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As this model was clearly intended to mirror the situation of the colonists at the time of publication, Paine went on to consider the Constitution of the United Kingdom. Paine found two tyrannies in the English constitution; monarchical and aristocratic tyranny, in the king and peers, who rule by heredity and contribute nothing to the people. Paine criticized the English constitution by examining the relationship between the king , the peers , and the commons. In the second section Paine considers monarchy first from a biblical perspective, then from a historical perspective.
He begins by arguing that all men are equal at creation and, therefore, the distinction between kings and subjects is a false one. Paine then examines some of the problems that kings and monarchies have caused in the past and concludes:. In England a king hath little more to do than to make war and give away places; which in plain terms, is to impoverish the nation and set it together by the ears. A pretty business indeed for a man to be allowed eight hundred thousand sterling a year for, and worshipped into the bargain!
Of more worth is one honest man to society and in the sight of God, than all the crowned ruffians that ever lived. The constitutional monarchy, according to Locke, would limit the powers of the king sufficiently to ensure that the realm would remain lawful rather than easily becoming tyrannical. According to Paine, however, such limits are insufficient. In the mixed state, power will tend to concentrate into the hands of the monarch, permitting him eventually to transcend any limitations placed upon him. Paine questions why the supporters of the mixed state, since they concede that the power of the monarch is dangerous, wish to include a monarch in their scheme of government in the first place.
In the third section Paine examines the hostilities between England and the American colonies and argues that the best course of action is independence. Paine writes that a Continental Charter "should come from some intermediate body between the Congress and the people" and outlines a Continental Conference that could draft a Continental Charter. These five would be accompanied by two members of the assembly of colonies, for a total of seven representatives from each colony in the Continental Conference.
The Continental Conference would then meet and draft a Continental Charter that would secure "freedom and property to all men, and… the free exercise of religion". Paine suggested that a congress may be created in the following way: The Congress would meet annually, and elect a president.
Each colony would be put into a lottery; the president would be elected, by the whole congress, from the delegation of the colony that was selected in the lottery. After a colony was selected, it would be removed from subsequent lotteries until all of the colonies had been selected, at which point the lottery would start anew. Electing a president or passing a law would require three-fifths of the congress. The fourth section of the pamphlet includes Paine's optimistic view of America's military potential at the time of the revolution.
For example, he spends pages describing how colonial shipyards, by using the large amounts of lumber available in the country, could quickly create a navy that could rival the Royal Navy. Due to heavy advertisement by both Bell and Paine, and the immense publicity created by their publishing quarrel, Common Sense was an immediate sensation not only in Philadelphia but also across the Thirteen Colonies. Early "reviewers" mainly letter excerpts published anonymously in colonial newspapers touted the clear and rational case for independence put forth by Paine. His stile [ sic ] is plain and nervous; his facts are true; his reasoning, just and conclusive".
This mass appeal, one later reviewer noted, was due to Paine's dramatic calls for popular support of revolution, "giv[ing] liberty to every individual to contribute materials for that great building, the grand charter of American Liberty". In the months leading up to the Declaration of Independence , many more reviewers noted that these two main themes—direct and passionate style and calls for individual empowerment—were decisive in swaying the Colonists from reconciliation to rebellion.
The pamphlet was also highly successful because of a brilliant marketing tactic planned by Paine. He and Bell timed the first edition to be published at around the same time as a proclamation on the colonies by King George III , hoping to contrast the strong, monarchical message with the heavily anti-monarchical Common Sense. Thomas Paine in Common Sense defined the terms of society and government and argued about why a government is a necessary evil and how it should be inexpensive and not obtrusive. He believed in the rights of a man and that all men should be afforded the liberty, freedom, and pursuit of happiness.
He favored talent and hard work over inherited rights. Hence, he debated against monarchy and how it ruined relations between the rulers and the ruled. Notice the fierce passion of Thomas Paine in the final paragraph right before the next section entitled "Of the Present Ability of America, with Some Miscellaneous Reflexions.
Apparently, it was and worked out for the best in the end. It can be comical and ironical that Thomas Paine died an obscure death and was not celebrated in his time, but today, he is the van Gogh of revolutionary writers. All in all, today's readers and non-readers can all thank, whether they understand it or not, Thomas Paine for his service and for making America what it is today. The edition I read of Common Sense is the Penguin Classics, and I think it's a well set-up book that will serve as an invaluable guidance.
The inexperienced and the weak readers should be advised to begin with the background of the American Revolution and how it came to be and then read the biography of Thomas Paine. I feel the readers can easily relate well with him before embarking on the main content of the book along with the Cliff's Notes and a dictionary. Finally, they should read the argument of Thomas Paine and the rest of the next two sections.
Perhaps, rereading Common Sense one more time thereafter will help, too. As for the experienced readers, like I did, they should start off with Common Sense first and then the rest of everything else. May 29, Tori Samar rated it liked it Shelves: Although Thomas Paine has a penchant for propaganda, I was still intrigued to read the major works of this man, whom John Adams considered the one who started the American Revolution.
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Our country's history aside, however, I found the most fascinating section of the entire book to be 'The Age of Reason', Paine's scathing attack against Christianity and other "false religions. Until reading it, I don't think I fully grasped just how antagonistic deism is toward the essential elements of Christianity. For example, Paine adamantly believed that what Christianity calls 'general revelation' was the only true 'word of God'.
He rejected the Bible as a "stupid" book his word, not mine! Paine's work is also one of the clearest examples I have ever read of how foolish the cross seems to unbelievers 1 Cor.
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Regarding this particular edition, I wish the editors had included footnotes that provided a historical context for each of Paine's writings. The works included in the book were Paine's responses to specific events, speeches, or documents. It would have been helpful to have that context so that I could make a more informed judgment about whether Paine was effectively arguing his own view while also accurately representing the views of others. May 14, David rated it really liked it. A difficult book to read.
And not all of the ideas got into my head. For example, the endnotes mentions Paine's hatred of George Washington, yet I couldn't encounter that in the book. I could only encounter his dislike of John Adams. That said, some of the ideas in the book are intriguing. For example, how a constitution was a new instrument; Kingdoms never had such a thing-all governance was hereditary. And the constitution was what limited executive power.
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Additionally I had never thought of t A difficult book to read. Additionally I had never thought of taxes and war as friends to a hereditary government, and things a democracy keeps to a minimum. I also learned that John Adams I think wanted to create the Presidency in the manner of a king, with more power, and the balance of power between the branches was not initially added only to the development of the constitution.
Perhaps these ideas are elementary in High School history, but ones I haven't heard of, or have simply forgot. Finally, Paine's attitude towards religions seems sort of like Bill Maher's today, denouncing the bible. He has to be the first historical figure I have heard of who rejected the Judeo-Christian traditions. This was a obtuse, difficult to read book, but I have learned a lot and am grateful to have read it. Aug 18, Kevin rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: Anyone Interested in Common Sense. Thomas Paine's writings are as prevalent today as they were back in the 18th century.
Any Englishman who berates America's struggle has not had the piece of mind to understand Thomas Paine or Colonial America. An American who says "who cares about the bill of rights," has not had the piece of mind to unders Thomas Paine's writings are as prevalent today as they were back in the 18th century. An American who says "who cares about the bill of rights," has not had the piece of mind to understand Thomas Paine or Colonial America. These are the founding principles of freedom, liberty, equality and advancement of a prosperous society. While some comments are dated, and shows Thomas Paine's century of birth, the book remains a testament to American Ideals, and it is only through understanding from whence we came can we progress further to the future utopia imagined in so many fantasy, science fiction, and prophetic creations of mankind.
Excellent collection of Paine's works, which are probably the best American-Revolution era political philosophy I've ever read, or at least aligns with my own thoughts more than any other "founding father". Well, it does until late in his life, when he apparently decides to deride John Adams in every article he writes. At least, it seems like that sometimes. But other than that, Paine hits an important Excellent collection of Paine's works, which are probably the best American-Revolution era political philosophy I've ever read, or at least aligns with my own thoughts more than any other "founding father".
But other than that, Paine hits an important road between moderate real talk and idealistic hopes for the future. I ended up buying a complete collection of his "American Crisis" papers, written while he was a member of Washington's army. This book only had a couple of those papers, but all those selected were great Can't wait to read his thoughts from the front line. Mar 02, Misha marked it as to-read.
I, of course, read Common Sense once upon a time in high school, but can't remember much about it other than the mystique that surrounds Paine's most famous work. I'm thinking about starting a new blog called "Education of a Political Journalist" in which I read and explore American political writings and thought starting with the Enlightenment and working my way to the present day and try to put some current political discussions into context. There's a lot of talk about the Constitution and th I, of course, read Common Sense once upon a time in high school, but can't remember much about it other than the mystique that surrounds Paine's most famous work.
There's a lot of talk about the Constitution and the Founders these days, but I think too many people apply their own modern filters to their words, which would have had a very different meaning and context at the time. But like all ambitious projects, who knows if it will ever see the light of day. Maybe I'll go ahead and create a wordpress account just in case. Jun 29, Adam rated it really liked it Shelves: Still relevant enough in today's time. Should be required reading for all the hacks that want to be voted into house and senate The american govt is becoming exactly what we broke away from in Common sense read in today's context illustrates that.
The others are informative and enlightening. I enjoy how Paine matter of factly explains religion to us in rights of man. Paine's stance on slavery abolition nearly years ahead of the civil war. Also some good Still relevant enough in today's time.
Also some good comments on federalist govt versus states rights. Jan 18, Pat rated it it was ok. This collection of Thomas Paine writings is too complete. Some of the included texts, such as Common Sense, are good reads in that they are still relevant to the modern reader.
They can tell us where we have been and can make us question our modern view of the proper role of government. If those had been the only texts included, this would have been a fine collection. Unfortunately, the texts that ramble about how much people should be taxed were dull and meaningless in the twenty-first century, This collection of Thomas Paine writings is too complete. Unfortunately, the texts that ramble about how much people should be taxed were dull and meaningless in the twenty-first century, and Payne was naive in some of his assumptions, such as population sizes and currency values remaining constant.
Jan 05, Dr. Pete Meyers rated it really liked it. Highly recommended to anyone who wants a diverse view of the American Revolution and the following years.
This was a fascinating follow up to McCullough's Adams biography, especially since Paine and Adams came to be enemies. This includes "Agrarian Justice" and "Age of Reason", one of which essentially proposed the Social Security system, and the other which harshly denounces organized religion. Paine's works really fly in the face of any side claiming that the Founders as a whole had a single v Highly recommended to anyone who wants a diverse view of the American Revolution and the following years.
Paine's works really fly in the face of any side claiming that the Founders as a whole had a single voice.