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Who Should Read “Common Sense”? And Why?
Common Sense was first published in 1776, anonymously.
It sold in more than 100 000 copies within three months, and eventually, a half million copies were read in America. To understand the meaning of these numbers, you need to know that at that time, America had only two million literate citizens.
About Thomas Paine
Thomas Paine (1737-1809) published Common Sense anonymously in 1776. He also wrote The Rights of Man and The Age of Reason and The American Crisis.
“Common Sense Summary”
Many people mix between the concepts of “society” and “government,” sometimes thinking they are the same.
So, before we start, let’s define their difference.
Humans crave interaction, so they gather with one another, creating society.
The government, on the other hand, is some kind of a control mechanism, which exists to ensure the well being of all people, who sometimes when having too much freedom, act irresponsibly.
Society has decided that a part of its freedom is a fair price to pay, for an entity which provides security.
Now, let’s contrast this arrangement, with the notion of English governance.
England’s constitution comprises the king’s “monarchical tyranny,” the peers’ “aristocratical tyranny” and “the new Republican” commons.
As you can notice, the first two are hereditary positions, so they do not and, for that matter: cannot represent the people.
In such cases, the governing positions are so removed from society, that it can take a long time before they understand what people want.
The idea that each of these groups checks the progress and correctness of the other is illogical.
Just think about it: if people can override the decisions of the kind, it shows that the commons are smarter than him and that he is untrustworthy. On the other hand, the king has the power to supersede the actions of the people.
So, what is the point of such “checks”?
The way kings inherit their positions are contradictory to the notion that all people are equal as well.
If people chose a ruler to be their king, it does not mean that his children should govern them as well. When royal offsprings know that they would anyway inherit their title, what would make them work toward understanding their people and their needs?
What would make them good rulers?
The reality is that the more power people have, the less they need a king. People do not need kings that only take the money and declares wars. Such a king brings no value to them.
In fact, people live under governance imposed by fear and force.
Paine argues that the time for discussion has passed and that it is the time that people woke up.
England does not provide its colonies with any protection since England only cares about its commercial interests.
America should be free to become its own ruler. Its riches are so vast that it would prosper even more than Great Britain.
People go to America to search for the freedom they cannot seem to find in their homes.
America should keep away from the disagreements Great Britain has with the world, and peacefully conduct its own business. The American continent needs to break free.
Besides, the distance between the two is too big to allow for proper and efficient governance.
According to him, America should make an “open and determined declaration of independence.” This way, he believes, the continent will get the support of other countries in its war for freedom.
If America decides to keep quiet, on the other hand, other countries will never support it, fearing that one day the colonies will reconcile with Great Britain.
Declaring the wish for dependence is the one that pulls the line between Americans being “rebels” and Americans wanting freedom.
Key Lessons from “Common Sense PDF”
1. Reasons for a Separation Between America and England
2. What Might The Colonies Expect, If They Pass on The Opportunity for Independence
3. On a Proposed Government
Reasons for a Separation Between America and England
- The colonies can create a numerous, spirited army.
- America is rich in natural resources.
- America carries no debt and can get loans to support the uprising.
- To fight the English, America needs to build a navy, and already has the materials required for a fleet, which serve commercial purposes as well.
- England is distracted by other parts of its empire, and its navy is not as strong as it can be.
- America is producing arms and ammunition.
- The colonies have land that will provide riches in the future.
- The colonies have ambitious and young people ready to work as a team to build the country of their dreams.
What Might The Colonies Expect, If They Pass on The Opportunity for Independence
- The king will use the opportunity to exercise his full authority over the colonies. He will want to keep them under his control.
- “Emigrants of property” will no longer come to a politically unstable America.
- Only an independent American government can prevent a war with England
On a Proposed Government
- Creation of a “Continental Congress” which would authorize each colony to send at least 30 representatives each to an annual meeting.
- Creation of a “Continental Conference,” consisted of both Congressional representatives and qualified citizens.
- The “Continental Conference” should create a “Continental Charter,” which would outline the rights to property, religion, freedom as well as the form of government.
- When it accomplishes the mission, the Conference will seize to exist.
- A king will never rule America – only law will govern there.
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“Common Sense” QuotesSociety in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil. Click To Tweet We are already greater than the King wishes us to be, and will he not hereafter endeavor to make us less? Click To Tweet The sun never shined on a cause of greater worth. Click To Tweet In short, monarchy and succession have laid (not this or that kingdom only) but the world in blood and ashes. Click To Tweet There is something exceedingly ridiculous in the composition of monarchy. Click To Tweet
Our Critical Review
Paine has shared his thoughts in “Common Sense” using concise and clear sentences, intending for those sentences to reach the masses. However, do not be fooled, the text’s simplicity does not mean that it lacks rhetorical grandeur.