Thomas Paine's Common Sense Summary

Topics: American Revolution, Monarchy, United States Declaration of Independence Pages: 3 (856 words) Published: January 4, 2014
Common Sense by Thomas Paine

In Common Sense, Thomas Paine argues for American independence. His argument begins with more general, theoretical reflections about government and religion, then progresses to the specifics of the colonial situation. Paine begins by differentiating between government and society. Society, is everything constructive and good that people join together to accomplish. Government, on the other hand, is an institution whose sole purpose is to protect us from our own corruption. Government has its origins in the evil of man and is therefore a necessary evil at best. Paine says that government's only purpose is to protect life, liberty and property, and that a government should be judged just on the basis of the extent to which it accomplishes this goal. Paine then considers an imagined scenario in which a small group of people has been placed on an island, and cut off from the rest of society. In time, these people develop ties with one another, and lawmaking becomes inevitable. Paine says the people will be much happier if they are responsible for the creation of the laws that rule them. Paine argues that such a system of representation is also better for the American colonists. Having expressed his disagreement with British reign in America, Paine continues to launch a general attack on the British system of government. Paine says the British system is too complex and abundant with contradictions, and that the monarchy is granted far too much power. The British system pretends to offer a reasonable system of checks and balances, but contrarily, it does not.

From here Paine moves on to discuss, the notions of monarchy and hereditary succession. He says, Man was born into a state of equality, and the distinction that has been created between king and subject is an unnatural one. At first, Paine says, the world was without kings, but the ancient Jews decided they wanted a king. This angered God, but he allowed them to have one. Paine...
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