Much hath been said of the united strength of Britain and the Colonies, that in conjunction they might bid defiance to the world: But this is mere presumption; the fate of war is uncertain, neither do the expressions mean any thing; for this continent would never suffer itself to be drained of inhabitants, to support the British arms in either Asia, Africa, or Europe. Securing freedom and property to all men, and above all things, the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; with such other matter as it is necessary for a charter to contain. Having expressed his disagreement with British reign in America, Paine proceeds to launch a general attack on the British system of government. But the Tumult soon subsides. Wherefore instead of making for peace, it makes against it, and destroys the very foundation it seems to stand upon. Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence; the palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise.
Where nature hath given the one, she hath withheld the other; to America only hath she been liberal to both. Some convenient tree will afford them a State House, under the branches of which the whole Colony may assemble to deliberate on public matters. Paine says the people will be much happier if they are responsible for the creation of the laws that rule them. Europe, and not England, is the parent country of America. But quickly, Paine set his rhetorical abilities to work for the colonial cause against the British government.
Instead, this is more or less a party album geared toward listeners who want to have fun. Hemp flourishes even to rankness, so that we need not want cordage. These are circumstances which demand our attention, and point out the necessity of naval protection. The contest for monarchy and succession, between the houses of York and Lancaster, laid England in a scene of blood for many years. The East and West Indies, Mediterranean, Africa, and other parts, over which Britain extends her claim, make large demands upon her navy.
Who the Author of this Production is, is wholly unnecessary to the Public, as the Object for Attention is the Doctrine itself, not the Man. This is the basis of Paine's work going forward: he is calling Britain's colonial rule into question, and raising important concerns about the validity of the laws imposed upon the colonies. Many of the colonists felt that the King and the Queen of England were appointed by God and to challenge their authority would be a violation of Godly principles. Many circumstances have, and will arise, which are not local, but universal, and through which the principles of all lovers of mankind are affected, and in the event of which their affections are interested. He intended to assist the oppressed colonists and a fair and worthwhile cause, the American Revolutionary War.
The prejudice of Englishmen, in favour of their own government, by King, Lords and Commons, arises as much or more from national pride than reason. However it is needless to spend much time in exposing the folly of hereditary right; if there are any so weak as to believe it, let them promiscuously worship the Ass and the Lion, and welcome. Why is it that we hesitate? In time, these people develop ties with one another, and lawmaking becomes inevitable. Our knowledge is hourly improving. We have it in our power to begin the world over again. Every day wears out the little remains of kindred between us and them; and can there be any reason to hope, that as the relationship expires, the affection will encrease, or that we shall agree better when we have ten times more and greater concerns to quarrel over than ever? Some say that Britain has protected America, and therefore deserves allegiance, but Paine responds that Britain has only watched over America in order to secure its own economic well-being. I know it is difficult to get over local or long standing prejudices, yet if we will suffer ourselves to examine the component parts of the English constitution, we shall find them to be the base remains of two ancient tyrannies, compounded with some new Republican materials.
The bloody-mindedness of the one, shows the necessity of pursuing the doctrine of the other. Paine says the British system is too complex and rife with contradictions, and that the monarchy is granted far too much power. When we are planning for posterity, we ought to remember that virtue is not hereditary. Even the Tories if such beings yet remain among us should, of all men, be the most solicitous to promote it; for as the appointment of committees at first protected them from popular rage, so, a wise and well established form of government will be the only certain means of continuing it securely to them. Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel, and they said, Nay but we will have a king over us, that we may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us, and go out before us and fight our battles.
And once they had that language, there was no stopping them. A pretty business indeed for a man to be allowed eight hundred thousand sterling a year for, and worshipped into the bargain! Do they take within their view all the various orders of men whose situation and circumstances, as well as their own, are to be considered therein? Nothing can be further from truth than this; for if America had only a twentieth part of the naval force of Britain, she would be by far an over-match for her; because, as we neither have, nor claim any foreign dominion, our whole force would be employed on our own coast, where we should, in the long run, have two to one the advantage of those who had three or four thousand miles to sail over, before they could attack us, and the same distance to return in order to refit and recruit. But to expend millions for the sake of getting a few vile acts repealed, and routing the present ministry only, is unworthy the charge, and is using posterity with the utmost cruelty; because it is leaving them the great work to do, and a debt upon their backs from which they derive no advantage. The case is now altered, and our methods of defence ought to improve with our encrease of property. The value of the back lands, which some of the provinces are clandestinely deprived of, by the unjust extension of the limits of Canada, valued only at five pounds sterling per hundred acres, amount to upwards of twenty-five millions, Pennsylvania currency; and the quit-rents, at one penny sterling per acre, to two millions yearly.
Common Sense, by Thomas Paine; Introduction Page 1 Read Books Online, for Free Common Sense Thomas Paine Introduction Page 1 of 1 Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not yet sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour; a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. But that it is imperfect, subject to convulsions, and incapable of producing what it seems to promise, is easily demonstrated. Wherefore, we should be no forwarder an hundred years hence in that branch than we are now; but the truth is, we should be less so, because the timber of the Country is every day diminishing, and that which will remain at last, will be far off or difficult to procure. This whole mess of revolution was called the , and was a huge freaking earth-shaking deal. I Have never met with a man, either in England or America, who hath not confessed his opinion, that a separation between the countries would take place one time or other: And there is no instance in which we have shown less judgment, than in endeavoring to describe, what we call, the ripeness or fitness of the Continent for independance. In the early ages of the world, according to the scripture chronology there were no kings; the consequence of which was, there were no wars; it is the pride of kings which throws mankind into confusion.
Incensed, Paine ordered Bell not to proceed on a second edition, as he had planned several appendices to add to Common Sense. Men read by way of revenge. When the Delegates are met, let a Colony be taken from the whole thirteen Colonies by lot, after which let the Congress choose by ballot a president from out of the Delegates of that Province. I mean not to exhibit horror for the purpose of provoking revenge, but to awaken us from fatal and unmanly slumbers, that we may pursue determinately some fixed object. It is easy getting into holes and corners, and talking of reconciliation: But do such men seriously consider how difficult the task is, and how dangerous it may prove, should the Continent divide thereon? The most sanguine in Britain doth not think so.