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or six more to explain it, will in a few years be looked upon
as folly and childishness: there was a time when it was pro-
per, and there is a proper time for it to cease.

Small islands, not capable of protecting themselves, are
the proper objects for kingdoms to take under their care ;
but there is something very absurd in supposing a Continent
to be perpetually governed by an Island. In no instance
hath nature made the satellite larger than its primary planet;
and as England and America, with respect to each other,
reverse the common order of nature, it is evident they be-
long to different systems; England to Europe; America to
itself.

I am not induced by motives of pride, party, or resent*
ment, to espouse the doctrine of separation and indepen*
dence.. I; am clearly, positively, and conscientiously per-
suaded, that it is the true interest of the Continent to be so ;
that every thing short of that is merely patch- work, that it
can. afford no lasting felicity, that it is leaving the sword- to
our children, and slinking back at a time, when a little more,
a little farther, would have rendered the Continent the glory
of the earth.

A)s Britain hath not manifested the least inclination to*
wards- a, compromise, we may be assured that no terms can
be> obtained worthy the acceptance of the Continent, or any
ways equal to the expence of blood and treasure we have
been already put to*

The object contended for ought always to bear some Just
proportion to the expence. The removal of North, or the
whole detestable junto, is a matter unworthy the millions
we have expended. A temporary stoppage of trade w>as an
inconvenience which would have sufficiently balanced the
repeal of all the acts complained of, had such repeals- been
obtained : but if the whole Continent: must take up arms, if
every man* must be a soldier, it is scarcely worth our while



COMMON SENSE. 27

to fight against a contemptible Ministry only. Dearly, dearly
do we pay for the repeal of the acts, if that is all we fight
for ; for in a just estimation, it is as great a folly to pay a
Bunker's-hill price for law as for land. As 1 have always
considered the Independence of the Continent as an event
which sooner or later must arise, so from the late rapid pro-
gress of the Continent to maturity, the event could riot be
far off. Wherefore, on the breaking out of hostilities, it was
not worth while to have disputed a matter which, time would
have finally redressed, unless we meant to be in earnest;
otherwise it is like wasting an estate on. a suit at law, to re-
gulate the trespasses of a tenant, whose lease is just expir-
ing. No man was a warmer wisher for reconciliation than
myself, before the fatal nineteenth* of April, 1775, but the
moment the event of that day was made known, I rejected
the hardened, sullen-tempered Pharaoh of England for ever,
and disdained the wretch, that with the pretended title
of Father of his People, can unfeelingly hear of their
slaughter, and composedly sleep with their blood upon his
soul.

But admitting that matters were now made up, what
would be the event? I answer the ruin of the Continent,
And that for several reasons.

4 First. The powers of governing still remaining in the
hands of the King, he will have a negative over the whole
legislation of this Continent. And as he hath shewn him-
self such an inveterate enemy to liberty, and discovered
such a thirst for arbitrary power, is he, or is he not, a
proper man to say to these Colonies, " You shall make no
Laws but what I please!" And is there any inhabitant in
America so ignorant as not to know, that according to what
is called the present Constitution, this Continent can make
no Laws but what the King gives leave to : and is there any
man so unwise, as not to see (considering what has happened*)
he will suffer' no law to be made here, but such as suits his
purpose ? We may be as effectually enslaved by the want
of laws in America, as by submitting to laws made in Eng-
land. After matters are made up (as it is called,) can there
be any doubt, but the whole power of the Crown will be
exerted to keep this Continent as low and as humble as pos-
sible? Instead of going forward, we shall go backward, or
be perpetually quarrelling, or ridiculously petitioning. We



* Lexington.



28 COMMON SENSE.

are already greater than the King wishes us to be, and will
he not endeavour to make us less ? To bring the matter to
one point ; is the power who is jealous of our prosperity, a
proper power to govern us? Whoever says no to this ques-
tion is an independent; for independency means no more
than whether we shall make our own laws, or whether the
King (the greatest enemy this Continent hath or can have)
shall tell us, " There shall be no Laws but such as I like."

But the King, you will say, has a negative in England ;
the People there can make no laws without his consent. In
point of right and good order, there is something very ridi-
culous, that a youth of twenty-one (which hath often hap-
pened) shall say to several millions of people, older and
wiser than himself, I forbid this or that act of yours to be
law. But in this place I decline this sort of reply, though I
will never cease to expose the absurdity of it, and only an-
swer, that England being the King's residence, and America
not so, makes quite another case. The King's negative
here is ten times more dangerous and fatal than it can be in
England ; for there he will scarcely refuse his consent to a
bill for putting England into as strong a state of defence as
possible, and in America he would never suffer such a bill
to be passed.

America is only a secondary object in the system of Bri-
tish politics. England consults the good of this country no
farther than it answers her own purpose. Wherefore her
own interest leads her to suppress the growth of ours in every
case which doth not promote her advantage, or in the least
interfere with it A pretty state we should soon be in under
such a second-hand Government, considering what has hap-
pened ! Men do not change from enemies to friends, by the
alteration of a name : and in order to shew ihat reconcilia-
tion now is a dangerous doctrine, I affirm, that it would be
policy in the King at this time to repeal the Acts, for the sake
of reinstating himself in the Government of the Provinces ;
in order that he may accomplish by craft and subtlety, in
the long-run, what he cannot do by force and violence in
the short one. Reconciliation and ruin are nearly related.

Secondly. That as even the best terms which we can
expect to obtain, can amount to no more than a temporary
expedient, or a kind of Government by guardianship, which
can last no longer than till the colonies come of age, so the
general face and state of things, in the interim, will be un-
settled and unpromising. Emigrants of property will not
choose to come to a country whose form of Government



COMMON SENSE. 39

hangs but by a thread, and who is every day tottering on
the brink of commotion and disturbance, and numbers of
the present inhabitants would lay hold of the interval to dis-
pose of their effects, and quit the Continent.

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 invio-
late from Civil Wars. I dread the event of a reconciliation
with Britain now, as it is more than probable that it will be
followed by a revolt somewhere or other; the conse-
quences of which may be far more fatal than all the malice
of Britain.

Thousands are already ruined by British barbarity ! thou-
sands more will probably suffer the same fate ! Those men
have other feelings than us who have nothing suffered. AH
they now possess is Liberty ; what they before enjoyed is
sacrificed to its service ; and having nothing more to lose,
they disdain submission. Besides, the general temper of the
Colonies towards a British Government, will be like that of
a youth who is nearly out of his time; they will care very
little about her. And a Government which cannot preserve
the peace, is no Government at all, and in that case we pay
our money for nothing ; and pray what is it Britain can do,
whose power will be wholly on paper, should a civil tumult
break out the very day after reconciliation ? I have heard
some men say, many of whom, I believe, spoke without
thinking, that they dreaded an Independence, fearing it
would produce Civil Wars. It is but seldom that our first
thoughts are truly correct, and that is the case here ; for
there are ten times more to dread from a patched-up con-
nection, than from Independence. I make the sufferer's
case my own, and I protest, that were I driven from house
and home, my property destroyed, and my circumstances
ruined, that, as a man, sensible of injuries, I could never
relish the doctrine of reconciliation, or consider myself
bound thereby.

The Colonies have manifested such a spirit of good order
and obedience to Continental Government, as is sufficient to
make every reasonable person easy and happy on that head.
No man can assign the least pretence for his fears, on any
other ground than such as are truly childish and ridiculous,
viz. that one colony will be striving for superiority over
another.

Where there are no distinctions there can be no superio-
rity : perfect equality affords no temptation. The Repub-



30 COMMON SENSE.

lies of Europe are all, and we may say always, at Peace.
Holland and Switzerland are without wars, foreign and do-
mestic : Monarchical Governments, it is true, are never long
at rest ; the Crown itself is a temptation to enterprising
ruffians at home ; and that degree of pride and insolence,
ever attendant on Regal Authority, swells into a rupture
with foreign powers, in instances where a Republican Go-
vernment, by being formed on more natural principles, would
negociate the mistake.

If there is any true cause of fear respecting Independence,
it is because no plan is yet laid down : men do not see
their way out. Wherefore, as an opening to that business,
I offer the following hints ; at the same time modestly af-
firming, that I have no other opinion of them myself, than
that they may be the means of giving rise to something bet-
ter. Could the straggling thoughts of individuals be col-
lected, they would frequently form materials for wise and
able men to improve into useful matter.

Let the Assemblies be annual, with a President only.
The Representation more equal ; their business wholly do-
mestic, and subject to the authority of a Continental Con-
gress.

Let each Colony be divided into six, eight, or ten conve-
nient districts, each district to send a prop -r number of
Delegates to Congress, so that each Colony send at least
thirty. The whole number at Congress will be at least 390.
Each Congress to sit **^ and to choose a President by the
following method : When the Delegates are met, let a Co-
lony be taken from the whole thirteen Colonies by lot ; after
which let the whole Congress choose, by ballot, a President
from out of the Delegates of that Province. In the next
Congress, let a Colony be taken by lot from twelve only,
omitting that Colony from which the President was taken
in the former Congress, so proceeding on till the whole thir-
teen shall have had their proper rotation. And in order that
nothing may pass into a law, but what is satisfactorily just,
not less than three-fifths of the Congress to be called a majo-
rity. He that will promote discord under a Government so
equally formed as this, would have joined Lucifer in his
revolt.

But as there is a peculiar delicacy, from whom, and in
what manner this business must first arise ; and as it seems
most agreeable and consistent that it should come from some
intermediate body between the governed and the governors,
that is, between the Congress and the People, let a CONTI-



COMMON SENSE. 31

NENTAL CONFERENCE be held, in the following manner, and
for the following purpose :

A Committee of twenty-six members of Congress, viz.
two for each County. Two Members from each House of
Assembly or Provincial Convention ; and five Representa-
tives of the People at large, to be chosen in the capital city
or town of each Province, for and in behalf of the whole
Province, by as many qualified voters as shall think proper
to attend from all parts of the Province for that purpose ;
or, if more convenient, the Representatives may be chosen
in two or three of the most populous parts thereof. In this
Conference, thus assembled, will be united the two grand
principles of business, knowledge and power. The Members
of Congress, Assemblies or Conventions, by having had ex-
perience in National concerns, will be able and useful coun-
sellors ; and the whole, empowered by the People, will have
a truly legal authority.

The conferring Members being met, let their business be
to frame a CONTINENTAL CHARTER, or Charter of the
United Colonies, answering to what is called the Magna
Charta of England ; fixing the number and manner of choos-
ing Members of Congress, Members of Assembly, with their
date of sitting, and drawing the line of business and juris-
diction between them ; always remembering, that our
strength is continental, not provincial ; securing freedom
and property to all men ; and, above all things, the free
exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience :
with such other matter as is necessary for a Charter to con-
tain. Immediately after which, the said Conference to dis-
solve, and the bodies which shall be chosen conformable to
the said Charter to be the Legislators and Governors of this
Continent for the time being : whose peace and happiness
may God preserve! Amen.

Should any body of men be hereafter delegated for this or
some similar purpose, I offer them the following extract
from that wise observer on Governments, Dragonetti: " The
u science," says he, " of the politician consists in fixing the
" true point of happiness and freedom. Those men would
" deserve the gratitude of age?, who should discover a Mode
" of Government that contained the greatest sum of individual
" happiness, with the least national expence." Dragonetti
on Virtue and Rewards.

But where, some say, is the King of America? I will
tell you, friend, he reigns above, and does not make havoc
of mankind, like the Royal Brute of Britain. Yet that we



32 COMMON SENSE.

may not appear to be defective even in earthly honours, let
a day be solemnly set apart for proclaiming the Charter ;
let it be brought forth, placed on the Divine Law, the
Word of God : let a crown be placed thereon, by which the
world may know that so far we approve of Monarchy, that
in America, THE LAW is KING. For as in absolute Go-
vernments the King is Law, so in free countries the Law
ought to be King ; and there ought to be no other. But lest
any ill use should afterwards arise, let the Crown, at the con-
clusion of the ceremony, be demolished, and scattered among
the People, whose right it is.

A Government of our own is our natural right; and when
a man seriously reflects on the precariousness of human af-
fairs, he will become convinced, that it is infinitely wiser and
safer to form a constitution of our own in a cool deliberate
manner, while we have it in our power, than to trust such an
interesting event to time and chance. If we omit it now,
some Massaniello* may hereafter arise ; who laying hold
of popular disquietudes, may collect together the desperate
and discontented, and by assuming to themselves the powers
of Government, may sweep away the liberties of the Conti-
nent like a deluge. Should the Government of America
return again to the hands of Britain, the tottering situation
of things will be a temptation for some desperate Adventu-
rer to try his fortune ; and in such a case, what relief can
Britain give ? Ere she could hear the news, the fatal busi-
ness might be done ; and ourselves suffering, like the
wretched Britons', under the oppression of the Conqueror.
Ye that oppose Independence now, ye know not what ye
do ; ye are opening a door to eternal tyranny.

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 ; the cruelty hath a double guilt, it is
dealing brutally by us, and treacherously by them.

To talk of friendship with those in whom our reason for-
bids us to have faith, and our affections, wounded through
a thousand pores, instruct us to detest, is madness and folly.
Every day wears out the little remains of kindred between

* Thomas Aniello, otherwise Massaniello, a fisherman of Naples,
who, after spiriting up his countrymen iu the public market-place,
against the oppression of the Spaniards, to whom the place was
then subject, prompted them to revolt, and in the space of a day
became King.



COMMON SENSE. 33

Us and them, and can there be any reewson to hope, that as
the relationship expires, the affection will increase; or that
we shall agree better, when we have ten times more and
greater concerns to quarrel over than ever?

Ye that tell us of harmony and reconciliation, can ye re-
store to us the time that is past? Can you give to prostitu-
tion its former innocence? Neither can you reconcile Britain
and America. The last cord now is broken, the People of
England are presenting Addresses against us. There are
injuries which nature cannot forgive; she would cease to be
nature if she did. As well can the lover forgive the ravisher
of his mistress, as the Continent forgive the murderers of
Britain. The Almighty hath implanted in us these unextin-
guishable feelings for good and wise purposes. They are
the guardians of his image in our hearts. They distinguish
us from the herd of common animals. The social compact
would dissolve, and justice be extirpated the earth, or have
only a casual existence, were we callous to the touches of
affection. The robber and the murderer would often escape
unpunished* did not the injuries which our temper sustains,
provoke us into justice.

O ye that love mankind; ye that dare oppose, not only
the tyranny, but the tyrant, stand forth ; every spot of the
old world is overrun with oppression. Freedom hath been
hunted round the globe. Asia and Africa have long ex-
pelled her, Europe regards her like a stranger, and England
hath given her warning to depart. O receive the fugitive !
and prepare in time an asylum for mankind.



34 COMMON SENSE.






On the present Ability of America, with some Miscellane-
ous Reflections.

I HAVE never met with a man, either in England or Ame-
rica, who hath not confessed his opinion, that a separation
between the two countries would take place one time or
other : and there is no instance in which we have shewn
less judgment, than in endeavouring to describe, what we
call the ripeness or fitness of the Continent for Independence.

As all men allow the measure, and vary only in their opi-
nion of the time, let us, in order to remove mistakes, take a
general survey of things, and endeavour, if possible, to find
out the very time. But we need not go far, the inquiry
ceases at once, for the lime hath found us. The general
concurrence, the glorious union of all things prove the fact.

It is not in numbers, but in unity, that our great strength
jies ; yet our present numbers are sufficient to repel the force
of all the world. The Continent hath, at this time, the
largest body of armed and disciplined men of any power
under Heaven, and is just arrived at that pitch of strength
in which no single colony is able to support itself, and the
whole, when united, can accomplish the matter ; and either
more or less, than this might be fatal in Rs effects. Our
land force is already sufficient, and as to naval affairs, we
cannot be insensible that Britain would never suffer an Ame-
rican man of war to be built, while the Continent remained
in her hands, wherefore we should be no forwarder an hun-
dred years hence in that branch, than we are now ; but the
truth is, we shall be less so, because the timber of the coun-
try is every day diminishing, and that which will remain at
last, will be far off and difficult to procure.

Were the Continent crowded with inhabitants, her suffer-
ings under the present circumstances would be intolerable.
The more sea-port towns we had, the more should we have
both to defend and to lose. Our present numbers are so
happily proportioned to our wants, that no man need to
be idle. The diminution of trade affords an army, and the
necessities of an army create a new trade.



COMMON SENSE* 35

l)ebts we have none, and whatever we may contract on
this account, will serve as a glorious memento of our virtue.
Can we but leave posterity with a settled form of Govern-
ment, an independent Constitution of its own, the purchase
at any price will be cheap. But to expend millions for the
sake of getting a few vile acts repealed, and routing the pre-
sent ministry only, is unworthy the charge, is using pos-
terity with the utmost cruelty ; because it is leaving them
the great work to do, and a debt upon their backs, from
which they derive no advantage. Such a thought is unwor-
thy a man of honour, and is the true characteristic of a nar-
row heart, and a pedling politician.

The debt we may contract doth not deserve our regard,
if the work be but accomplished. No nation ought to be
without a debt; a National Debt is a National Bond, and
when it bears no interest, is in no case a grievance. Britain
is oppressed with a debt of upwards of one hundred and fifty
millions sterling, for which she pays upwards of four mil*
lions interest. As a compensation for the debt, she has a
large navy ; America is without a debt, and without a navy ;
yet for the twentieth part of the English National Debt,
could have a navy as large again. The Navy of England is
not worth more at this time, than three millions and a half
sterling.

The first and second editions of this pamphlet were pub-
lished without the following calculations, which are now
given as proof that the above estimation of the navy is a
just one. See Entic's Naval History, Introduction, p. 66.
The charge of building a ship of each rate, and furnishing
her with masts, yards, sails, and rigging, together with a pro-
portion of eight month's boatswain's and carpenter's sea
stores, as calculated by Mr. Burchett, Secretary to the Navy,
is as follows :

For a ship of 100 guns - - .36,553
" 90 - - - - 29,886
80 ... - 23,638
7Q - - - - 17,785
60 - - - - 14,197
50 - - - - 10,606
40 - - - 7,855
30 - - . - 5,846
20 - - - - 3,710

And from hence it is easy to sum up the value, or cost
rather, of the whole British navy, which in the year 1757,



36 COMMON SENSE.

when it was at its greatest glory, consisted of the following
ships and guns:



6 100 35,553 213,318

12 90 29.886 358,632

12 80 23,638 283,656

43 70 17,785 764,755

35 60 14,197 496,895

40 50 10,606 424,240

45 40 7,758 340,110

58 20 3,710 251,180
85 sloops, bombs, and ^

fire-ships, one with V 2,000 170,000
another S



Cost 3,266,786
Remains for guns 233,214



o3,5QO,000



No country on the globe is so happily situated, or so in-
ternally capable of raising a fleet, as America. Tar, timber,
iron, and cordage, are her natural produce. We need go
abroad for nothing. Whereas the Dutch, who make large
profits by hiring out their ships of war to the Spaniards and
Portuguese, are obliged to import most of the materials
they use. We ought to view the building a fleet as an
article of commerce, it being the natural manufactory of
this country. It is the best money we can lay out. A
navy, when finished, is worth more than it cost ; and is
that nice point in national policy, in which commerce and
protection are united. Let us build ; if we want them not
we can sell ; and by that means replace our paper currency
with ready gold and silver.

In point of manning a fleet, people in general run into
great errors ; it is not necessary that one fourth part should
be sailors. The Terrible privateer, Captain Death, stood
the hottest engagement of any ship last war, yet had not
twenty sailors on board, though her complement of men
was upwards of two hundred. A few able and social
sailors will soon instruct a sufficient number of active land-
men in the common work of a ship. Wherefore we never
can be more capable to begin on maritime matters than



COMMON SENSE. 37

BOW, while our timber is standing, our fisheries blocked up,



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