Common Sense was a pamphlet written by Thomas Paine in 1776. It was advocating independence from Great Britain to the people of the thirteen colonies. “It captured the imagination of the colonists as had no previous pamphlet” (Paine, page 9). The pamphlet was written clearly and persuasively in the fact of getting the 13 colonies to rebel against King George III and Britain because colonists thought that they should not be ruled by a king across the sea and have all these taxes and rules placed on them. They wanted their own independence.
Their own freedom. Paine marshaled moral and political arguments to encourage the common people of the 13 colonies to fight for their own government and their own freedom. At first, people did not think it was a smart idea to go against Britain and betray their mother country. As more and more laws and taxes were placed on the people’s wills and goods, colonists started to become more and more angry and this is when Paine jumped right into the forefront with a pamphlet called “Common Sense” to bring people to go and rebel against Britain.
Common Sense was considered “the most brilliant pamphlet written during the American Revolution, and one of the most brilliant pamphlets written in the American language” (Paine, pages 9-10). In November of 1175, Paine began to write his draft of Common Sense The pamphlet could be sold and bought on January 10, 1776. Paine was angry with the first one that his publisher put out for the Colonists to read so he made a second and released it on February 14, 1776 and the newer one was a third larger than the first one. Interesting thing about Paine was hat his last name was spelled “P-a-i-n” but added an “e” at the end when he thought he was no longer an Englishmen. “He was a new man, a successful American; he was Thomas Paine” (Paine, page 28). Paine also played a huge role in the politics of the war period, in Pennsylvania helping to shape the new state constitution and in the nation, itself carrying out the important foreign assignments. “The ease with which political arguments could, in fact, use scientific and technical principles is illustrated beautifully in Common Sense with its discussions of weights and forces” (Paine, page 31).
Paine wanted to attack King George III in his writings and called upon the people to develop and establish their own republic. This is where Thomas Jefferson and John Adams condemned Paine because they believed that he was an extremist. No matter who argued against the pamphlet and thought it was a great idea or not, it sold 120,000 copies in the first three months after publication. In that same year, there was about 500,000 published. Boldly, he announced that America’s purpose in theses battles was to achieve complete independence, to break all ties with corrupt and tyrannical Britain” (Paine, page 8). The pamphlet was so simple to read that the literate farmer or plain mechanic would be able to read it. Paine began the first section of the pamphlet with the arguments of exposition of general liberal theory. Paine puts it as that men originally lived as isolated, free and solitary individuals in a ‘state of natural society’ (Paine, page 38).
So, Paine argues that men and women in the colonies should be free and not be ruled from across the ocean. They should have their own individual rights as their own country. Also, the government’s role should be strictly limited. Paine also then turns to the present state of American affairs. “His interest is that of an English radical convinced that America’s destiny transcends the mere livelihood of the people of the thirteen colonies in January 1776″ (Paine, page 42). Paine was arguing that the new nation should be about the colonists. Not Britain.
It was their country to fight for and that is exactly what they did to gain control of their independence and their freedom. Thomas Paine’s motivation for writing Common Sense is extremely important to where we are now as Americans. If it was not for Paine writing it, Colonists may not have rebelled against Britain and who knows where we would be at this point in our time as Americans. We may not even be Americans at this point if this all did not happen. The plea for independence was boldly urged through Common Sense which caught the public’s imagination. The pamphlet ‘struck a string which required but a touch to make it vibrate’a contemporary noted” (Paine, page 29).
The newly thought country was ready and ripe for some independence of their own and it only needed somebody to tell the Colonists about it with arguments and boldness in a pamphlet. Even though Paine called for independence and separation completely from Britain’s government and the mother land, people were not in total agreement with the idea. James Chalmers thought that the pamphlet was an insult to the understanding that the Colonists knew. The British Constitution ‘with all its imperfections’, he wrote, ‘is, and ever will be, the pride and envy of mankind” (Paine, page 30). People thought with a King and an aristocracy, the constitution would immediately degenerate into democracy v which is what Chalmers and Colonists feared.
Adams, who was a much more conservative thinker than Paine, agreed with Paine’s idea to separate from Britain but was worried at Common Sense’s prescription of a simple political system for independent America without the complex balancing and separation of powers inherent in the older British model. Chalmers and John Adams notwithstanding, far fewer criticized Paine’s pamphlet than praised it” (Paine, page 30). After the pamphlet came out, Thomas Paine gained instant fame after he was known as the author of Common Sense. Paine’s proposal of his ideas in Common Sense could be too radical and extreme because the people of the colonies were almost satisfied with how life was going with King George ruling them. I should not say that satisfied but were afraid to go against the government that has been ruling over the Colonists for a while.
John Adams, who would succeed George Washington to become the nation’s second president, in his Thoughts of Government, wrote that Paine’s ideal sketched in Common Sense was so democratically, without any restraint or even an attempt at any equilibrium or counter poise, that it must produce confusion and every evil work. Others denounced Paine as dangerous and his ideas violent in a sort of way. Paine was also an active and willing participant in what would become essentially a six-month publicity tour for independence. Paine was criticized for the way that he wanted people to rebel completely from Britain.
People did take on the idea that maybe it would be nice to have their own independent government and not be taxed for their tea and stamps and other goods, but they did not know what it would be like to not have a King and a government ruling over them because their new nation could crash. Paine advised the people that the new government would be better and less strict while giving people the rights that they deserve to have. People went against him because other famous people were writing pamphlets as well that were disagreeing with the ideas that he presented in Common Sense.
He was viewed as an extremist and maybe people thought it was weird that a guy that came out of nowhere made a pamphlet suggesting all these ideas to the Colonists about fighting for their own government and for their independence from Britain. People were half and half for it because they were tired of being taxed and ruled by Britain but were also afraid and worried about the idea that it may not be smart to leave them and fight them for independence that they may or may not win.