Thomas Paine had only lived in America for two years when he began writing Common Sense, but that was enough for him to witness the oppression of the British. His pamphlet, Common Sense, expressed the argument for American independence in a way no one had before and had a significant influence on the Declaration of Independence. It is natural that all people are born with certain inalienable rights, which far from a government can reserve the right to take away. To expand on this concept of inalienable rights, some are given for example by Paine himself, and these are the right to freedom, liberty, and happiness. Paine also goes on to say that a government should not infringe upon these natural rights of the citizens and that the best government governs the least and works to protect said natural rights of the people.
The time for American revolution is now, and Paine says that this revolution would be one, due to having exhausted all other peaceful means of trying to resolve the issues at hand. Paine states that it lies within this revolution that America has a chance at breaking free from the tyrannical grip of Britain. To give examples of the exhausted means already used, Paine calls to mind the Olive Branch petition, and a few other vital documents, that try desperately to receive the attention of King George III; however, each is in vain as the King fails to read or give his attention towards the document. The lack of other means justifies Paine reasons revolution, and his only option left to suggest is to fight for independence.
Throughout Common Sense, Thomas Paine shows that he is against the Monarchical government, and he says that the government type itself is not a reasonable means of ruling a nation. To support this, he sheds light on several reasons in which a monarchy is a bad choice for government. Paine says that all the power is unbalanced and vested in the hands of a single person, which most often leads to the King of the nation using the skills he has, against his people to benefit himself, and those around him. Paine also says that to have a hereditary succession of a monarch is complete nonsense. Paine uses his reason to support this case by showing that a nation is lucky and has a well fit ruler as a King, but who is to say the King’s successor will be best fit for the position of King or Queen of a country. The notion that one ruler is fair and does NOT guarantee that the successor will be as appropriate.
While it is true, some people still wanted peace to be made between Britain, Paine suggests that the colonies (who are already acting more so as independent states) should break away from Britain. There are a few key reasons for which Paine suggests that this is the logical course to follow. First, Paine says that Britain is the parent country, and we are her like her child, but what kind of parent is Britain, if she only aims to abuse and reap the benefits of her child, and not protect her. Paine clearly says that Britain shows no regard for how well her colonies are doing when she is supplying the needs and wants of Britain. For this, Paine says that peace between these colonies and Britain is inconceivable now, and the only option is for the American colonies to fight and break independently from Britain.
In the argument of the Quakers, Paine tries to establish that the reverend is not the single mind of the whole religious society, and each person’s religion comes down to being between that individual and God. Paine says that one must think regarding himself, rather than sit on the shoulders of another man who may otherwise be carried into something issue one may not want to trifle in. Another keynote raised by Paine is that the Quaker’s write regarding the King, however years before, most of the society parted from England to come to the colonies in hopes of avoiding persecution. Paine says that the Quakers must think not in communion of each other, but more individually and use their common sense and reason to figure best out what to do about the events and situations at hand when the time comes for action.
How does Paine incorporate God? Thomas Paine says that God is from whom our natural rights are given. Paine reasons that God is there as a force that drives anyone. And that each person is responsible for leading himself to God. He also uses God to compare to a merciful government, and it shows that while some see Britain as their ruler, their god, this is not true, because Britain is spiteful and unmerciful.
A few years after Common Sense is published and spread around the colonies, Thomas Paine writes yet another pamphlet, called The Crisis. In the Crisis, Paine helps to give moral support and give a confidence boost to those who have already begun to fight back against British tyranny. Paine recognizes that now is the time that will finally., break the tie between the colonies, and Britain. Paine’s goal in writing The Crisis is that he is trying to say now is the time to fight. These times will be the factor in determining whether the colonies will be hit heavy by the tyrannical British, or if the provinces can compete and win this war for independence.
There are vital points Paine states in the first paragraph of The Crisis. First, Thomas Paine is trying to say that there will be those who had spoken out against the British when they were in an excellent job to do so, but now that the fighting has begun; some will not partake in fighting for their liberty and the freedom of the colonies from the British rule. Paine states clearly that this will not be an easy fight, and that ‘These are the time that tries men’s soul (The Crisis, 71).
Foner, Eric. “Tom Paine’s Republic.” In the American Revolution. Ed. Alfred F. Young.
DeKalb, IL: Northern Illinois University Press, 1976.
Keane, John. Tom Paine: A Political Life. Boston: Little, Brown, & Co., 1995.
Miller, John C. Origins of the American Revolution. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1943.
Paine, Thomas. Common Sense. 1776; rpt. Mineola, NY: Dover Press, 1997.
Smith, Page. A New Age Now Begins. Vol. I. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1976.
Woodward, W.E. Tom Paine: America’s Godfather. New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., 1945.
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