Thomas Paine's "Common Sense"
Thomas Paine is responsible for some of the most influential pamphlets about the colonial situation in the 1700’s. He found himself in the right position and time to make his opinions known through his writing. He was a journalist in Philadelphia when the American relationship with England was thinning and change was on the horizon. Paine became famous at this time for writing Common Sense, as well as his sixteen Crisis papers. Through his particular style of reasoning and vehemence, Paine’s Common Sense became crucial in turning American opinion against Britain and was instrumental in the colonies' decision to engage in a battle for complete independence.
Part of the effectiveness of Paine’s Common Sense was his “plainness.” He wanted everyone, laymen and lawmakers alike, to be able to read and comprehend what he was saying. He did not feel he needed overly flowery speech, in fact, that would not serve his purpose. His desire to stir up the people would not be met if he wrote in a style that took too much in-depth analysis for the common person to understand. Paine said he wanted to write “so as to bring out a clear conclusion that shall hit the point in question and nothing else.”
At the start, Paine explains that in the essay to come he is offering the reader nothing but “simple facts, plain arguments,” and of course, “common sense.” He says he asks the reader for nothing more than to read on without prejudice and let their feelings decide for themselves. However calmly Paine approaches the beginning of his work, though, later he will certainly show himself to be quite passionate. He begins his argument with more general, theoretical reflections about government and religion, and then progresses into the specifics of the colonial situation.
Paine uses grand terms to describe the importance he feels this matter takes, stating: “The sun never shined on a cause of greater worth.” Throughout this work there are examples of this, as Paine leans more and more toward overstatement with his passionate remarks. Paine is quick to explain that reconciliation is not an option and has already passed away “like an agreeable dream,” and so it is only right to examine the other options now left. Being connected and dependent on Britain is not beneficial. Paine denounces the argument that America’s prior connection to Great Britain has been a positive thing and so would continue as such by giving the example of a child who has been living on milk never moving on to eating meat.
Paine moves on to talk about society and government. To Paine, society is everything good that the people can accomplish by joining together. Paine makes it clear that he is not particularly fond of government, whose only purpose is "restraining our vices". One theme throughout this work is Paine’s view of government as a necessary evil. Paine says that government has its origins in the evil of man, and that its sole purpose is to...