Thomas Paine Common Sense
In result of The Seven Years’ War Britain controlled American trade and territory. In order to pay for the expenses of the war several taxation acts and military presence were implemented such as the Sugar Act, Stamp Act, Currency Act, Quartering Act and the presence of British troops at the colonies. Consequently, Americans who thought these actions violated their political and constitutional liberties opposed these policies with petitions, boycotts, and resistance strategies known as the Imperial Crisis.
In January 1776 Thomas Paine’s Common Sense was composed to convince Americans of the need for independence from British rule and establishment of democracy. This pamphlet was written in common language to appeal to lower class citizens, rather than written in Latin, which was aimed towards the small elite. Also, Paine made several biblical references to appeal to his the people and King George III, “the Pharaoh of England” (Thomas Paine, Common Sense). Ironically, Thomas Paine was an English immigrant; however he offered a good perspective on the importance of American independence.
Thomas Paine, John Adams and Dr. Benjamin Rush consisted of a group who fought for American independence by constructing the pamphlet. Attacking the English government, Paine states, “Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil in its worst state an in tolerable one; for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamities is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer!
The main point in Thomas Paine’s Common Sense was independence from British rule and the establishment of democracy. To build his case Paine points out many faults in the English government consisting of its complexity, the absurd configuration of monarchy and the principles of hereditary rule. Paine expresses that the English government is based off of “two ancient
tyrannies… monarchical tyranny in the person of the king [and] aristocratical tyranny in the persons of the peers…” (Thomas Paine, Common Sense) imposing that England’s government is ineffective. He argues that a democratic system based on continual elections and rights of the people protected by a written constitution would be more beneficial to society. To strengthen the concept of democracy, Paine speaks of a hypothetical society brought up in an isolated part of the world, away from other inhabitants.
This supposed society represented the first people. Thomas Paine claims that some of its people will have many accomplishments other will not; thus through hunger, disease, misfortune and death it is inevitable that the people will set up some form of government that “…will establish a common interest with every part of the community, they will mutually and naturally support each other, and on this (not on the unmeaning name of king) depends the strength of government, and the happiness of the governed” (Thomas Paine, Common Sense).
This statement reassures his beliefs towards democracy while showing how pointless English rule is to society. Thomas Paine is attempting to promote American independence with this document by explaining the benefits of democracy, in doing so he is demeaning the English government.
Paine emphasizes the prejudices the English may have had by stating, “And as a man, who is attached to a prostitute, is unfitted to choose or judge of a wife, so any prepossession in favor of a rotten constitution of government will disable us from discerning a good one” (Thomas Paine, Common Sense). Consequences/Causation/Conclusions: Although these ideas were not original, Paine directed Common Sense towards common people writing simply are directly thus expanding the public sphere, where political discussion took place.
This document contributed to the separation of the colonies and Great Britain. Shortly after, the United States was declared an independent nation and on July 4, 1776, Declaration of Independence written by Thomas Jefferson and revised by the Congress was approved. This document reveals that American society is reluctantly involved in Britain’s wars and altercations resulting in bad relationships with other countries that would otherwise look for friendship.
As well as Britain’s right to tax the colonies and the belief that Britain was a corrupt society where freedom was dwindling. The significance of this primary source in history is to inform Americans how independence was born. This document, with and intense call for independence, influenced the all Americans from the Founding Fathers to the wealthy elite, the middle and lower class, who had joined Washington’s army, giving way to an expanding public sphere and a new way of life.