Common Sense



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Common Sense by Thomas Paine
Thomas Paine was considered a world traveling trouble-maker. He came to the American colonies and helped foment a revolution. He returned to England to promote radical causes and had to flee for his life. He went to France where he aided in the French Revolution. "Common Sense," printed in Philadelphia on January 10, 1776 and reprinted throughout the colonies, offered his reasons why America should seek independence.

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"In the following pages I offer nothing more than simple facts, plain arguments, and common sense....


Volumes have been written on the subject of the struggle between England (Britain) and America. Men of all ranks have embarked in the controversy, from different motives, and with various designs; but all have been ineffectual, and the period of debate is closed. Weapons as the last resource decide the contest; the choice to fight] was the choice of the King, and the [American] Continent has accepted the challenge....
The Sun never shined on a cause of greater worth.... Now is the seed time of Continental union, faith, and honour....
I have heard it asserted by some, that as America flourished under her former connection with Great Britain, and that same connection is necessary for her future happiness. Nothing can be more fallacious (untruthful) than this kind of argument: -- we may as well assert that because a baby thrived upon milk, the child were never have meat....

But Britain if it is the parent country then more shame upon her conduct. Even brutes do not devour their young, nor savages make war upon their families; wherefore the assertion if true, turns to her reproach; but it happens not to be true... the phrase, parent or mother country, was adopted by the King and his parasites, with the design of gaining an unfair bias on the credulous weakness of our minds. Europe and not England is the parent country of America. This New World has been the asylum (place to hide) for persecuted lovers of civil and religious liberty from every part of Europe. They fled, not from the tender embraces of the mother, but from the cruelty of the monster; and it is so far true of England, that the same tyranny, which drove the first emigrants from home, pursues their descendants still.


Besides, what have we to do with setting the world at defiance? Our plan is commerce, and that well attended to, will secure us the peace and friendship of all Europe, because it is the interest of all Europe to have America a free port. Her trade will always be her protection....
I challenge the warmest advocate for reconciliation, to show, a single advantage that this Continent can reap, by being connected with Great Britain. I will repeat the challenge, not a single advantage is derived. Our corn will fetch its price in any market in Europe and our imported goods must be paid for by them where we will.

But the injuries and disadvantages we sustain by that connection, are without number, and our duty to mankind at large, as well as to ourselves, instruct us to renounce the alliance; because any submission to, or dependence on Great Britain, tends directly to involve this Continent in European wars and quarrels. As Europe is our market for trade, we ought to form no political connection with any part of it....


Europe is too thickly planted with Kingdoms, to be long at peace, and whenever a war breaks out between England and any foreign power, the trade of American goes to ruin, because of her connection with Britain....
A government of our own is our natural right; and when a man seriously reflects on the precariousness (instability) of human affairs, he will become convinced, that it is infinitely wiser and safer, to form a constitution of our own, in a cool deliberate manner, while we have it in our power, than to trust such an interesting event to time and chance....
O ye that love mankind! Ye that dare oppose not only the tyranny but the tyrant, stand forth! Every spot of the Old World is over-run with oppression. Freedom hath been hunted round the Globe. Asia and Africa have long expelled her. Europe regards her like a stranger, and England hath given her warning to depart. O! receive the fugitive, and prepare in time an asylum for mankind."

Questions:




  1. According to Paine, what will resolve the conflict between the Colonies & Britain? Why?


  1. How does Paine describe the relationship between America and Great Britain? Does Paine think America’s future depend on Great Britain’s assistance? Explain.


  1. How does Paine feel about Britain being America's "mother country"?


  1. Why does Paine say people came to America?



  1. What “natural right” does Paine advocate (support) and why?


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