Common Sense was an incendiary document, an attempt to change peoples' minds, influence their opinions, persuade them to want independence and a call to action. In arguing for American independence, Paine criticized the monarchy and argued that people are born into a state of equality. An advocate of natural rights theory, Paine claimed that there are no natural rulers among men (Bill of Rights Institute, 2010). He then proposed a system of representative government for the colonies. Finally, Paine stated his reasons why the time was right for the break from England. The pamphlet was published and widely read (Bill of Rights Institute, 2010). According to Esly Argueta, Congress approved the Declaration of Independence months later, and Common Sense is believed to have greatly influenced support for the cause. The Declaration of Independence was more tranquil and sensible, beginning with an outline of the British and American perception of the purpose of government, then explaining the reasons why the colonies had decided to declare themselves independent and then finishing with a long list of perceived abuses of King George III. Thomas Jefferson uses
Thomas Paine believed that the selection of Kings was unnatural because people are born into being Kings and nothing assures that the person will be a good leader. Just because your father was a good leader does not mean that you will be one. Paine states that nature would disapprove it, and that we should not give mankind “an ass for a lion”1. He says that when we were created we were all created equal. The British had so much control no one could do anything about it. They could not overcome the government and it made the colonists feel useless. This is exactly why Paine criticized the monarchial government because they were indeed doing everything unfairly and doing it only to benefit themselves.
1. The problems that Thomas Paine sees with the British monarchy involve its straying from ideal government, the unjust placement of one individual above all others, and its hereditary aspect. The problems that Thomas Paine sees with King George III in particular are his personal transgressions against liberty. Thomas Paine, firstly views government as “but a necessary evil” (15), and therefore it should be both as limited as possible and also tied to the more positive society. The ideal form of government, thus according to Paine, is a simple republic where the elected are forced to be accountable to their electors (16). The British monarchy fails in all accounts; not only does the prescence of a monarchy at all eliminate the accountability of a republic, but the complicatedness of the British monarchy system makes it worse in this aspect than even other monarchies. Although absolute monarchies are horrid in that they give no power to the people, they are still simpler than the British monarchy; this makes issues much more difficult to handle in the British monarchy (17). The other problems that Paine has with the British monarchy apply to monarchies at large. Paine argues that the placement of one person above all others is an unnatural divide; there is no explanation for the division of people into “KINGS and SUBJECTS” (22) such as there are in other forms of division that humans live with. If it does not make sense to place one individual above all others, then such should most certainly not be law; therefore, from this logic, monarchy, which is entirely based on the principle of placing one person (and their relatives) above all others, is an invalid and unnatural form of government. Of course, some people could, arguably, have earned the admiration and respect of their peers through important action, and thus be deserving of a leadership position. In a republic, by listening to their electors, the elected earn their right to lead. However, the hereditary monarchy removes this earning of the right to lead, and Paine takes issue with that. There is no guarantee that the descendants of a good leader will also be good leaders, and therefore the government of a country should never be left to heredity (29).
Although, Paine thought that individual integrity was very indistinct and unreasonable. Paine considered his individual rights to be violated by the government… The main goal that Thomas Paine had for writing Common Sense was for America to break away from Great Britain and become an independent country.
As the year 1776 began in the American colonies, tension with King George III’s England was at perhaps an all-time high. Americans were frustrated with the actions of their rulers overseas. Taxes and trade restrictions had been placed on them, and British and mercenary soldiers occupied their towns and cities. There had even been fighting at Lexington, Concord, and Bunker Hill. As America grew, England’s hold on it tightened, and a few voices began speaking of independence. The loudest and most convincing of these belonged to Thomas Paine, born in England and living in Philadelphia. His pamphlet, Common Sense, expressed the argument for American independence in a way no one had before and had a great influence on the Declaration of
Thomas Paine is not an advocate of monarchy. In fact, he called monarchy institutionalized robbing. In his work Rights of Man, the political philosopher contrasts old government with new government, defining the former as hereditary and the latter as a representative system. Specifically, Paine had two major objections to monarchy; first, he argued that a hereditary government is a imposition on humans, and secondly, “it is inadequate to the purpose for which government is necessary” (Paine 113). A hereditary government unfairly binds future generations, this would make the monarchy illegitimate because a government must have continuous consent in order to be legitimate. If a monarch inherits a kingdom he too inherits its people, Paine says to inherit people is to treat them as farm animals. To sum up this point, Paine exclaims that a hereditary monarchy reduces humans to beasts.
If Thomas Paine never published Common Sense Americans today would not only fail to fully grasp the many aspects as to why colonist wanted independence so bad, but it also might have taken American’s many more years before they earned their independence, and it is possible that America may not have ever got its independence. Common Sense was a crucial turn for American’s opinion against Britain. It was key factor in pursue colonies to fight for complete independence. So if Common Sense was never written, American’s today would be oblivious to how the colonist felt back then.
1) What reasons did Thomas Paine give in his pamphlet Common Sense for why the American Colonies should declare full and complete independence from Great Britain in 1776?
Today we look back at the American Revolution and picture a united people fighting for inalienable rights, but to grasp the impact that Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” had upon his contemporaries we must understand the situation in the American colonies in 1776. When Paine wrote his pamphlet, the colonist and The Parliament in London, were almost 10 years into a debate over the rights of limited self-government by the colonies. In the months preceding the publication of Paine’s pamphlet the situation had steadily worsened until the April 19th, 1775 armed confrontation between Massachusetts colonists and British Army soldiers. By the end of that day, blood had been shed by both sides, and armed colonists placed the British garrison in Boston under siege. Despite this violence, most colonists viewed the events as a part of a struggle between Englishmen that would be resolved with the continued allegiance of the colonies to the Crown, but with more favorable treatment from London. It was with this popular mindset throughout the colonies, that Paine would deliver his “Common Sense” pamphlet arguing for complete independence from England. Paine understood that to make his argument resonate he needed to appeal to the public in a manner that had yet to be done.
Although Thomas Paine wrote Common Sense to express displeasure towards the british regime, his greater purpose was to rally the colonist against the tyranny of the mother country, therefore establishing inalienable rights that would become the groundwork of the United States.
Thomas Paine argued for the need for the independence of the American colonies from Great Britain. In the beginning, he wrote about general theories of government, focusing then on the specific situation in the colonies
Making people understand a serious situation like America’s independence is not easy, but Thomas Paine was able to do so through his book, Common Sense. Thomas Paine was able to communicate his ideas to common simple farmers and to the high class intellectuals very easily. He lived at the time of the American Revolution, and Common Sense is one of his main publications that urged Americas’ independence from the British. Born in 1937, Thomas Paine was originally an English man to his father, and he holds radical views on religion which caused him criticism and so little people attending his funeral when he died at 1809. Paine live in a critical time, he lived in the time period that is the most
Thomas Paine was responsible for some of the most influential works of the revolution. Paine’s pamphlet Common Sense was a very crucial part to America and its movement of independence from Britain. Paine was effective with his writings by being very plain. He wanted both farmers and officials to understand what he was talking about and be able to comprehend his ideas. Paine wanted to put his ideas out to the people of the American colonies so that they could understand it just by reading and not have to analyze and decipher what he was really trying to get across. He wanted to let the colonist know that there was no more room for talking about a split from English rule but it was time for the colonies to unite and take up arms against their British oppressors.
Scott Liell’s book 46 pages: Thomas Paine, Common Sense, and the Turning Point to Independence ultimately describes Thomas Paine’s life and showcases the struggles he went through and the outside forces that influenced him to write Common Sense. Liell’s book also expresses the importance of Common Sense, stating that it is the “single most influential political work in American history” (16). Paine was born and raised in England, in which the King and his monarchial rule would have evident influence in his later