Study Guide

Common Sense Quotes

  • Warfare

    The laying a Country desolate with Fire and Sword, declaring War against the natural rights of all Mankind, and extirpating the Defenders thereof from the Face of the Earth, is the Concern of ever Man to whom Nature hath given the Power of feeling. (I.4)

    Thomas Paine is certain that, in one way or another, Britain has already declared war on America. Now it's just a matter of fighting back. To make anyone queasy about the idea of war feel better, Paine states that a war from American independence will affect freedom all over the world.

    The most plausible plea, which hath ever been offered in favour of hereditary succession, is, that it prevents a nation from civil wars. (2.18)

    Paine knows that some people think a hereditary royal ruler is a good idea because it keeps a country stable and stops it from falling into constant civil war. In the end, though, he thinks this argument is garbage. England has always had a king and it's gone through more than a dozen civil wars.

    In England a king hath little more to do than to make war and give away places; which in plain terms, is to impoverish the nation and set it together by the ears. (2.24)

    Paine rejects the arguments in favor of having a king because the only powers a king has are destructive ones, like declaring war and sending his country into debt. Notice that both of these things involve consequences that the king doesn't have to deal with afterwards.

    Arms, as the last resource, decide this context; the appeal was the choice of the king, and the continent hath accepted the challenge. (3.2)

    For Paine, the King of England has had every opportunity to treat the American colonies with respect and love. But he has thrown away these opportunities to be a tyrant, so now there needs to be a war for American independence.

    Because, any submission to, or dependence on Great Britain, tends directly to involve this continent in European wars and quarrels. (3.18)

    Many Americans don't want to fight Britain because they don't like war. But as Thomas Paine points out, being a British colony actually drags America into even more wars because it gets caught up in all the drama Britain has with other countries.

    Europe is too thickly planted with kingdoms to be long at peace, and whenever a war breaks out between England and any foreign power, the trade of America goes to ruin, because of her connection to England. (3.19)

    Again, Paine insists that remaining under British rule will actually result in more war for America than simply fighting to be free. Britain has all kinds of beefs with all kinds of countries, and when it comes time for war who do you think Britain sends to fight on its behalf? You got it: people from its colonies.

    But the most powerful of all arguments, is, that nothing but independence, i.e. a continental form of government, can keep the peace of the continent and preserve it inviolate from civil wars. (3.38)

    Thomas Paine is certain that the only way to prevent civil war in America is to give the country its independence. He's certain of this because America has the chance to become a true democracy run by elected officials instead of kings, which can keep the citizens happy and thus prevent civil war.

    The republics of Europe are all (and we may say always) in peace. Holland and Switzerland are without wars, foreign or domestic. (3.41)

    As Paine points out, countries with democratically elected leaders tend not to have civil wars the way that countries with kings do. That's obviously because the people living in king-ruled countries get frustrated with having a tyrant who they never elected in the first place… and also because kings are bullies who constantly start fights with other countries.

    No country on the globe is so happily situated, or so internally capable of raising a fleet as America. (4.10)

    Many Americans wouldn't want to go to war with Britain because they'd be afraid America didn't have the power to raise a proper army or navy. Paine wants to put this doubt to rest by showing all his readers exactly why America has this ability: coastline and resources, baby.

    [Our] military ability, at this time, arises from the experience gained in the last war, and which in forty or fifty years time, would have been totally extinct. (A.10)

    At this moment in history (1776), America has a lot of citizens who are still experienced from the last war that affected America. If they wait too long, though, these veterans will get too old to use their knowledge to help America defeat Britain.

  • Injustice

    An inquiry into the constitutional errors in the English form of government is at this time highly necessary; for as we are never in a proper condition of doing justice to others, while we continue under the influence of some leading partiality, so neither are we capable of doing it to ourselves while we remain fettered by any obstinate prejudice. (1.26)

    For Thomas Paine, America cannot be a just society until it frees itself from an unjust political system—namely the system that England uses. For Paine, total democracy is the only way forward as far as justice is concerned.

    [We] see that bribery, corruption, and favouritism are the standing vices of kings. (2.9)

    Kings aren't elected by the people. They're born as rulers and they rule for life, so how can anyone expect justice from them? Sure, you might get a nice king now and then, but that's a pretty huge gamble compared to having a democracy.

    For all men being originally equals, no one by birth could have a right to set up his own family in perpetual preference to all others for ever, and though himself might deserve SOME decent degree of honours of his contemporaries, yet his descendants might be far too unworthy to inherit them. (2.10)

    It's bad enough that a king gets to have power without being elected. But it's even more unjust for his descendants to rule into the future forever. This totally cuts off the possibility that someone who deserves to rule could ever rise to the top.

    But Britain is the parent country, say some. Then the more shame upon her conduct. Even brutes do not devour their young, nor savages make war upon their families. (3.11)

    Many people will argue with Thomas Paine and says that Britain is like a parent to American. But this just makes the injustice worse, says Paine, because no loving parent would ever treat a child as badly as Britain treats America without being considered evil.

    Thousands are already ruined by British barbarity; (thousands more will suffer the same fate). (3.39)

    Paine wants to be as clear as possible when telling his readers that British rule is killing America and ruining the lives of all Americans. If Americans don't step up soon in an armed rebellion, things are only going to get worse.

    [Until] independence is declared, the Continent will feel itself like a man who continues putting off some unpleasant business from day to day, yet knows it must be done. (4.32)

    British injustice has gotten so bad that America has reached a point of no return. Independence is going to come eventually, and there's no point in putting if off for future generations to deal with. That's just cowardice, plain and simple.

    The bloody mindedness of the one, shew the necessity of pursuing the doctrine of the other. (A.1)

    After the initial publication of Common Sense, the King of England made a speech saying that any American efforts to separate from Britain would be crushed with military force. For Paine, the harshness of this response only gives further evidence for why America should free itself from Britain as quickly as possible. Bad move, King.

    The Speech, if it may be called one, is nothing better than a willful audacious libel against the truth, the common good, and the existence of mankind. (A.2)

    The King's Speech that threatens the American people for rebelling is, in Paine's mind, the best reason available for fighting tooth and nail with the British forces. He's had enough of the King's halfhearted lies and unjust threats.

    Our present condition, is, Legislation without law; wisdom without a plan; a constitution without a name. (A.16)

    America can't continue in its present state of injustice without ruining the lives of generations to come. While they still rely on the British, the American people are in chaos, looking for some sense of order but finding none. It's time to seize control and sort this stuff out once and for all.

    The property of no man is secure in the present unbraced system of things. (A.16)

    Until America figures out its own political and legal system, no one's private property is going to be safe. This is partly because the whole country is in chaos, and partly because the British have such brutal tax systems that they can pretty much take whatever they want whenever they want.

  • Patriotism

    The cause of America is in a great measure the cause of all mankind. (I.4)

    Paine isn't modest when he talks about the stakes of American independence. In his mind, Americans aren't just fighting for their own independence, but for the very concept of freedom all over the world. For this reason, oppressed people from all nations should root for the patriots to win.

    Now is the seed-time of continental union, faith and honour. The least fracture now will be like a name engraved with the point of a pin on the tender rind of a young oak; the wound will enlarge with the tree, and posterity read it in full grown characters. (3.4)

    In 1776, Paine insists that Americans need to unite in order to drive the British out of America. Any disunity at this point will only become worse as time drags on.

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

    One of the first things that America should do as an independent country is create a constitution that protects its democracy and the rights of all Americans. Paine makes a good call here, because this is exactly what America would end up doing.

    O ye that love mankind! Ye that dare oppose, not only the tyranny, but the tyrant, stand forth! (3.53)

    For Paine, anyone who believes in freedom from tyranny needs to step up and fight the British. There's just no way around it. You're either on the patriots' side or the evil King of England's.

    O! receive the fugitive, and prepare in time an asylum for mankind. (3.53)

    America isn't just a group of colonies; it's a potential haven for anyone in the world looking for freedom of oppression. Thomas Paine wants America to become the land of freedom and opportunity, and it can never accomplish this until it frees itself from British rule.

    It is not in numbers, but in unity, that our great strength lies; yet our present numbers are sufficient to repel the force of all the world. (4.3)

    It's true that America might not have a ton of people (especially in 1776). But what it lacks in numbers it makes up for in unity. The cause of patriotism can unite Americans from all walks of life through the common goal of achieving independence. Little does Paine know that 100 years after independence was achieved, Americans would turn their violent thoughts on each other and fight a bloody civil war.

    No nation ought to be without a debt. A national debt is a national bond. (4.6)

    Many people are afraid of going to war with the British because it would cost America a lot of money. But according to Paine, nothing brings a country together better than a nice, big debt. Uhhhh… okay. Many people wouldn't argue that today, but oh well. It's not the strongest of Paine's arguments, but you have to admire his gung-ho approach.

    Commerce diminishes the spirit, both of patriotism and military defence. (4.18)

    Many Americans today would suggest that business and commerce are two of the most patriotic things that exist in America. But Thomas Paine is very clear in saying that business is horrible for patriotism because it makes people more interested in personal gain than in their country and community.

    It is now the interest of America to provide for herself. (A.4)

    The time for American patriots to rise up will not be some distant future date. It's right now, and Paine wants his readers to know it, dagnabbit.

    America doth not yet know what opulence is; and although the progress which she hath made stands unparalleled in the history of other nations, it is but childhood, compared with what she would be capable of arriving at, had she, as she ought to have, the legislative powers in her own hands. (A.7)

    America has made a lot of economic progress under British rule. But for Paine, this is just child's play compared to what American will accomplish as an independent nation. Just imagine, Paine says, what the country could do if it held onto all the tax money that Britain keeps bleeding out of it.

  • Passivity

    I have heard it asserted by some, that as America hath flourished under her former connection with Great Britain that the same connection is necessary towards her future happiness, and will always have the same effect. (3.7)

    Some people argue that American's connection with Britain is the main reason America has grown to be such a successful place. But the truth is that Britain is just holding America back and the only way to make things better is with armed conflict. Sorry pacifists, but it time to fight.

    I challenge the warmest advocate for reconciliation, to shew, a single advantage that this continent can reap, by being connected with Great Britain. (3.17)

    Thomas Paine is well aware that people have lots of reasons for not going to war with Britain. But he still likes to challenge people to give one good reason why they shouldn't. Why does he do this? Well, probably because he's the one writing and no one has a chance to talk back.

    [A] certain set of moderate men, who think better of the European world than it deserves; and this last class, by an ill-judged deliberation, will be the cause of more calamities to this continent, than all the other three. (3.21)

    For Paine, the most dangerous people in America are those who give Britain more credit than it deserves as a ruling power. Anyone who could possibly think that Britain is good is only going to poison the minds of true, patriotic Americans who need to stand up and fight for what's right.

    Men of passive tempers look somewhat lightly over the offenses of Britain, and, still hoping for the best, are apt to call out, " Come, come, we shall be friends again, for all this." (3.23)

    There are also lots of people in the U.S. who simply wish that America could get along with its enemies and become friends. Paine dismisses this argument as naïve to the point of childish. He is, after all, trying to get people to pick up guns and shoot at British soldiers, and he can't allow any doubt to creep into his readers' heads.

    Your future connection with Britain, whom you can neither love nor honor will be forced and unnatural, and being formed only on the plan of present convenience, will in a little time fall into a relapse more wretched than the first. (3.23)

    Paine is certain that sooner or later, America's bond with Britain is bound to dissolve. The only question is whether this will happen now or later. Pacifists want it to happen later so that other people will have to deal with it. But Paine thinks this is beyond irresponsible.

    But if you say, you can still pass the violations over, then I ask, Hath your house been burnt? Hath your property been destroyed before your face! Are your wife and children destitute of a bed to lie on, or bread to live on? (3.23)

    Paine thinks that a lot of the people who are against war with Britain are just people who haven't been directly affected by British violence. In this case, he says that these people aren't fit to have an opinion on the issue of war because they haven't seen the true destruction that being tied to England brings.

    But if you have, and still can shake hands with the murderers, then are you unworthy of the name of husband, father, friend, or lover, and whatever may be your rank or title in life, you have the heart of a coward, and the spirit of a sycophant. (3.23)

    For those people who have faced British violence and still want to submit to British rule, Paine gives his biggest criticism. He says that these people aren't fit to have families if they aren't willing to fight for them.

    It is not in the power of Britain or of Europe to conquer America, if she do not conquer herself by delay and timidity. (3.24)

    At the end of the day, it won't be British force that conquers America. It'll be the fear and indecision of all the people who don't like the idea of going to war. For Paine, this kind of behavior is unforgiveable.

    Every quiet method for peace hath been ineffectual. Our prayers have been rejected with disdain. (3.26)

    The pacifists have had their time. America has explored every possible option for a peaceful existence with Britain, but Britain insists on throwing peace back in America's face over and over. So now America has no choice but to go to war.

    Ye that oppose independence now, ye know not what ye do; ye are opening a door to eternal tyranny, by keeping vacant the seat of government. (3.50)

    Paine worries at one point that the people opposing the war with Britain don't truly understand what the impact of their actions will be. They don't realize that they're paving the way for a tyrant to keep ruling over America into the future, bringing chaos and violence to all Americans along the way. Paine knows that if these people could go into the future and see the consequences of their actions, they'd support the war.

  • Race

    [The] quiet and rural lives of the first patriarchs hath a happy something in them, which vanishes away when we come to the history of Jewish royalty. (2.3)

    According to Paine, the first peoples of the world lived a happy existence until the Jewish people ruined everything by creating the tradition of having kings as rulers. In Paine's time, blaming the Jewish people for the problems of human civilization was unfortunately a common thing.

    Government by kings was first introduced into the world by the Heathens, from whom the children of Israel copied the custom. (2.4)

    Monarchy is probably the worst thing in the world as far as Thomas Paine is concerned. And he more or less blames the Jewish people, or "children of Israel" for bringing this scourge into the modern world.

    Monarchy is ranked in scripture as one of the sins of the Jews, for which a curse in reserve is denounced against them. (2.7)

    Thomas Paine is basically saying that one day, God will punish the Jewish people for bringing the scourge of monarchy into the world. Just to make things clear, he never really says where he's getting the idea that the Jewish people invented the idea of monarchy. But to say that God will one day punish them suggests that the dude is really anti-Semitic.

    The hankering which the Jews had for the idolatrous customs of the Heathens, is something exceedingly unaccountable. (2.9)

    According to Paine, the Jewish people are a bunch of idolaters, meaning that they tend to worship certain people and objects instead of worshipping the one true God. Paine has no clue why the Jews are this way, but he's certain that they are. Again, it's not clear what his evidence is for this claim, apart from his own prejudices.

    [But] as few or no records were extant in those days, and traditional history stuffed with fables, it was very easy, after the lapse of a few generations, to trump up some superstitious tale, conveniently timed, Mahomet like, to cram hereditary right down the throats of the vulgar. (2.12)

    Back in the old days, it was easy to make up a legend or old story to explain why a certain family got to produce kings instead of anyone else's. Paine compares this makeshift belief systems to the Muslim religion ("Mahomet like") and suggests that Islamic people are just as ignorant as the Jewish people are. Basically, he's saying that only white Christians know what they're talking about. Ugh.

    This is supposing the present race of kings in the world to have had an honourable origin. (2.12)

    Many people think that their kings come from noble races that go back centuries. But Paine is quick to point out that all the kings of England have come from William the Conqueror, a French barbarian who took over England way back in the day. Therefore, every king who has come after him is not from a great English line, like people want to believe.

    But Britain is the parent country, say some. Then the more shame upon her conduct. Even brutes do not devour their young, nor savages make war upon their families. (3.11)

    When it comes time for Paine to criticize Britain, he compares their behavior to that of "savages" or Native Americans. Or in this case, he says that not even savages hurt the people they love, meaning that the Brits are even worse than savages for causing so much harm to their colonies. The main point here is that Native Americans are savage, but the British are even worse. The argument relies on racist assumptions either way.

    There are thousands, and tens of thousands, who would think it glorious to expel from the continent that barbarous and hellish power, which hath stirred up the Indians and Negroes to destroy us. (3.50)

    Paine accuses the British of causing unrest with the black slaves and Native Americans, which might one day lead both of these groups to attack the white American settlers. Eventually, both of these groups would do exactly this. But Paine's fear shows his deep-seated concern about the fact that Native Americans and African slaves have very good reasons to want to hurt the so-called "freedom-loving" Americans.

    And every line convinces, even in the moment of reading, that He, who hunts the woods for prey, the naked and untutored Indian, is less a Savage than the King of Britain. (A.2)

    Once again, Paine takes a shot at the King of Britain by saying that even a savage Native American is better than him. It also happens to be an insult to Native Americans, who Paine sees as a bunch of uncultured animals.

    [And] we, or those who may succeed us, would have been as ignorant of martial matters as the ancient Indians. (A.10)

    Paine believes that America must attack the British immediately while they still have men in their country with good military knowledge. If they wait too long, these people will get old and die off. Then they'll be left with no more military knowledge than the "ancient Indians" of America. In other word, he thinks America will go into a primitive state of knowledge, which of course assumes that the traditional knowledge of Native Americans is worthless and primitive.

  • Society and Class

    Secondly—the remains of the aristocratical tyranny in the persons of the peers. (1.12)

    On top of having a king, England has an entire shelf of upper class society that's dominated by aristocrats who, like the king, inherit all of their money and status without ever having to work for it. Paine hopes that a future America will be able to do better.

    But there is another and greater distinction, for which no truly natural or religious reason can be assigned, and that is, the distinction of men into kings and subjects. (2.2)

    It's really pretty simple for Thomas Paine: the existence of kings goes entirely against the natural order of things. Nature would never reward a certain lion simply for being the son of another lion. If that lion was weak, something would kill it, plain and simple. It wouldn't be able to hide behind a throne.

    The king and the aristocrats of England have nothing to do with the rest of English society. They just sit on their fortunes and contribute nothing to making their country a better place. That makes Tommy boy mighty mad.

    In the early stages of the world, according to the scripture chronology, there were no kings; the consequence of which was, there were no wars; it is the pride of kings which throw mankind into confusion. (2.3)

    Paine believes that the only reason there is war in the world is because countries are ruled by kings that aren't elected by their people. Paine then demonstrates through the examples of Holland and Switzerland that societies with democratically elected leaders tend never to go to war.

    As the exalting one man so greatly above the rest cannot be justified on the equal rights of nature, so neither can it be defended on the authority of scripture; for the will of the Almighty, as declared by Gideon and the prophet Samuel, expressly disapproves of government by kings. (2.5)

    There's nothing in nature that says people should respect and obey someone just because that person was born into the right family. In nature, all the power goes to the animals that are either the strongest or the hardest working. For Paine, the only natural way to live is in a world where exceptional people are able to rise in society based on their merits.

    Here was a temptation in its fullest extent; not a kingdom only, but an hereditary one. (2.8)

    Paine largely blames the Jewish people for bringing monarchy into the modern world. And worse yet, (Paine says) they're responsible for the concept of hereditary monarchy—meaning that all of a certain king's descendants get to rule after he has died. Being a king would be one thing if you were elected for life. But being a king for the totally arbitrary reason of birth is more than Paine can stand.

    To the evil of monarchy we have added that of hereditary succession. (2.10)

    Kings are horrible as far as Paine is concerned. But what's just as bad is the idea of heredity, meaning that all of a king's descendants get to have total power regardless of whether they're good or bad. A king could be a total fool and it wouldn't matter, since kings aren't elected by the people.

    A small number of electors, or a small number of representatives, are equally dangerous. (4.23)

    In envisioning a future American society, Paine worries about making the number of voters too small. He thinks that the more people who can vote, the more a democracy will be able to represent the true values of its society. To have only a few voters would run the risk of recreating the British system, where only a handful of people get to call the shots.

    Since the publication of the first edition of this pamphlet, or rather, on the same day on which it came out, the King's Speech made its appearance in this city. (A.1)

    It turns out that the same day Thomas Paine published his original Common Sense pamphlet, a Speech from the King of England came to America and threatened anyone who dared disobey England. Paine takes these treats as just more evidence of how America needs to develop its own society instead of listening to an old windbag who never earned a dime in his life.

    But this general massacre of mankind is one of the privileges, and the certain consequence of Kings. (A.2)

    When a country fails to reward those with the most talent or the best work ethic, it collapses into tyranny. And that's something that hurts everybody, according to Paine.

  • Religion

    As the exalting one man so greatly above the rest cannot be justified on the equal rights of nature, so neither can it be defended on the authority of scripture; for the will of the Almighty, as declared by Gideon and the prophet Samuel, expressly disapproves of government by kings. (2.5)

    There is no way the Bible would ever support the idea of a king ruling over people. The king is a sort of all-powerful being, and the only one in the universe who deserves this kind of power is God. Or at least that's what Paine thinks.

    And when a man seriously reflects on the idolatrous homage which is paid to the persons of kings, he need not wonder that the Almighty, ever jealous of his honor, should disapprove of a form of government which so impiously invades the prerogative of heaven. (2.6)

    When any serious person thinks about how wrong it is to treat kings like gods, they'll see that the only way to really please God is to create a democracy that is of the people, by the people, and for the people.

    And man hath good reason to believe that there is as much of kingcraft, as priestcraft, in withholding the scripture from the public in Popish countries. (2.9)

    In "Popish" or Catholic countries, regular folks are kept from reading the Bible for themselves. Instead, they have to listen to priests who interpret it for them. For Paine, though, this is just a sign of how corrupt it is for societies to be based on inequalities that have no basis in nature.

    Even the distance at which the Almighty hath placed England and America, is a strong and natural proof, that the authority of the one, over the other, was never the design of Heaven. (3.19)

    Paine looks at the massive distance between America and England as God's way of saying that the one should never rule over the other. It's a bit of a stretch even for a religious argument, but oh well.

    Securing freedom and property to all men, and above all things, the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience. (3.47)

    For Paine, there's nothing more important to the future of America than people's right to practice their religion in whatever way they see fit. And that's that.

    But where, says some, is the King of America? I'll tell you. Friend, he reigns above, and doth not make havoc of mankind like the Royal Brute of Britain. (3.49)

    When people ask Thomas Paine who the king of America is, his answer is that God is the only true king of America. Everybody else is just an elected representative of the people.

    As to religion, I hold it to be the indispensable duty of all government, to protect all conscientious professors thereof. (4.21)

    For Paine, it is the responsibility of government to protect anyone wishing to practice a certain religion. At this time in history, though, Britain was doing just the opposite.

    For myself, I fully and conscientiously believe, that it is the will of the Almighty, that there should be diversity of religious opinions among us: It affords a larger field for our Christian kindness. (4.21)

    Thomas Paine believes that only good will come from having lots of different people practice different religions in America. This will help people keep open minds and become more accepting toward other people, which are core values of Christianity.

    The king and his worthless adherents are got at their old game of dividing the Continent, and there are not wanting among us, Printers, who will be busy in spreading falsehoods. (A.17)

    For Paine, there is no person in the world who's a bigger insult to God than the King of England. This is because the King goes around posing as a god himself, demanding that everybody worship and respect him when he's done nothing to earn it.

    [The] example which ye have unwisely set, of mingling religion with politics, may be disavowed and reprobated by every inhabitant of America. (A.40)

    At the end of his pamphlet, Paine seems to be fed up with arguing against all those who want to resist war with Britain. When confronted with a Quaker who argues that Americans should trust God to take care of them instead of making war, Paine simply says that it's not good to mix religion and politics. Which is strange, considering how often he uses God in his earlier arguments.

  • Freedom

    That the king is not to be trusted without being looked after, or in other words, that a thirst for absolute power is the natural disease of monarchy. (1.17)

    For Paine, it's impossible to have a king as your leader and still live in a free country. In a free country, decisions should be made by leaders who've been elected by the people. Not Native Americans or black slaves, though. Paine is only talking about freedom for white men.

    Did it [monarchy] ensure a race of good and wise men it would have the seal of divine authority, but as it opens a door to the foolish, the wicked, and the improper, it hath in it the nature of oppression. (2.16)

    One of the reasons monarchy ruins freedom is because it gives power to a bunch of people who totally don't deserve it. In Paine's mind, it's hard to separate freedom from justice. If you're living in a society that isn't just, then it isn't really free either.

    For it is the republican and not the monarchical part of the constitution of England which Englishmen glory in, viz. the liberty of choosing an house of commons from out of their own body—and it is easy to see that when republican virtue fails, slavery ensues. (2.23)

    The only thing good about the English political system, according to Paine, is the fact that some of their representatives get elected. But that's cold comfort when these people still have a king and an aristocracy ruling over them.

    Hither have they fled, not from the tender embraces of the mother, but from the cruelty of the monster; and it is so far true of England, that the same tyranny which drove the first immigrants from home, pursues their descendants still. (3.11)

    The first people who emigrated to America are those who have sought shelter from their oppressive homelands. And that's exactly why America needs to make good on its promise and become a place of total freedom. Unfortunately, the powers-that-be in England still tend to clamp down on freedom from halfway across the world.

    And as [the king] hath shewn himself such an inveterate enemy to liberty, and discovered such a thirst for arbitrary power. (3.34)

    It's one thing to have a king; it's another to have a king who's especially hateful toward his people's freedom. Unfortunately, the people of Thomas Paine's time have gotten stuck with a really mean king who'll go out of his way to squash freedom whenever he can.

    But the most powerful of all arguments, is, that nothing but independence, i.e. a continental form of government, can keep the peace of the continent and preserve it inviolate from civil wars. (3.38)

    Freedom isn't just necessary to protect the rights of individuals. It's necessary in order to keep the people of a country satisfied with their political system. If people don't feel free, they'll eventually fall into civil war. And Paine would much rather see the Americans fight the British than see them fighting one another.

    If there is any true cause of fear respecting independence, it is because no plan is yet laid down. (3.42)

    Some people might be afraid of being free from Britain because they have no clue what that kind of freedom would look like. It's kind of like when a housecat sneaks outside for the first time and doesn't quite know what to do with its newfound freedom.

    Securing freedom and property to all men, and above all things, the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience. (3.47)

    For Paine, the two central freedoms of an independent America need to be the freedom to own property and the freedom to practice any religion a person wants to. When he says freedom of property here, Paine is specifically criticizing the brutally high taxes that the British made the Americans pay.

    A government of our own is our natural right. (3.50)

    When Paine feels as though he has made enough arguments for freedom, he comes out and simply states that self-government is America's right according to nature. It's hard to argue with that kind of blunt statement.

    [And] until we consent, that the seat of government, in America, be legally and authoritatively occupied, we shall be in danger of having it filled by some fortunate ruffian […] and then, where will be our freedom? (4.21)

    Until America is able to elect its own government, it'll never be a free country. And in the meantime, the country will just keep living with rulers who've been sent from Britain (a country that couldn't care less about the welfare of Americans).