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When America needed some “Common Sense”

On January 10th 1776 a 47 page pamphlet written by an anonymous writer was published in the English colonies. The mood in the colonies was one of  uneasiness as open revolt was beginning to flare up in the New England colonies.  Deep divisions over the debate for independence from mother England were gripping many of the colonists.  Many colonists feared just entertaining the idea of breaking away from England was treason and punishable by death.  They believed that the differences they had with the crown could be reconciled.  Then a 39 year pamphleteer who just two years earlier lived in England wrote one of the most compelling arguments in favor of  independence; an argument the colonists could no longer ignore.  This man was Thomas Paine and 235 years ago today his 47 page pamphlet titled “Common Sense” was published.  It sold over 500,000 copies and united a people to stand up against tyranny.

Yesterday I sat down and reread the words of this remarkable piece of work that stirred the emotions of a people who came to realize that their differences with King George were irreconcilable.  The first paragraph set the tone.

SOME writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher.

You can read the entire document here.

A fire for liberty burned in Thomas Paine, something that is sadly missing today in the majority of Americans.  You see tyranny is tyranny whether it wears a crown or a suit and tie.  When a government imposes its will upon the people through regulation and policy against the the wishes of its people how is this any different than the actions of King George?  The answer is it isn’t.  Liberty is something we must constantly fight for because there are forces that desire to steal them from us through deception and manipulation.  They will use a crisis or some sort of perceived problem to justify the surrendering of a few liberties so we can be safe and secure.  This is what happened with the Patriot Act, the Financial Reform Law, ObamaCare, and the TSA strip searches at the airport.  We surrendered our rights in the name of homeland security, financial peace of mind, health care, and airline security and they were more than happy to take them.  Today many people have chosen to look to King George for protection and guidance because they are no longer self-reliant.  This choice is a steady path towards bondage and slavery.  Our society has lost the fire for liberty that burned in our founders.  With each embrace of a government regulation or policy that is conceived to protect us in some way we lose that which our founders fought so hard to achieve…freedom.   We have thrown common sense out the window and replaced it with ignorance and apathy.

Perhaps it’s time again for a dose of common sense to remind us that liberty and freedom is worth fighting for.  Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” came at a time when colonists needed it most.  It reinforced the basic idea that we don’t need kings as rulers, all we need is each other and self determination.  We can be that people again, but it will take another awakening of the spirit that cherishes liberty and the realization that we are once again under the thumb of King George.

Take the time today to honor Mr. Paine by reading Common Sense.  You just might be moved by the same words that inspired a revolution.

Liberty forever, freedom for all!


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  • Colin January 10, 2011 at 1:55 AM

    I was thinking of writing what I am about to say in a separate post, but you have afforded me an excellent segue so I will do so here.

    You can find Common Sense and over 16,000 other classics of literature on for free. They are the e-book versions, readable by their kindle for pc application, but I can’t recommend this program or the free books highly enough. I myself am currently reading multiple books by Aristotle, Plato, Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography, Machiavelli, and a lot of writer’s I never heard of but have influenced thought over the years. Not to mention there is a ton of classic fiction that are little jewels if you are into fiction.

    I have already planted the seeds to my wife and daughter that an actual Kindle would be the greatest present I could receive for my birthday in March, so hopefully they don’t think I am kidding, lol. But again, check out amazon and get a copy of Common Sense or how about something by Toqueville or US Grant’s Civil War memoirs? It really is an impressive collection.
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  • Steve Dennis January 10, 2011 at 5:33 AM

    Common Sense is a must read for all Americans! I haven’t read it in awhile but now I just might have to read it tonight. Thomas Paine put into words what many people were thinking, but it wasn’t until he wrote it that independence was more firmly grasped as the reason for fighting the war.
    I think that there are too many Americans who haven’t read enough about our founding; they do not understand how far we have drifted away from the founding principles because they don’t know what they are. Too many Americans think that the government is there to provide for them instead of providing for themselves and until we change this mindset we will be fighting a losing battle.
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    • John Carey January 10, 2011 at 6:20 AM

      It had been awhile since I had last read it. So it was a good thing to reread it yesterday. It really doesn’t take that long. I feel that it is very important that Americans read some of these original works that inspired Americans from all walks for life. It’s important to know where we came from and to be reminded that liberty does matter, even today. Thanks for the comments Steve.
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  • Infidel de Manahatta January 10, 2011 at 8:40 AM

    Thanks for the post. We should all read Common Sense. The similarities between 2011 and 1776 are truly depressing.
    Infidel de Manahatta recently posted..Brutal Civil War Rages on Island of Misfit ToysMy Profile

  • Jim Gourdie January 10, 2011 at 11:55 AM

    Infidel de Manahatta took the words right out of my mouth. Thanks for such a marvellous source. I’ve saved it and will read it all tonight.
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  • Matt January 10, 2011 at 7:21 PM

    Great work John, It seems we operate so much on fear anymore. We are afraid of physical threats to the degree that we sacrifice out liberties. We are afraid of losing what we have, so we give the government more power to ruin our economy. The list goes on and on. We the people need to grow a pair and be as self sufficient as possible. That, however, will have to come from us.
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