Thomas Paine’s Political Views And Theories

Thomas Paine was an international revolutionist, controversialist, and pamphleteer who argued that Americans should gain independence from Britain. Paine was a member of the French National Convection 1792 – 1795 and had various texts; however, the most common is “common sense” (Marker). This study will evaluate Paine’s distinctive understanding of human freedom and the new American government, and how religion complicates their concerns in developing his theory.

Even after America had liberated itself from British rule, some prominent colonists still pledged their loyalty to the monarchy. However, it took Paine a 47 text distributed in more than 500,000 copies to change the people’s minds (Marker). One of the main arguments in the text was that America was home to free people. Paine argued that although most of America had proved to be a wrong mother to its citizens, they still owed it loyalty. In his text, Paine wrote, “Even brutes do not devour their young, nor savages make war upon their families” (Frick 256). Thus, he urged the Americans to stop betraying their country and pledging loyalty to the British monarch. In his text, he stated that America was connected to people globally who wanted to move out of the oppressor’s hands. He wrote, “This new world hath been the asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and religious liberty from every part of Europe” (Thiele 24). This showed that Paine advocated for the freedom of Americans from civil and religious oppression.

Paine’s text enlightened the people that America had an opportunity to create self-rule through their government. “This new world hath been the asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and religious liberty from every part of Europe” (Frick 256). According to Paine, it was investible for colonies to break free when the right time came. He emphasized that both the British and Americans knew there would come a time when the Americans would break free.: “I have never met with a man, either in England or America, who hath not confessed his opinion that a separation between the countries would take place one time or the other” (Benesch). Thus, he urged the American people to create their own government and rule themselves. America has some of the widely needed resources such as iron, hemp, timber, and the skills required to revolutionize its economy. In addition, they had enough manpower to come up with their army. The colonists could put aside their differences and come together and form a powerful nation. This text motivated the US to start and form its own government, which was the start of freedom.

Paine went further to advise the Americans on the role of the government towards their freedom. He explained to the people that the government should be formed to serve and help them solve problems collectively. However, for the government to achieve these goals, it must listen to people’s problems and respond optimally. According to Paine, the British rule failed over the Americans because most of the power to elect people in parliament was given to the monarch and noble persons. In his text, Paine wrote, the constitution of England is so exceedingly complex, that the nation may suffer for years together without being able to discover in which part the fault lies, some will say in one and some in another, and every political physician will advise a different medicine (Frick 253). This implied that the American government was supposed to give people the freedom to elect their representatives so that it would be easier for their needs to reach the top government officials.

Paine advised Americans against having a king to advocate for their freedom. Paine had seen how the monarch system of the British rule had affected them and their wellbeing. In his article, Paine did not acknowledge the role of a king in the government. He wrote, “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” (Benesch 33). This showed that the king was merely there to exploit the people’s resources and accrue wealth to himself and the first family. However, having a president duly elected by the people who could be subjected to impeachments provided a sense of responsibility for the people. In addition, Paine wrote that it was better for a person to be honest before the eyes of God and society than be given eight hundred thousand a year and worshipped in a bargain. (Biggar 88). This implied having an elected president would be much better and more worthy than having a king.

Paine proposed that the people have a constitution to ensure that the new government upheld the people’s rights and freedom. The other thing was a central government that would protect the constitution and ensures it was upheld. He stated that a firm bargain and a right reckoning make long friends (Thiele 28). This was because he knew that without a centralized government, America would be easy to manipulate and exploit because of the divided interests of the people. However, by using a centrally monitored constitution and having a government body, which is the government, to enforce it, people would be treated fairly (Thiele 29). In terms of equality, he argued that all men are born equal and thus should have the same treatment in society. Thus, a centralized would give people a guideline to do things and ensure equality.

Paine’s theories face much criticism from religion because most are against religious teachings. While the bible advocated for kings, Paine was against the kingship system, which created conflict between his sentiments and religion. In his excerpt, he stated that worth is a man who is honest to society and God (Marker). However, he stated that monarch is ranked in the bible as one of the Jews’ sins. When the Israelites were taken out of bondage by Moses, they settled in a good land and demanded a king, even though they were warned that he would bring oppression to the society. However, they did not listen and appointed one against God’s will. God wanted humans to be ruled by law, not Kings.

Paine’s texts significantly impacted the Americans because they enlightened them about freedom. Paine advised Americans on how to gain freedom by forming a self-based rule, regarding America as a land of the free, advising them against a king, and showing the importance of a centralized government. However, religion, especially Christianity, complicated his teaching because they were against him. For instance, the bible advocated for kings, while Paine advocated for a monarchy.

Works Cited

Benesch, Klaus. “Is truth to post-truth what modernism is to postmodernism? Heidegger, the humanities, and the demise of common sense.” European Journal of American Studies, vol. 4, no. 15-41, 2020.

Biggar, Nigel. What’s wrong with rights? Oxford University Press, 2020, pp. 1–340.

Frick, Marie-Luisa. “Revolution and human rights thought in the political philosophy of Catharine Macaulay, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Anna Laetitia Barbauld.” Journal of European Studies, vol. 50, no. 3, 2020, pp. 247–66.

Marker, Jonathan. “Thomas Paine’s attitudes toward religion impacted his legacy, Author Says.” National Archives, 2019.

Thiele, Leslie Paul. “Human rights at the ‘end of nature.’” Journal of Human Rights, vol. 18, no. 1, 2019, pp. 19–35.