Government Is a Necessary Evil

Topics: Henry David Thoreau, American philosophy, Civil disobedience Pages: 6 (2075 words) Published: October 7, 2012
8 November 2011
ENG 221
Dr. West
A Government is a necessary evil
Authors have debated the role of governments for hundreds of years. Two of these authors, are Thomas Paine and Henry David Thoreau. "In Common Sense by Thomas Paine, he expresses his opinion on how the government is a "necessary evil", and in the 21st century the government still appears to be evil." Thoreau also expresses his concern with a government in “Civil Disobedience”. Both of these authors had valid opinions, and if they still were alive today they would be outraged with the U.S. Government. Paine was a hard working man. He participated in many events throughout his life, including fighting in the American Revolution. There was no doubt that Paine was a patriotic man, he simply did not agree with the values and ideas of a government. He had a strong concern for the rights of men, and expressed it clearly through his literary work, Rights of men. Michael Williams states in “Visionaries and Sceptics: Tom Paine and some Contemporaries”, “While Paine shares their concerns with the rights of women, his principal focus is on the revolutions he witnessed in America, and later in France, on the deleterious effects of tyrannical government, and on an idealistic vision of the future, once these effects are eliminated.”(Williams p.1).This shows that Paine was not only concerned with the ideas of a government; he was well rounded and cared for many people. He was not a stubborn, grouchy man that did not agree with authority. Paine wanted to fix the problems in the government. Paine was not naive, and he realized that the government will always be around. He was looking for a way to make it better. He knew that without a government there would be no order. Williams also states” The first section of Common Sense is headed as ‘the origin and design of government in general’, and it offers a sustained attack on the principles of monarchy and, in particular, those of the English monarchy.”(Williams p.6). It does in fact attack on the principles of monarchy, especially the English monarchy. Paine was originally from England and he had a special love for England. He did not want to see the English people being treated unfairly due to the monarchy. Paine thought that king’s were unfit to govern. Paine did not believe that one man should make the ultimate decision on how people choose to live their lives. Although Paine was concerned with England, he was equally concerned with the thirteen colonies. Many historians believe that Common Sense sparked an American Resolution, and during the war Paine always encouraged and inspired patriots with a series of pamphlets entitled The American Crisis. Paine did not want to be a part of the problem; he wanted to be a part of the solution. According to The Norton Anthology of American Literature,” Paine received a number of political appointments as rewards for his services as a writer for the American cause, but too indiscreet and hot tempered for public employment, he misused his privileges and lost the most lucrative offices.”(The Norton Anthology of American Literature p.325). Paine wanted to make a change in the government and society, but is interpersonal tact prevented him from doing so. Many people lost respect for Paine, because people looked up to him and was hoping he would help make a change. He did make change but not as much as he could have. Paine had a lot of potential and influenced many people.

The author of “Tom Paine: Utopian?”, Mark Jendyrisk states “Paine lived with a dual vision, one both forward-looking and traditional.”(Jendryisk p.139). Even though Paine did not agree with the old Puritan ways and their ideas of a government, Paine still had traditional values. His values were not as extreme as the Puritans. Paine had high hopes and goals to fix the “old fashion” way of thinking and to help change the corrupt world. Jendryisk also stated, “He believed that republican government could...
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