Law is King Miguel Ortega

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By 1775 only about 50% of all the American Colonists were ready to fight for Independence. The other 50% weren’t sure whether they w anted more Independence or simply more freedom. Thomas Paine was among those who believed that America was ready for Independence. Paine wrote Common Sense as propaganda to call upon all Americans to open their eyes and join the battle against Britain. He wanted to make sure that every American knew that it was now time to revolt. He called those who were not ready to fight blind cowards that would leave their problems to their children. Paine argued that America should fight for independence because Britain had begun to use brute force against the colonist; they had nothing to gain from reconciliation, and they would always be under the rule of a king. Paine hoped that America would one day have its own central government in which law would be king.

Paine wasn’t the only one who saw the brutality British troops had begun to use against peaceful colonists. However, he was one of the few who seem to be paying attention. Those who did not wish to see, British loyalists, referred to Britain as America’s “parent country.” They were under the impression that Britain was there to protect the colonies. Paine saw it differently. He argued “… [Britain’s] motive was INTEREST not ATTACHMENT; and that she did not protect us from OUR ENEMIES on OUR ACCOUNT; but from HER ENEMIES on HER ACCOUNT…” (Paine, 2) Paine was quick to realize that if it weren’t for America’s connection to Britain there would be peace between Spain, France and the colonies. America had been fighting Britain’s wars and in the process lost many powerful trading partners. Paine bashed the phrase “parent country” because in Pennsylvania less than one third of the population was of English decent. Having lived in America for fifteen years Paine knew that any European man that moved to America was referred to as a fellow countryman. To finish arguing his point Paine used an analogy: “The first king of England, of the present line was a Frenchman… therefore by the same method of reasoning, England ought to be governed by France.” (3) Paine sought revolution not only for America’s political future but its economic future as well.

Loyalists claimed that if Britain and America remained united they would be the only superpower. However, Paine knew that America’s future did not lie in war, but rather in commerce. America didn’t have the need for war, he argued, because not only did they not have a professional army, but they depended on trade with foreign countries. “…whenever a war breaks out between England and any foreign power, the trade of America goes to ruin, BECAUSE OF THE CONNECTION WITH BRITAIN.” (4) Britain would be the only country that would benefit from reconciliation and Paine wanted this known. He explains that if Britain was out of the picture, America’s trade would be protected because it would be a free port. Nobody would try and damage relations between America and Europe because it was to their mutual benefit that America set their own prices and tariffs. The only ones who opposed Paine were those who had strong relationships with England and benefited from reconciliation. He challenged those men asking them to name a single advantage that all of America would gain with their connection to England. As a final push Paine argued that “Reconciliation and ruin are nearly related.” (8) He wanted to loyalists to know that even though their partnership with England may seem favorable now, in the end it would lead to America’s demise. England would continue exploiting America’s resources for their own benefit and they would never allow America to have a government of its own.

The king of England still controlled all 13 colonies and he had no intention to give it up, at least in Paine’s view. In “Common Sense” he gives his fellow countrymen three clear points of why the power to govern America should not be left to the king. Paine starts of by saying that by using arms instead of paper against America, the king had become the enemy of freedom. By which the king would be allowed to say to the colonies “You shall make no laws but what I please,” without anyone challenging his authority. Next, Paine explains that if there is reconciliation between the two countries the best America could hope for is a government in which England would have all the say under strict guardianship. That government would not last because those who own any property in America would be suppressed so much that they would be forced to leave the country, explained Paine. His last and most influential argument was that full independence would be the only way for America to be free and at peace. His hopes for America were that one day they would have their own government. He went as far as proposing a government in which each colony would have equal say and every man would be free and allowed property. Under this government all their children would be free. Paine wanted a continental rule in which law would be the sole ruler of the country.

Paine admits that at first he was for the reconciliation of Great Britain and America, but was quick to change his mind after Lexington and Concord. He used his pamphlet to change the mind of those who wanted reconciliation. He wanted to open their eyes to all the madness and death around them due to British rule. He did so by merely presenting the facts and telling his personal loss and pain. Paine argued for independence because he knew that Britain would have continued using brutal force, America had nothing to gain, and the colonists would always live under the rule of a king. He was hopeful that America would gain its independence.

Sources Cited:

Thomas Paine, “Common Sense,” Chapter 5

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