What did Thomas Paine argue in Common Sense and what impact did it have on the colonists?

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Early in his essay, Thomas Paine makes explicit his purpose in writing Common Sense.

To examine that connexion and dependance, on the principles of nature and common sense, to see what we have to trust to, if separated, and what we are to expect, if dependant.

In other...

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Early in his essay, Thomas Paine makes explicit his purpose in writing Common Sense.

To examine that connexion and dependance, on the principles of nature and common sense, to see what we have to trust to, if separated, and what we are to expect, if dependant.

In other words, Paine sets out to argue the benefits of independence if the American colonies were to separate from Britain and outline the detrimental nature of the relationship were it to continue as the status quo.

Using logic, concession, refutation and both deductive and inductive reasoning as well as appeals to emotion, Paine skillfully argues that it doesn't make sense for a small island empire (Great Britain) to rule over a vast continent located across the Atlantic Ocean. He avers that independence would allow the colonies to trade freely with any other nations, not just the ones that Great Britain allows. He also makes the point that an independent America would no longer be dragged into Great Britain's wars with others.

Aside from Loyalists who preferred to remain with Great Britain for their own reasons of political appointment, lack of faith in an independent government, fear of military annihilation, or other reasons, Common Sense was a sensation in the American colonies, outselling any other publication in the colonies per capita. It was widely read in public gatherings and created an audience for Paine's later pamphlets collected as The American Crisis.

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In a sense, any discussion about the impact of Common Sense by Thomas Paine is rather like the problem of whether the chicken or egg came first. Common Sense was well-received by those already supporting the cause of independence for the American colonies. It may have changed the minds of some people and helped shape the form of government agreed upon by the former colonies, but for a work to be well-received it usually must be the case that the ground has been well-prepared and public sentiment already in favor of its ideas.

The central argument of Common Sense by Thomas Paine is that British rule in North America was unjust and irrational, and that the colonies should become independent. Associated with this are arguments against Britain's "mixed" constitution, arguing that it is an historical legacy rather than a rational form of government. Paine set forth many strong arguments against hereditary monarchy. Paine also argued that the colonies were in a strong position to achieve independence and to prosper as an independent nation.

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