Free Essay


In: English and Literature

Submitted By gore2high
Words 487
Pages 2
The following selection from “Common Sense” by Thomas Paine first appeared in 1776, a few months before the colonies formally declared independence from Great Britain. It quickly became one of the most widely-read pamphlets of the era.
I challenge the warmest advocate1 for reconciliation2 to show a single advantage that this continent can reap, by being connected with Great Britain. I repeat the challenge, not a single advantage is derived3. Our corn will fetch4 its price in any market in Europe, and our imported goods5 must be paid for, buy them where we will.
But the injuries and disadvantages we sustain by that connection are without number; and our duty to mankind at large, as well as to ourselves, instructs us to renounce6 the alliance: because any submission to, or dependence on, Great Britain, tends directly to involve this continent in European wars and quarrels, and sets us at variance7 with nations who would otherwise seek our friendship, and against whom we have neither anger nor complaint. . . .
Europe is too thickly planted with kingdoms to be long at peace, and whenever a war breaks out between England and any foreign power8, the trade of America goes to ruin, because of her connection with Britain. . . .
It is the good fortune of many to live distant from the scene of present sorrow9; the evil is not sufficiently brought to their doors to make them feel the precariousness with which all American property is possessed. But let our imaginations transport us for a few moments to Boston; that seat of wretchedness10 will teach us wisdom, and instruct us forever to renounce6 a power in whom we can have no trust. The inhabitants of that unfortunate city, who but a few months ago were in ease and affluence11, have now no other alternative than to stay and starve, or turn out to beg. Endangered by the fire of their friends if they continue within the city, and plundered12 by the soldiery if they leave it, in their present situation they are prisoners without the hope of redemption, and in a general attack for their relief they would be exposed to the fury of both armies. . . .
Every quiet method for peace hath been ineffectual13. Our prayers have been rejected with disdain14; and have tended to convince us that nothing flatters vanity or confirms obstinacy15 in kings more than repeated petitioning16—and nothing hath contributed more than that very measure to make the kings of Europe absolute. Witness Denmark and Sweden. Wherefore, since nothing but blows17 will do, for God's sake let us come to a final separation . . .

1 promoter | 10 unhappiness | | 11 prosperity and wealth | 2 compromise or resolution | 12 stolen | 3 a resultant | 13 useless | 4 bring | 14 disrespect or scorn | 5 products bought from other countries | 15 stubbornness | 6 reject | 16 begging | 7 in conflict | 17 violence | 8 foreign country | 11 prosperity and wealth | 9 sadness | 10 unhappiness |

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