Thomas Paine was a Quaker from England who wrote a pamphlet Common Sense which was the ideal paper that led the Americans calling for independence from the Great Britain. When Thomas was writing the book, people in the United States were confused on what decision they should take on the idea of getting freedom and being independent of Britain (Paine, 1776). Common Sense was written in simple English, a language that anyone could understand and it served as an inspiration for America to fight for freedom. This essay will analyze the historical context in which the pamphlet was written, its main arguments and themes.
When Thomas Paine settled in America in 1774, there was hostility between the Great Britain and the Colonies. Any idea or thought of independence was naturally declined. American was so much attached to Britain and hence talking about liberty during this era was like a form of treason. The American grievances were not objected since they only had one objective which was reconciliation. During this time Paine had gotten himself a job at the Philadelphia Newspapers which and this is the time he started writing Common Sense giving it the title Plain Truth. During this period, there was a brink of war between the British soldiers and patriot military. When Indian and French were at war, Britain received generous contributions from all American colonies. The war led to exhaustion of American resources and soldiers, and yet they were not represented in parliament. The situation became worse when Britain began to impose taxes through various acts such as the Currency Act, Quartering Acts, and Sugar Act. Britain required the money so that it could settle the massive debts from the war and it was paying them using these taxes. Forcing the colonies to pay high taxes on almost everything made them resist against the government of British. At this time monarchy was still being practiced in British. England was mishandling the colonies which made Paine write his pamphlet Common Sense, urging the creation of a democratic republic to free them from England. He persuaded the Americans never to reconcile with Britain so as to stop oppressive laws and high taxes.
Themes are the main ideas that the writer is passing to the readers. Just like any writing, the Common Sense has several themes portrayed in all its chapters. They include the following;
Freedom: Liberty is the central theme in Paines work. All he wants to see is a free America where the country can have its self-made constitution and become independent from the Great British. Thomas Paine desires to see a liberated America where the citizens can express and think in whatever manner they wish. He urges Americans to stand and fight for their freedom from England. According to Paine, the fight for war is a tough one, and everyone must be brave and stand at the forefront, not the sidelines. It is the responsibility of everyone all over the world to fight and protect freedom in every way he/she can (Paine, 1776).
Welfare: Thomas Paine poses questions in asking whether the United States have to fight with Britain so that it can throw them out of the country. Paine is the idea that the two nations go into war and want the people of America to join his choice. He warns them that during the war will lose its soldiers and resources and but this should not make them continue succumbing to Britain. At this period many Americans did not want to go to war with Britain since it was going to be bloody and long.
Patriotism: According to Thomas Paine, getting the independence for America should not only be a war. He stood up for America by showing them what is right for America. He gave them the idea of America being a new democracy where every individual is free, and they are treated with respect. This pamphlet inspired the American because they are going to protect their country.
Religion: Religion is a major deal in Thomas Paine Pamphlet. He shows the Americans that there is hope that the United States will have religious freedom. Many people moved to America so that they can have freedom of religion but this is forbidden by the British rules (Paine, 1776).
According to Paine, the government purpose is to restrain the people vices. The government has the role of protecting people in the society. In common sense; Paine urges that the government does not provide life fulfillment to the people and that its only concern is stopping people from misbehaving (Paine, 1776). If everyone in the world behaves ethically, there would be no need for government. Nevertheless, people are imperfect hence the government is necessary to protect their lives and properties. Therefore the primary purpose of the government is to offer security and any accomplishment of a government should be based on this role. Paine says that the government is an unavoidable evil, but he agrees that if a country implements the rules and functions of the governing body it makes live comfortable for everyone.
Paines Arguments against Monarchy
Paine considered the authoritative source of monarchy and came up with an argument that it is a sin. The Jewish asked Prophet Samuel to appoint a king for them, but he warned them that it was against Gods will since God is the only ruler in the whole world. The people insisted and hence Soul was appointed to be their king. He made the Jewish to go through a lot of suffering since God was unhappy with their demands. This shows that God opposes monarchy (Paine, 2004).
He urges that since no man is greater than the other, no man should make his household rule over others forever. On this argument, he was against the monarchy hereditary succession. If a person is granted the honor of being a king, he has no right to pass it to his kids.
Paine urges that kingship fails to exercise the absolute power to its people. He had keenly observed that all the new monarchs of England having been ruling the country illegitimately.
Thomas Paine opposes the hereditary succession since their powers are not based on election, usurpation or selection. According to Paine if a king gets chosen by an election, all other kings will be chosen the same way Nevertheless, if a king is usurped his throne it means that the whole reign is not sincere (Paine, 2004).
Advantages of America over Great Britain in a war
The America had the advantage in that it had the capacity to build a large navy quickly. The navy would be equal to those of British navy.
American soldiers are stronger than their enemy, and the will defeat the British military.
America has the money to buy sufficient weapons and ammunitions required in the war.
The small size of America is an advantage since organizing a small group for a war takes less time to unify them than the large British military
Religion in the colonies
Religious freedom is a major deal in Thomas Paine Pamphlet. He shows the colonies in Americans that there is hope that the United States will have religious freedom. Many people moved rules. According to Paine, God should be the ruler of the people and people should not have a king to rule them since this is a sin. My opinion is that the colonies were free to worship God, but Paine wanted to use freedom of religious so that the colonies can fight for independence.
Paines feelings about religion, independence, government, and monarchies represent the opinions of everyone as a result of what was happening in America. On religion, Paine felt that people were denied the freedom to worship however they wanted (Paine, 2004). This was true since British had imposed several laws that denied them the freedom of religion.
Paine feelings are representative of the whole society
On independence, Paine felt that the American liberty from British is inevitable. These feelings represent the tired society that had decided British will no longer colonize them. They had to make their laws and draft their constitution. Paine expressed the sentiments of the community that monarchies were exercising their power illegitimately to the people. Power from not be passed from one generation to the next in only one family since they will regard the people as slaves and will not treat them with honor. A government in any society has the responsibility to stop any vices commitment by the people. Society feels that if there is anarchy in society, people will tend to do bad things, and this can destroy human lives and properties (Paine, 2004). The government plays a significant role in protecting the society from these vices.
Being a colonist in America, I strongly feel that common sense is what the American needed to open their eyes and fight for their independence. I believe in Paines arguments on freedom, religion, and monarchy. But I do differ with him on his argument that the government does not work to fulfill the desires of people in the society. This is because the government builds roads schools and hospitals to offer the people a happy and comfortable life. The most compelling argument is his persuasion for independence that made the American soldiers fight for Britain, not for their properties but liberty.
http://www.gutenberg.org/files/147/147-h/147-h.htmPaine, T. (2004). Common sense. Broadview Press.
Paine, T. (1776). Common Sense. Addressed to the Inhabitants of America, 31.
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