Thomas Paine will forever live on in many of our eyes based on the impact he had in the world. Common Sense, was a political pamphlet that was written in the 1770s, to be specific 1776. This document is considered by many including me, to be one of the main driving forces behind the growing public opinion in support of America’s liberation from the oppressive tyranny of the monarchial Mother of England. Do you think many of us have a point? Was Thomas Paine’s document the main force behind growing public opinion?
In Common Sense, Thomas Paine not only touches upon the topic of America’s unavoidable freedom from England, but also delivers a scathing criticism on the monarchy of England, and its continued existence in a world where such forms of government were quickly being realized as inferior and medieval. Paine’s stance on monarchies, is not one that is a king to a religious or political fervor, but of an opinion that is thought-out and methodical. Paine’s argument for the inferiority of the English form of government is a sound one. Paine also eventually argues that a society is formed to be able to aid one another in tasks and goals that no one man could naturally accomplish on one’s own, and a government is formed shortly after to ensure justice and order in this new society of men. In these beginnings of a government, every man in this new society would naturally have a say in the going’s on of his community. Thomas Paine remarks that herein lies the true nature and equality of men, and “not on the unmeaning name of King”.
He goes on to argue that in the monarchy of England, lie 2 outdated forms of rule, in which monarchial (in the person of the King) and aristocratical tyranny (in the persons of the peers) naturally lead to abuse of power and influence. And a 3rd power, taking form in the Commons. These 3 powers were meant to provide outside checks and balances to the influence of the King in the monarchy, but instead serve as nothing more than a “farcical” attempt at providing a means in which to limit the absolute power of the King. In truth, the King had the power to reject or take back any new laws or limits that the Commons would propose against him, rendering the entire constitution useless by all definitions.
After all, if the King could deem himself wiser than those who would advise him, the English Constitution (in Paine’s eyes) was nothing more but a “mere absurdity!”. Paine continues his relentless criticism, shifting focus onto the figure of a King himself as shown in the many quotes in this link (http://thepillarsofliberty.com/classical-liberty-foundation/common-sense-thomas-paine/of-the-origin-and-design-of-government-in-general-with-concise-remarks-on-the-english-constitution) In another of Paine’s arguments against the concept of a monarchy, the symbol that is the King is pretty much useless, along with the system made to limit the powers of the King. And if this was the case, then what right did the English monarchy have in denying America the opportunity to, perhaps, create something better?
As Thomas Paine was well aware, with monarchies, eventually comes the problem of successions. In chapter 2 of his pamphlet, Paine further discusses the problems concerning monarchies, instead opting to reach a new level within his audience, taking a religious standpoint, and frequently citing the Bible as evidence that the Heavens themselves expressly disapprove of such human folly. “In the early ages of the world, according to the scripture chronology, there were no Kings; the consequence in which was there were no wars; it is the pride of Kings which throw mankind into confusion”. He goes on to cite Holland as an example of a prosperous government, with no King. Paine eventually delves into the inherently glaring problem of hereditary succession. The first King in a line, might merit some form of praise or credit from his peers, in whatever manner he came upon his title and throne, however, who is to say that his successors/inheritors are worthy of taking such a position? As Thomas pain stated in one of his quotes “One of the strongest natural proofs of the folly of hereditary right in Kings, is, that nature disapproves it, otherwise she would not so frequently turn it into ridicule by giving mankind an ass for a lion”. Yet, Paine knew that just because one line showed one good king, and did not guarantee that the rest of the kings who proceeded would be of merit.
After all, England had its fair share of tyrants, in fact more so than any good kings. Thomas Paine was not the only one with contempt for the British monarchy. However, other dissenters would not speak for many reasons other than that; whether it be from fear, superstition, or the tried and true reason of monetary gain. Paine would even cite tradition as a reason for the continued existence of the monarchy. When your entire line of ancestors has lived under the same form of government for hundreds of years, some might feel compelled to continue that tradition. Some would even say that to break from such a tradition would bring the downfall of one’s own country, as Paine would explain and eventually prove to be correct in many ways. To Paine, the monarchy and hereditary succession were just endless cycles, doomed to eventually fail. And even though Paine was most critical of the English monarchy, his writings could be applied to monarchies all over the globe till this day. Paine was just one of the many who realized that the power and concept of the monarchy was a fading relic to/of a dying way of life.
Countries were rapidly trending upwards, the views of society were changing, centuries of religion were being questioned from all sides and angles. The changes occurring not only in America and England, but also in places such as France, Spain, Sweden, Portugal, and every other major country at the time, were radical enough to threaten the status quo of anyone with authority. Thomas Paine’s pamphlet carried with it a wave of liberty and freedom that would affect the Earth for the next several hundred years. This will continue to live on and be talked about forever because it had a huge impact in many different levels.