In reading Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, I really scratch my head as to why this pamphlet was the document that sparked the American Revolution. It is clear that the impact of this simple little pamphlet had a major impact on the course of this nation. Thomas Paine focused his reader’s attention upon the fact that a nation 3,000 miles away should not be ruled by an unelected family monopoly.
The pamphlet focuses upon the evil of a king, and why it does not make sense that a people be ruled by an unelected family monopoly which has that position because some ancestor had the ability to control the hearts and minds of the people. The pamphlet also lays out the concept that it was not natural for a small island to control a large country.
In order for Common Sense to be such a best seller, it had to put words to the thoughts that were going through the reader’s minds at that time. In 1776, the concept of being ruled by a king was a revolutionary idea. This is what everyone did. All the major countries had kings. Why would America want to leave the system that everyone was using in order to be ruled by their fellow citizens?
While the idea of a representative government seems natural to us, it was an idea foreign to those living in the 1770’s. It took the writings of men like Thomas Paine to educate a nation that a king was not proper, and that they could self-govern.
We must remember that the thoughts contained in this book were so revolutionary that Thomas Paine did not dare put his name on the book. Instead, the pamphlet was published without the name of an author. Remember, politicians who were espousing liberty were at the top of the list for the British army to find and gotten rid of. By not initially putting his name to his famous work, he enabled himself to write other pamphlets that assisted this nation in its infancy.
Thomas Paine finishes the pamphlet by very quickly laying out the reasons why a Declaration of Independence needed to be signed. The number one reason was that if two countries were at war, other countries would hold peace conferences and help mediate the dispute. However, without a Declaration of Independence, no country was going to get in the middle of a dispute (no matter how nasty) between a ruler and her subjects.
Our government has so abused the restraints put upon it by the Constitution. The time has come that this nation instruct itself upon the principles of limited government. We live in a nation that does not understand self-government. We live in a nation that desires to have every need be taken care of by the government. We live in a nation that wants everyone to be tolerant of them and their ideas while not being tolerant to the ideas of others.
It is important to have politicians who stand up for the principles of limited government. However, a few firebrand politicians are not enough. We need a well-educated population that understands and desires self-governance. In the 1770’s pamphlets were the most effective means of communication.
Today it may be tools like Facebook and YouTube that can best reach the eyes of the masses. One of the problems that we are dealing with is the fact that people are not willing to think outside their own little box. If you do not agree with their position, you are not going to be given the time of day.
Just as Thomas Paine was able to harness the thoughts of his fellow countryman and give them the words to shake off the bondage of the British, so to we need a Revolution in this country to awaken the hearts and souls of men to put off the burdensome regulations that stifle our abilities to live a productive and happy life.