Thomas Paines Ideas Influenced History Essay
Firstly, the reason Thomas Paines ideas changed the way America was governed was because he was a convincing and persuasive writer, hence colonists and politicians alike could understand and be persuaded by his writing. Thomas Paines most famous piece of work was the pamphlet Common Sense (1776). The pamphlet attacked the monarchy and ridiculed King George III. It was written in an emotional way which also was in common language for all to understand (Britannica, 2013).
"Thomas Paine invented a new language of politics in 1775 when he wrote Common Sense. His pamphlet was the first time that ï¿½we the peopleï¿½ were invited to participate in political discussion, in deciding what our fate would be. Before Common Sense, politics was decided by the upper classes and ï¿½we the peopleï¿½ were just told what to do. Paine used everyday language so that everyone could understand the issues. "(Moonstone Art Centre, 2013).
As the quote explains, prior to Thomas Paine, colonists could not participate in political conversations. Therefore, after reading Common Sense it ruined all hopes of compromise with Britain as Common Sense made people realise the disadvantages of monarchy which was a new way of thinking. In addition to this, the patriot revolt was originally on taxation and a few vile Acts but Paine urged independence through Common Sense (Parkinson, 1971)."The effect Paine's book even reached George Washington, who didnï¿½t support independence until persuaded to by Paine" (Steel, 2004). As this explains, Thomas Paine reached out to George Washington, a founding father and the 1st President of the United States and persuaded him to sign the Declaration of Independence. The pamphlet was the bold precursor to the Declaration of Independence drafted by another founding father, Thomas Jefferson(Parkinson, 1971). Hence, Thomas Paine was a convincing writer because he had the ability to compel the founding fathers and commoners which changed the way America was governed.
Another reason why Thomas Paine's ideas changed the way the Congress governed was because his ideas of liberty and equality invigorated the Patriot ethos which, consequently, shaped the government. Since most of the patriots were linked to the government they defined what it meant to be American and also how much control the government should have.
"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and women"(Paine, 1776).
This was a quote from Paine himself and is still known throughout America and its army to keep them strong and fight for a cause which they may have forgotten due to hardship. During the War of Independence Washington's army was on the verge of disintegration however Thomas Paine's Crisis Papers aided them (Early America, 2013). This shows that the patriots wanted to stay loyal to their country (see source 1). Furthermore, Paine's writing expressed what most colonists were thinking, which was that the British must go. Paine used this unsettlement to his advantage calling for independence in his writings. He further criticized the monarchy as all people wanted to be treated equally. This sparked a movement which was not thought of in the old world. This movement and its ideas were shaping the Patriot ethos and the government. It reached the government because the citizen's ethos spread to the Governor of State then to the U.S Congress (Technidgm, 1996). This sprit in the ethos from Paine's writings carried on into the Declaration of Independence. Thus, having the ethos, the patriots were effectively able to shape the government, deciding how much control the Government could place on them and with an ethos developed natural rights were realised.
Finally, Thomas Paine aided in making the colonists realise their natural rights hence, forming a republic government. Thomas Paine set the fundamentals of human nature making his logic difficult to attack (Technidgm, 1996). Since colonists were living in a time of slavery and military attacks it was important for Thomas Paine to express the rights of man. All these ideas for rights were in Common Sense which sold over 500,000 copies (Steel, 2004). His principles were based on human rights that many did not think they had. "Jefferson said in writing the Declaration of Independence he tried to write 'an expression of the American mind' in fact, the idea of all men (let alone women) being created equal was still way ahead of the American mind." (Ross, 2001). As this quote explains equality and rights was something unknown at the time. Thomas Paine inspired the Declaration of Independence which led to all Americans understanding their rights leading to the formation of a republic constitution. The colonists of America let the government know they had these rights and that they had an obligation to a free nation. The founding fathers created a constitution and the Bill of Rights which would ensure the government did not exploit the power given by the colonists preserving liberty, restricting government power and protecting natural rights of Americans (Constitution Facts, 2013).This meant the Congress listened to the patriots who wanted a free and uncorrupt nation. Therefore, rights were acknowledged by the patriots the government was obligated to take them into consideration whilst governing.
Thomas Paine's ideas of equality, liberalism and republicanism were portrayed in his writings and his ideas shaped the government because he was a convincing writer, he helped develop the patriot ethos which made the U.S constitution and he made all colonists realise their 'Natural Rights'. Therefore, Thomas Paine's ideas made a great impact on the way the United States was governed even today. As the 18th century poet Joel Barlow once said "Without the pen of Paine, the sword of Washington would have been wielded in vein.
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