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Analysis on Thomas Paine's Common Sense

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Jonice Ann O. Magsino                                                                                        February 23, 2018

HIST 120                                                                                                           Rebekah Key Strain

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           One of the most important documents in American history is Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense”. As mentioned in the instructions for that particular assignment. Thomas Paine was born and raised in England. Being a gifted writer, he was convinced by Benjamin Franklin to move to colonial America and then write something that would encourage people to support the revolution. His “Common Sense” was widely understandable even by commoners that it became the best-seller of its day. In his book, Paine discusses the advantages of a freer government contrasted to a monarchy and used it to explain the need for American independence. This paper will discuss Paine’s arguments for independence and analyze how these arguments were able to persuade the people.

            The key point that Paine uses in his argument is the purpose of government and society. According to Paine, society is a blessing which is produced by the wants of the people and government is the necessary evil (as it takes some of the wants of the people). Government’s purpose besides being evil is that it provides security with the greatest benefit and least expense to the nation.  

             The terms society and government could be good phrases in describing America and Great Britain. For the most part of the colonial era, Great Britain had served as a government for America even through its monarchy. The book even mentioned how America was able to flourish with its British connection and security.  

            Based on events that catapulted the revolution however, it can be seen that Britain was no longer serving as a necessary government that would give security and less expense unto the American people. A very good example would be the Stamp Act and other related tax laws which caused the Americans their expense by having to pay additional money just to get more goods from Europe. This fact, aside from the fact that the then current legislatures in the colonies which could mean that Americans know how to govern themselves, might help the people who read Paine’s book that the Great Britain is no longer serving its purpose as a government necessary for the Americans since it only caused more expense than benefits to them.

             Because of the fact that he had to convince multiple numbers of people from different classes and not just the elite, I thought that it was extremely wise of Paine to include in his book the negative results of monarchy as a government. The main point that he used as to why monarchy is not a good form of government is the equality of all mankind. By pointing out that all mankind is equal, he was able to convince that the distinction of kings and subjects are wrong because they were not natural distinctions unlike man vs woman or good vs bad. Since Great Britain’s monarchy was not as absolute as those in other countries, Paine also had to explain why the system of checks and balances was not good enough to control the power of the monarchy in that the Commons (part of British government that checks the king to ensure he makes good decisions) is also checked by the king himself which only shows that the king still has more power. Paine also further added that since monarchy was hereditary, an unworthy ruler could inherit the throne which would only mean negative effects on a country. He also added that a hereditary leadership means that the notion of equality is not fulfilled since one man has set up his entire family in preference against others.

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