of seeing things as they are, and doing things as they ought to be done.”—C. E. Stowe.

Google Books
A Dictionary of Thoughts
By Tryon Edwards
New York, NY: Cassell Publishing Company
1891
Pg. 77:
Common sense is the knack of seeing things as they are, and doing things as they ought to be done.—C. E. Stowe.

Chronicling America
24 February 1898, Crawford Avalanche (Grayling, MI), pg. 7, col. 5:
Common sense is the knack of seeing things as they are, and doing things as they ought to be done.—C. E. Stowe.

Google Books
14,000 Quips & Quotes:
For Speakers, Writers, Editors, Preachers, and Teachers

By E. C. McKenzie
Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House
1990, ©1980
Pg. 6:
Common sense is the knack of seeing things as they are, and doing things as they ought to be done.

Google Books
Quote Unquote (A Handbook of Quotations)
By M.P. Singh
New Delhi, India: Lotus Press
2006
Pg. 100:
“Common sense is the knack of seeing things as they are, and doing things as they ought to be done.” — Josh Billings

Google Books
The One Year God’s Great Blessings Devotional
By Patricia Raybon
Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
2011
Pg. 83:
Or as the nineteenth-century American populist Josh Billings put it: “Common sense is the knack of seeing things as they are, and doing things as they ought to be done.”

Google Books
ABC of Quotes
By Vincent Thnay
Lulu Press (Lulu.com)
2015
Pg. ?:
Common sense is the knack of seeing things as they are, and doing things as they ought to be done.—Josh Billings

Twitter
Tim Fargo
@tim_fargo
Common sense is the knack of seeing things as they are, and doing things as they ought to be done. - Josh Billings
6:42 PM - 19 Jun 2018

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityWork/Businesses • Monday, June 18, 2018 • Permalink