What are the material injuries that Britain has done to the colonies, according to Paine in Common Sense?

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In Common Sense (published in January of 1776), Thomas Paine argues that Britain has done material harm to the colonies, and he points to Boston as an example, writing, "The inhabitants of that unfortunate city, who but a few months ago were in ease and affluence, have now, no other...

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In Common Sense (published in January of 1776), Thomas Paine argues that Britain has done material harm to the colonies, and he points to Boston as an example, writing, "The inhabitants of that unfortunate city, who but a few months ago were in ease and affluence, have now, no other alternative than to stay and starve, or turn out to beg." At the time he wrote Common Sense, Boston was occupied by the British, preventing them from conducting trade (the British would evacuate Boston in March of 1776).

Paine emphasized the injuries that the British had inflicted on the colonists in the following passage:

Hath your house been burnt? Hath your property been destroyed before your face? Are your wife and children destitute of a bed to lie on, or bread to live on? Have you lost a parent or a child by their hands, and yourself the ruined and wretched survivor? If you have not, then are you not a judge of those who have. But if you have, and still can shake hands with the murderers, then are you unworthy of the name of husband, father, friend, or lover, and whatever may be your rank or title in life, you have the heart of a coward, and the spirit of a sycophant.

The fighting in the Revolution at this point had been centered in the Boston area, including the battles of Lexington and Concord and the later battle at Bunker Hill, which turned out to be a Pyrrhic victory for the British. The British forces suffered more casualties at that battle than did the colonists. However, Paine emphasizes the damage the British inflicted on civilians' property and the resulting deprivation and starvation the colonists suffered, as well as the loss of civilians in the fighting. He suggests that if people have not suffered those losses, they are in no position to judge those who have and who want to revolt against the British. If they have suffered losses, to continue to be part of Britain is cowardly, he writes.

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When Thomas Paine refers to material injuries in Common Sense, he is referring to how the British have restricted the colonists from developing their own economy. He indicated that Great Britain set up the colonies, not for the benefit of the colonists, but for the benefit of the British. He believed that Great Britain was restricting the colonists economically.

There were many restrictions that were placed on the colonists. They had to buy their products from Great Britain. They had to ship products that were made in the colonies on British ships. The same was true for products that they bought from Great Britain. They had to send raw materials to Great Britain so the British factories could make products for them. The British tried to give a monopoly on the tea trade to the British East India Company. Thomas Paine argued that the British didn’t have the best interests of the colonists in mind by having all of these restrictions. He believed that products made or grown in the colonies would compete in the world marketplace and would bring a fair price to the colonists if they could sell them wherever they wanted to sell them. This was one of many reasons why he felt the colonists should become independent from British rule.

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What Paine is saying here is that the colonies suffer in a number of ways from being tied to Great Britain.  The most important of these is economic.

Paine argues that the colonies do not need Britain economically.  He says that their "corn" would be able to get "its price" in any country of Europe.  He says that any country would be willing to export to the colonies.  For these reasons, they don't really need England.  At the same time, colonial trade is harmed by being tied to England.  This is because England is always at war with someone.  That prevents the colonies from trading with that country or countries.  If America were not tied to England, they could remain neutral and keep trading.  By being tied to Europe, America's options are limited and America is placed in danger that it would not otherwise be in.

When Paine talks about material injuries, he is speaking about economics.

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