Common Sense Essay

1786 words - 8 pages

Common Sense was written by Thomas Paine and published in 1776. Paine wrote it as a plea for the American people to break away from Britain and to declare independence from the king. He was asking his audience to take a step back and see that just because something is tradition, does not mean it is necessarily right. Paine wanted to show his readers that government and society is not the same thing, which is how most people viewed it. Society was something that people should want to have, while a government is something that people had to have in order to keep themselves in check. That by paying the various taxes, the people were inadvertently paying to live in such bad conditions. ...view middle of the document...

Britain justified the taxes by pointing out that they were needed to protect America. Paine countered that Britain was no longer protecting the people of the colonies; in fact, they had just recently been attacking them. Paine also made it clear that by being a part of Britain that the colonies were in turn viewed as a threat to the other countries that were against Britain. In declaring independence, they would no longer need the protection that Britain had to offer.
To get his point across as to what he felt a government should be, Paine discusses an imaginary land where people are just starting out. In the beginning, there is not a government, the people are able to agree and come to formidable terms. Then the population of the land increases and the people are forced to form a government. The people will have to do this because with the growing numbers there would be no way of keeping everyone in check, so laws would have to be made and executed. The people would have to elect trustworthy members of the society to act on behalf of them. Since everyone is subject to corruption, the elected members would need to change periodically, with fresh people in office, the idea is that they will not be corrupted upon entering and therefore the best interests of the people will be served.
The purpose of government from Paine’s point of view was that government was unwanted but necessary. A government was there to keep everyone in check. A government’s sole purpose was to protect people from their own undoing. Governments should only be used to protect the people, never to control them.
Paine argues that although Britain claims to have a check and balance in place, it is not used. How can a king be trusted to do the right thing if he has no one to check him? That the king seeks absolute power but has no idea what is going on outside of his own affairs. Paine was not a huge fan of the King, or of monarchy. He felt that the King had much more power than anyone one man deserved and that there was too much lenience given to Parliament. That even if the people chose to live under the rule of a King, that did not justify the next of kin taking over once the King stepped down or passed away. By having a monarchy in place, the people were forced to accept whatever laws and rules were thrown at them. Britain would remain a Monarchy as long as there was a blood relation to pass down the crown. The people were forced with whatever ruler was next in line. There was no say, no way to break the chain, with the exception of declaring independence.
Paine argues that America would be better off upon declaring independence because it would be free from all the threats that came from the enemies of Britain. It would be able to form allies with the countries that would not consider it with Britain and in return, the colonies would be able to prosper in trade and commerce. That there was enough people in the colonies to make a stand now...

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