Explain Thomas Paine's criticism of the Quakers in Common Sense.

Paine suggests that Quakers, who do not fight in wars, should be treated as a group of people who may choose to side with either the British and Loyalists or the American revolutionaries. He attempts to persuade them that they are putting themselves in a dangerous position by choosing to support Britain. Paine uses the word "we" throughout this section to refer to the Americans fighting for independence from Britain, and he says that Quakers will be forced into making their own decisions about which side they want to be on. Paine seems to imply that Quakers may be labeled traitors if they support the British. Paine tries to soften his criticism of Quakers by noting that many good Christian people are also pacifists.

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Near the end of the appendix to Common Sense, Paine implies that the pacifism of Quakers makes them passively subject to any style of government that is put into place over them.

Because Paine's purpose is to increase support for the Revolutionary War and the colonies' independence from Britain,...

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Near the end of the appendix to Common Sense, Paine implies that the pacifism of Quakers makes them passively subject to any style of government that is put into place over them.

Because Paine's purpose is to increase support for the Revolutionary War and the colonies' independence from Britain, he needs to persuade Quakers to support the war despite their philosophy that God's will puts governments in control over people.

Paine needs to vilify the British to persuade Quakers to defend themselves, and he does so by characterizing the war as defensive on the part of the colonists and offensive on the part of the British. It is perhaps his best move in trying to persuade this particular group that some causes are worth fighting for.

At the end of the appendix he points out that Quakers in an independent America would "fully and uninterruptedly enjoy every civil and religious right" and that they should work to secure those rights for their fellow Christians. He criticizes them for setting the example of "mingling religion with politics" because he sees the need for political independence as a civil, not spiritual, matter.

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Paine’s criticism of the Quakers comes in an appendix to Common Sense.  It is perhaps more appropriate to say that Paine is criticizing the leaders of the Quakers.  He is criticizing them for their lack of support for the Revolutionary War.

To understand this, let us first think about what Paine’s goal in Common Sense was and about who the Quakers were.  Paine’s goal in this pamphlet was to whip up support for the American Revolution.  He was writing in late 1775, when it was not yet clear if American colonists would support independence.  He was strongly in favor of fighting for that goal.  The Quakers, meanwhile, were pacifists.  Their religion forbade violence for any purpose.  Therefore, the Quaker leaders were, at the time that Paine wrote, opposed to fighting for independence.

It is for this reason that Paine criticizes the Quaker leaders.  He says that they should not mix religion with politics.  He says that he hopes

…that the example which ye have unwisely set, of mingling religion with politics, MAY BE DISAVOWED AND REPROBATED BY EVERY INHABITANT OF AMERICA.

He also says that the Quaker leaders are making a mistake in who they blame for the war.  He thinks that they should blame the British because it was the British (Paine argues) who started the violence.  Paine says it is wrong to blame the colonists for defending themselves.    He says that

It is the violence which is done and threatened to our persons; the destruction of our property by an armed force; the invasion of our country by fire and sword, which conscientiously qualifies the use of arms…

So, Paine is criticizing the Quaker leaders for their failure to support the Revolution.  He thinks that they are blaming the Americans for the violence when they should be blaming the British.  He thinks that the Quaker leaders should not mix religion and politics.  

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