Common Sense by Thomas Paine is notoriously one of the most empowering and widely read pieces of early American literature. It was a pamphlet written in 1776 that advocated for American independence. Within this 35 page work, Paine expresses his feelings for numerous topics relating to why America needs to be free from England. In Common Sense, Thomas Paine talks about England’s government, why he believes the colonies should separate from England, and what kind of government they establish.
Paine’s feelings towards England’s government are made clear throughout Common Sense. He begins the pamphlet by describing the difference between a government and a society, stating that a government is negative and a society is positive. Paine then continues to critique England’s government, saying that it is “so exceedingly complex” that when a problem occurs, no one will be able to agree on one specific cause. Next, he begins to talk about the contradictions within the English constitution. He expresses his discontent for the monarchical system and the way the power is distributed. Paine believes that the monarchy has too much power and there is not a proper way of checking it.
Thomas Paine has a desire for the colonies to separate from England, and he gives logical reasoning as to why they should do so. He tells about the argument that America has “flourished” under Great Britain and that they must stay under them in order to have “future happiness,” but quickly turns that down. Paine rebuts the claim by saying that America would have flourished as much, if not more, with no European help. He argues that though many boast about the protection we have been granted from England, their intentions were not to protect America, but for their own selfish needs and protection. Paine continues by saying that “our plan is commerce” and that once the colonies become independent from Great Britain, then commerce will be able to be made all throughout Europe. He claims that only problems will occur if we stay with England and that we must become independent to maintain peace.
Lastly, Thomas Paine explains what type of government he believes the colonies should have once they become independent. He believes that the colonies should have a democracy in which there is equal representation. Paine has confidence that this type of government is superior to a monarchy. He says that having “members of the Congress, Assemblies, or Conventions” who have had “experience in national concerns, will be able and useful counsellors” and “will have a truly legal authority.” Paine claims that “a government of our own is our natural right,” and that the colonies should split from the corrupt and evil British monarchy and create their own independent government instead.
Thomas Paine was a profound leader who strived to give the colonies the freedom that they needed. He wrote Common Sense as a way to reveal to the colonies how greatly they needed their independence. This short pamphlet contains an incredible insight as to Paine’s mindset during this time in history. Thomas Paine was arguably one of the most influential political activists of his time and his impact had a part in the America we have today.
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