What are the similarities in theme between the Declaration of Independence and "Common Sense"?
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Thomas Paine wrote "Common Sense" in January of 1776 as a rallying cry to convince colonists to break from Great Britain. The Declaration of Independence was written by Thomas Jefferson in July of 1776, in the middle of the Revolutionary War.
Both the Declaration of Independence and the pamphlet "Common Sense" discuss independence from Great Britain. Both enumerate the offenses that Britain had committed against the North American colonies, including over-taxation and suppressing colonial interests in Parliament.
Both documents discuss the colonies' self-interest in breaking from Great Britain. Paine stated in "Common Sense" that he knows "not a single advantage this continent can reap" by British rule. Likewise, Thomas Jefferson noted in the Declaration that a new form of government would be more conducive to colonists' "safety and happiness."
There are similarities between the pamphlet Common Sense and the document known as the Declaration of Independence. Both documents called for independence from Great Britain. Common Sense was published in January 1776. During this time, there was a lot of discussion about what the colonists should do regarding Great Britain. Common Sense, written by Thomas Paine, explained to the colonists the reasons why they should become free from British rule. One of the things that Thomas Paine focused on was how the King abused the rights of the colonists.
The Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson, formally announced our independence from Great Britain. With the issuing of and adopting of the Declaration of Independence, we told the world that we were now our own country. In the Declaration of Independence, we explained to the world why we needed to declare our independence from Great Britain. We explained in great detail how the King violated the rights of the colonists. The document also stated that when a government fails to protect the rights of its citizens, the people must change the government.
Both documents called for the same thing, which was becoming independent from Great Britain. Both documents also explained the reasons why we should become independent from Great Britain.
Both the Declaration of Independence and Common Sense by Thomas Paine are products of the Enlightenment. In religion, they are fundamentally deistic, accepting a model of religion in which a Creator has endowed humans with reason and a moral sense, but not advocating any specific set of religious beliefs, and instead grounding their arguments in reason based on what they consider self-evident principles.
Both documents assume a form of social contract, in which governments are not inherently endowed with power but instead govern with the consent of the governed, and can and should be replaced when they no longer serve their citizens.
Both documents emphasize that the Colonies had made every effort to reconcile with the King of England, but argue that the English monarchy is unresponsive to the needs of its citizens in the Colonies and attempts to deprive them of their fundamental rights as humans. Both documents advocate independence for the nascent United States.
Thomas Paine’s pamphlet “Common Sense” and The Declaration of Independence have several significant similarities. The first and most obvious similarity shared by both of the aforementioned documents is that they expressed to the American colonists the urgent need to break all political ties with Great Britain. In his well-known pamphlet, "Common Sense," Thomas Paine asks the public, "Why is it that we hesitate? From Britain we can expect nothing but ruin." Thomas Jefferson takes a similar stance in the Declaration of Independence when he says, "The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations..." The second similarity between "Common Sense" and the Declaration of Independence is the pervading theme of the many offenses Great Britain committed against the American colonies. The Declaration of Independence contains a lengthy list of the many American rights that King George III violated. Jefferson describes King George as "a Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant." Thomas Paine describes the British king in a similar, unflattering manner. He said King George was a "crowned ruffian...who hath little more to do than to make war and give away places." The final, and most significant, similarity between the Declaration of Independence and "Common Sense" is the idealistic way that both documents describe the future government of America. In the Declaration, Thomas Jefferson says, "That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness." Jefferson implied with that statement that the new type of democratic republic created by the American colonies would be a just, citizen-centered government opposite of the tyrannical government of Britain. Thomas Paine makes similar claims in "Common Sense" saying that, "The cause of America is in a great measure the cause of all mankind...we have in our power to begin the world again."
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