Common Sense by Thomas Paine
Thomas Paine wrote the Common Sense pamphlet between 1775 and 1776 during the American Revolution. The writings contain Paine’s arguments advocating independence for the American colonies from Great Britain, and the creation of a democratic American republic. Paine’s arguments are based on deductive reasoning, where he starts with more general and theoretical reflections concerning the government and religion and then progresses towards specifics of the colonial experience. For instance, Paine begins by highlighting the difference between government and society. He describes society as originating from the people’s wants, which are often inexhaustible, with the aim of promoting happiness positively by uniting the people’s affections to accomplish a common good. Paine also argued that the government is formed because of people’s wickedness. He then adds that the government’s main goal is to promote happiness negatively by restraining the people’s vices in order to protect life, liberty, and property, hence it should be judged depending on the extent to which it achieves this goal.
Paine then progresses by describing an imaginary situation, in which some people have been taken to an island, thus separated from the larger society. They quickly develop close ties with one another and eventually create laws to promote their happiness. In this case, he implied that the American colonist would be much happier if granted an opportunity to create laws that will rule them, especially by creating a system of representation that is free from British interference.
Paine also discusses, in general, the concepts of monarchy and hereditary succession. According to Paine, since all men were naturally born in a state of equality, the distinction between the king and the ruled was unnatural. He progresses by stating that monarchy and hereditary succession angers God, an argument he supported using biblical evidence, in which God was angered by the ancient Jews demand for a king, but allowed them to have one. Paine concluded that the monarchy practice has a sinful origin, thus displeases God. He insisted that hereditary succession was also despicable because even if people decided to have a king, their decision does not legitimize the king’s child to act as a future leader. Paine added that hereditary succession encouraged social evils, for instance, incompetent kings, corruption, and civil war. It is evident that Paine’s arguments supported independence for the American colonies from Great Britain and the creation of a democratic American republic.
Paine, T. (1776, Feb 14). Common sense. B. D. Wilson (Ed.). Fayetteville, NC. : Mundus Publishing.