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What do you think are Paine's most important arguments in "Common Sense" that made it...

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jforbes1888 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted September 27, 2009 at 1:45 AM via web

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What do you think are Paine's most important arguments in "Common Sense" that made it so effective?

Specific quotes would be a really effective way to give these examples. Would you compare or contrast the arguments to that of Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Indepence.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 27, 2009 at 2:16 AM (Answer #1)

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Much of Paine's work focuses on the aspect of a political separation.  When he summarizes the relationship between the Colonists and Britain as one where "'Tis time to part," it succinctly articulates the state of conditions between both nations.  Essentially, Paine lays out the economic and political rationale for declaring independence.  In attempting to convince the colonists of the need to leave, Paine paints England as an abusive partner in a relationship that can no longer be salvaged.  It is one where Paine suggest a reasonable argument for leaving.  The violation of the colonists' political state of being, where the freedom to live as one pleases, is only matched by the economic transgressions, the ability to make and keep material wealth, form the crux of Paine's argument.  This becomes critical in Jefferson's writing, where he compares King George to a "royal brute," a direct allusion to Paine's work.  At the same time, the second section of the Declaration of Independence, known as the List of Grievances, is reminiscent of "Common Sense," as Jefferson lists the economic and political wrongs that England has committed against the Colonists.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 27, 2009 at 3:09 AM (Answer #2)

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Author of "The Rights of Man," Thomas Paine in "Common Sense" denounces KIng George III as a "royal brute." Paine appeals to people through rhetorical questions and persuasive argument:

  • In his "Crisis No.1," Paine first puts faith in God as an argument:  "...God Almighty will not give up a people to military destruction, or leave them unsupportedly to perish..."
  • Paine feels that separation is inevitable and men should prepare for it so that their children will have a good life:  "Not a man lives on the continent but fully believes that a separation must...finally take place, and a generous parent should have said, 'If there must be trouble let it be in my day, that my child may have peace'; and this single reflection, ...is sufficient to awaken every man to duty.
  • The militia is assembling; soldiers are in the doorways.  If England is not bellicose, why are soldiers guarding people from their very homes?   "My own line of reasoning is to myself as straight and clear as a ray of light.not all the treasures of the world, so far as I believe, could have induced me to support an offensive war, for I think it murder; but if a thief breaks into my house...and kills or threatens to kill me, or those that are into it...am I to suffer it?"
  • Paine urges the colonists to use common sense: "There are persons too who see not the full extent of the evil which threatens them [the British's increasing their number of soldiers in the colonies]; they solace themselves with hopes that the enemy, if he succeeds, will be merciful.  Is this the madness of folly, to expect mercy from those who have refused to do justice?"
  • Paine argues that all the colonies must unite in their fight against the British:  Mutual fear is the principal link in the chain of mutual love, and woe be to that state that breaks the compact."
  • The colonists must remain steadfast in their purpose:  "By perseverance and fortitude we have the prospect of a glorious issue; by cowardice and submission, the sad choice of a variety of evils--a ravaged country...."

Certainly, Paine's reasoning is much like that of Jefferson, who stated "it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with one another..."  Jefferson, like Paine, feels that the truth of his words is "self-evident" as he mentioned all the injustices done by King George, whom he, too, obviously perceives as a tyrant.

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