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Common Sense

Page history last edited by Mr. Hengsterman 7 years, 8 months ago

 

 

Thomas Paine has the audacity to speak about the necessity and possibility of Independence
and stupidity and lack of legitimacy of Monarchy

 

 

Thomas Paine’s Common Sense
January 1776

 

Thomas Paine’s pamphlet Common Sense summed up the feelings of many Americans about Britain. In it, Paine urged open revolt against the “Royal Brute of England.” Within months, 100,000 copies of Common Sense had been sold in the colonies,

which had a population of two and a half million – many of them illiterate

 

 

 

 

 

"As much hath been said of the advantages of reconciliation, which, like an agreeable dream, hath passed away and left us as we were, it is but right, that we should examine the contrary side of the argument, and inquire into some of the many material injuries which these colonies sustain, and always will sustain, by being connected with, and dependent on Great- Britain: To examine that connexion and dependence, on the principles of nature and common sense, to see what we have to trust to, if separated, and what we are to expect, if dependent.

I have heard it asserted by some, that as America hath flourished under her former connection with Great  Britain, that the same connexion is necessary towards her future happiness, and will always have the same effect. Nothing can be more fallacious than this kind of argument. We may as well assert that because a child has thrived upon milk, that is never to have meat, or that the first twenty years of our lives is to become a precedent for the next twenty. But even this is admitting more than is true, for I answer roundly, that America would have flourished as much, and probably much more, had no European power had anything to do with her. The commerce, by which she hath enriched herself, are the necessaries of life, and will always have a market while eating is the custom of Europe. . . . As to government matters, it is not in the power of Britain to do this continent justice: The business of it will soon be too weighty, and intricate, to be managed with any tolerable degree of convenience, by a power so distant form us, and so very ignorant of us; for if they cannot conquer us, they cannot govern us. To be always running three or four thousand miles with a tale or a petition, waiting four or five months for an answer, which when obtained requires five or six more to explain it in, will in a few years be looked upon as folly and childishness – There was a time when it was proper, and there is a proper time for it to cease.

Small islands not capable of protecting themselves, are the proper objects for kingdoms to take under their care, but there is something very absurd, in supposing a continent to be perpetually governed by an island. In no instance hath nature made the satellite larger than its primary planet, and as England and America, with respect to each other, reverses the common order of nature, it is evident they belong to different systems; England to Europe, America to itself." [Common Sense, 1776]

 

Why do you think Paine called his pamphlet “Common Sense”?

How do you think the title might have affected the force of his arguments?

List several arguments Paine presents in this excerpt.

This excerpt contains two powerful analogies.  List them?

How do they work to strengthen Paine’s arguments?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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