How important was it for America to gain its independence from England? Thomas Paine, an English radicalist, thought that it was extremely important. Important enough to write a pamphlet on why American Colonist should have independence. At the time, 1776, many Americans felt the same way about Paine’s view on independence, but never took any action on it. Common Sense was published in 1776 as a way to engage people in certain political issues at hand. It was written by Thomas Paine to show that a break with England was only inevitable but justified. In Common Sense, Paine tries to convince people that the time for debate was over and that it was now time for American Colonists to raise arms against England. Paine tries to use a style of presenting this information that will not only convince but inspire or motivate American Colonists and raise up against the king.
Thomas Paine divides Common Sense into four sections. First and second talking about how a government should be set up, and why a monarchy is wrong and how the effects of hereditary succession are negative. Paine starts the second half of the pamphlet on the natural rights human beings have. He ends it by talking about the capabilities of America and how the Colonists would be able to defeat Great Britain. Paine actually assumed an American victory.
Knowing that England was very powerful at the time, people were probably afraid and thought that it would be impossible to overthrow the monarchy. It was definitely reasonable for the Colonists to believe that this incredible feat of victory was in fact impossible. Paine had to be pretty stinkin’ bold to make an assumption of victory. The hardest thing for Paine was probably not just convincing people to believe that a monarchy was wrong and independence was a must, getting these people to raise arms. That, I would argue, is the main reason for this pamphlet.
Thomas Paine’s Common Sense brings awareness to the fact that the way of life for the American Colonists was not true and natural. It calls the lovers of all mankind to their duties as human beings to stand up for their natural rights. Common Sense was definitely an effective piece of propaganda for encouraging American Colonists to raise arms against Great Britain because of Paine’s unique and bold style of writing, and his reasons for gaining independence.
Thomas Paine thought the English Constitution to be extremely complicated and contradictory. In the Constitution of England, there are supposed to be three powers that have the ability of checking one another, the king, the peers and the commons. This is a contradiction to the idea of a king because it gives commons the power to check the king, which is absurd saying that the king cannot be trusted alone, and that the commons is more knowledgeable than the king himself.
On the same note this empowers afterwards the king to check the commons. This says that the king is wiser than those in commons who were already more intelligent than the king. This presents much confusion and ambiguity to the American Colonists about the English Constitution. As if to show that them that the Constitution and this idea of a king are not what some people may seem to believe they are. Paine shows that the idea of a king is very ridiculous by using easy to understand words. He makes it easy be stating, “The state of a king shuts him from the world, yet the business of a king requires him to know it thoroughly.” (Common Sense pg. 6).
That statement shows that one man could not possibly know how to govern a large body of people by himself. There is no way that very many people will be satisfied with king’s decisions. Paine’s idea of a government allows representatives from each state to speak to a congress on the behalf of their community that is a smaller number of people. Therefore, more people will be happy and satisfied. It is the idea that many people working together are better than one working by himself.
Paine argues that having a king is not only a bad idea, but also wrong according to Scripture. According to Scripture, monarchy is considered as one of the sins of the Jews. The Jews asked Gideon to rule over them as well as his son and his son’s son and so on. This employs a hereditary kingdom. As I mentioned earlier that a king alone could not govern his people properly, then how can one expect his son, who is much younger and more naive, to do the same job.
The Jews had committed the sin of idolatry, putting another king before God, the King of Kings. Using the Scripture was a good way of getting people’s attention because many people, at the time, were deeply religious. The people were blinded by the king’s justification of divine right. Paine had to first had to state what was wrong with England and its monarchy, and lead people to believe that things are not what they seem before he could really start to encourage people to rebel. Paine says, “the Constitution of England is sickly because monarchy hath poisoned the republic, the commons hath engrossed the commons.” (Common Sense page 20).
At this point, Paine was able to start stressing the importance of winning independence from England, and how America can survive on its own. Paine points out that Great Britain’s protection was because of “interest and not attachment, and that Great Britain did not protect us from our enemies on our account, but from their enemies on their account.”(Common Sense pg. 23). Paine gets the Colonists to believe that Great Britain will not protect America because it ought to, but because it wants to for another underlying reason, a free port.
Paine says that America’s trade will always be a protection, and its barrenness of gold and silver secure it from invaders. Paine establishes that the king is the enemy, and that there is no advantages derived from bring connected with Great Britain. Paine argues that connection with Great Britain only involves America in wars with nations that would otherwise seeks its friendship. All of these things that Paine argues for independence are important, but not quite as important than the way he presents them, which in my mind is the reason why Common Sense was so influential.
Paine uses such a bold style of writing that it is inspirational to the reader. He picks and chooses words that make the reader feel like he is involved in a way that induces the reader to feel obligated to do something about what is going on. This is a very persuasive style of writing that gives the American Colonists, as well as others, a feeling of anger and oppression. Educating this feeling, Paine is able to lead the reader to this raising of arms against Great Britain.
Paine does this so well that he is able to criticize the king. No one had criticized the king publicly before. This gave people the feeling that they are not alone. If the information that Paine provided the American Colonists with was presented as just fact, then it would not have been enough to get people to join the uprising. Paine wrote Common Sense believing that he could motivate and inspire, and he does it so well. The third section of this Pamphlet best demonstrates this style. After strong words of inspiration, Paine now stresses that the time is now.
Paine argues to the Colonists that many nations do have this opportunity, and that the colonies united with a little outside help from France and Spain can fight and win. But one colony could not do it on its own. Paine is now able to show how America can and will succeed. He goes on to explain that the large force of people America has is sufficient enough to stand its ground. Paine gets the reader to believe that America has the most capable army and the most intelligent, well-trained leaders.
As for a navy, Paine shows that “there is no country more capable of raising a naval fleet as America is. Tar, timber, iron, and cordage are America’s natural produce.” (Common Sense pg. 46). People may not see it, but America can stand-alone. It has no other resources to rely on other than itself. By now Paine has made it very apparent that the time has come to declare independence. He states”inquiry ceases at once, for, the time hath found us.”(Common Sense page 43).
Thomas Paine was a great inspirational writer who was bold it what he did. His style of presenting had to be the greatest influence in Common Sense. Had a good idea in writing this pamphlet, which sparked many people to believe that independence was inevitable for America. In making assumptions as he did, he was not just bold but confident that he was right.
Thomas was not just hoping that America might win its independence, and falsely lead people to think that it could happen. No, he truly believed in his heart that it would happen. It turns out that he was right. He gave hope and struck confidence into the hearts of many with his words of inspiration, and therefore, he got people to raise up against Great Britain and its monarchy. Thomas Paine will always be remembered by people all over the world for his strong will, dedication, beliefs, and most of all his ability to inspire.