Common sense was an influential pamphlet written by Thomas Paine in 1776. He was very careful in the way he wrote his works. This was necessitated by the fact that he always wanted his readers to understand the occurrences of the time better by informing them clearly. At one time, he claimed “I offer nothing more than simple facts, plain arguments, and common sense.”
Thomas Paine’s common sense argument is depicted by his reflections of the government and the religion. He distinguished the society and the government by stating that the government is an institution whose main obligation is to protect the people from their own vices. He claimed that government was created out of necessity by the evil ways of people. It was therefore necessary to have the government that would ensure that these evils are dealt with. American colonists in the new land were under the British monarchy which Paine claimed was complex and full of contradictions (Paine, 1776 Pg 6).
Paine was of the idea that the monarchy had more power than he ought to have had. He believed that the King was not different from the other people and the only difference between the two was unnatural means. Having viewed the crown and the British government as unfair, Thomas Paine wrote the common sense pamphlet in which he argues that it was logical that Britain should grant America independence. He questioned how a King in Europe would be able to rule a people thousands of miles away. His concern was that their grievances would take long to be handled by the crown thousands of miles away.
Paine presented Biblical evidence that Kings were condemned even by God. His evidence showed that God was against the idea of Jews having Kings. Paine therefore concluded that monarchy must have originated from Sin and was not worth in ruling the people. He was against the idea of inheritance of the crown. According to him, even if people were to choose a King as their ruler it does not guarantee that the children of the King will be the future rulers of the people. Such practises brought adverse consequences to the society for instance civil wars, corruption, and other issues due to incompetent of the King (Paine, 1776, Pg 7).
Having developed these rhetorical analyses, Paine focused on the events that were taking place in America. His writings on America excelled above all other writers of the time. Through common sense; he acknowledged that America prospered under the crown of Britain but things were different. America has evolved and learned to stand on its own and did not need Britain anymore. He claimed that whenever people are cut out from the rest of the society, they develop ways and means of interacting and forming a form of government to represent them. Paine provided his famous example of people living in an island cut out from the rest of the world. These people would come together and work towards their democratic livelihoods.
Although some people claimed that there was representation from the Britain government, Paine disagreed with the idea that America was protected by Britain. Instead he believed that Britain only watched over America prospered. At the same time, he acknowledged that Briton soldiers attacked them from time to time. How can a crown order his people to be attacked? This did not make sense to Paine. He believed that democracy meant being ruled the right way. He also postulated that the government should be chosen by the people. In the case of Britain, the government was monarchy which had been inherited subsequently from the first monarchy government (Paine, 1776, Pg 11).
The government should be flexible to be able to handle all grievances and problems the ruled may have. The ruler should always have the remedy to any kind of a problem and should always be ready to work out these problems. However, the Briton government had a complex constitution according to Paine. This meant that the people in the new country would suffer for years without a remedy for the problem they may have. At the same time, Paine was of the idea that the crown could not be able to rule people away effectively (Ferguson, 1997, Paine, 1776, Pg 14).
Paine was very passionate about democracy. He always showed his interested in a government that was based on the will of the people. Since this kind of government was nothing but an illusion in America, Paine was very disturbed on the current situations In America. At the same time, America was only being used by Britain for economic purposes yet very little were done. With a lot of resources being sent from America to Britain, America ought to be treated better. America was not respected by Britain and all other nations because of these events. Considering that America had a lot of resources and was debt free, they were at a better position as a separate country (Paine, 1776, Pg 15).
With all the problems America faced, Paine urged American colonies to separate once and for all from Britain. He claimed that nature reveals; reason explains; and God ordains that "the birth-day of a new world is at hand." (Ferguson, 1997). Basing on the current size and potential of the colonies, Paine was of the idea that America had the potential to build a larger navy fleet with better equipment than that of Britain. This would be of great importance in revolting against Britain. He claimed that it would be better to be treated with respect as a separate country rather than be viewed the way it was viewed at the time.
Common sense pamphlet written by Thomas Paine did not only make sense to Americans but was also very logical. Americas started to see the sense in what Paine was saying. They were inspired by the idea and worked towards it. In fact, the ideas of American independence were conceived during the time of Thomas Paine with his famous writings.
Criticisms on Paine
Thomas Paine wrote a lot of things on America. He published many other articles on the same issue. Most of the contents of the articles reflected what was happening in the society. They were quite logical and were appreciated by most people especially in America. However, there are some things that may not be in line with Thomas Paine arguments.
In the common sense pamphlet, Thomas Paine claimed that God condemned Kings in Israel but that is not the case and therefore monarchy governments were not applicable as well. He claimed that they must have been formed from sin because God had condemned them. Conversely, it is imperative to note that God always wanted his people to be ruled in a better way and He always chose Kings for his people. Condemnation of a king depended on whether the he was following God’s orders or not. A king could not be condemned by God if he was doing the right thing and following God’s commands.
Condemnation of Saul by God was because of what he had done. He had been commanded by God to attack Amalekites and kill all living things. This includes human beings and all animals in the whole region. When Saul attacked the city, he did not kill all people including the King. He also took all healthy animals and went back to Jerusalem with them. This angered God because He has commanded Saul to kill all living things in Amalek. At that juncture, condemnation of Saul was inevitable and God looked for another King that would lead Israelite well; one who would follow his commands (Paine, 1776).
It is therefore very important to note that although God condemned some Kings, it was because they did not do what they have been asked to. Therefore, Thomas Paine arguments against monarchy government did not have a good foundation on the subject.
Ferguson, R. (1997). American Enlightenment, 1750-1820. Boston: Harvard University
Paine, T. (1776). Common Sense. Retrieved from