Study Guide

Common Sense U.S. Constitution

By Thomas Paine

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U.S. Constitution

Nothing symbolic about the Constitution, Shmoopers. This is the real deal: it's a concept rather than an image or an allegory.

Thomas Paine isn't just worried about America becoming free from Britain. He's also concerned about what'll happen afterwards, since he already takes future American independence as a given. Way to be cocky, Paine. Aren't you afraid you'll jinx it?

In order to avoid making the same mistakes Britain did, he argues that The United States needs to create a sacred document that will force all future leaders to follow proper democratic processes. As he writes,

The conferring members being met, let their business be to frame a continental charter, or Charter of the United Colonies. (3.47)

What he's basically talking about here is the seed of what would become the United States Constitution.

In his sketch of a constitution, Paine insists that any political ruler needs to be elected by the people in order to fight for the interested of those people. He gets quite specific at times, saying things like:

… let the assemblies be annual, with a President only. The representation more equal. Their business wholly domestic, and subject to the authority of a Continental Congress. (3.43)

Some is this is really accurate in its predictions of a future American system. It's almost as if the people designing the thing took Paine's advice on almost everything.

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