This is a summary review of Common Sense containing key details about the book.
What is Common Sense About?
"Common Sense" is a political pamphlet written by Thomas Paine in 1776 during the American Revolution.
Common Sense cites the evils of monarchy, accuses the British government of inflicting economic and social injustices upon the colonies, and points to the absurdity of an island attempting to rule a continent. Credited by George Washington as having changed the minds of many of his countrymen, the document sold over 500,000 copies within a few months.
Summary Points & Takeaways from Common Sense
Some key summary points and takeaways from the book include:
* Paine argues for the idea of American independence from British rule, asserting that the colonies should separate from the British Empire and form a new nation.
* He argues that government should be based on the consent of the governed and that the power of government should be limited so as to protect the rights and liberties of individuals.
* Paine advocates for a democratic form of government, as opposed to a monarchy, and argues that the common people can govern themselves and make decisions for the good of society.
* He argues against the idea of a "divine right of kings" and asserts that all people are equal and that rulers derive their power from the people they govern.
* Paine also discusses the idea of natural rights, including the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, which he believes are inherent to all human beings and should not be violated by the government.
* The pamphlet was highly influential in its time, inspiring many colonists to support the revolutionary cause and helping to rally support for American independence.
Common Sense Summary Notes
1. The Importance of Society in Human Existence
Thomas Paine's "Common Sense" highlights the fundamental importance of human society. From the simplest tasks of changing a lightbulb to the most complex surgeries or product designs, humans need to work and live alongside others to reach their full potential. However, society is not only important for making daily tasks easier, but it is essential for human survival. When we get sick, we need other people to take care of us, and in the past, lacking social support could be fatal.
Yet, because humans have flaws and moral shortcomings, society requires a set of rules, or laws, that dictate how we should treat each other and live in harmony. This is because our inherent immoral impulses may cause us to disregard other people's well-being in favor of our own, which poses a significant threat to society. Thus, creating a prosperous society is a natural and necessary investment for human survival.
Paine's argument reminds us that human existence is not an individualistic endeavor but rather a collective one. Society provides us with the necessary support, guidance, and protection to thrive, and it is our responsibility to contribute to its well-being. In a world where individualism and self-interest are sometimes prioritized, it is crucial to remember the importance of human connection and the role of society in our lives.
2. The Benefits of Representative Government over Monarchy
Paine argues that a growing society needs a more effective way of decision-making than trying to come to an agreement with tens of thousands of people. The solution he suggests is the establishment of a representative government. Representatives are elected to speak and decide for different groups in society, and the frequency of elections ensures that governing authorities are always in tune with the needs of society.
Monarchy, on the other hand, is not an effective system of governance. It contradicts God's will and nature itself by elevating one individual above others. Additionally, monarchy transfers power on a hereditary basis, which means society might be forced to deal with an incompetent or lunatic ruler after one good one. Studies have shown that people who were born into power are easily corrupted by it.
Paine argues that the most egalitarian government system is the one that is based on elections. The representative government allows for every member of society to share their personal views and ensures that governing authorities are always in tune with the needs of society. Monarchy, on the other hand, is a system that elevates one individual above others and can result in negative consequences for society.
3. The Benefits of American Independence from British Monarchy.
Paine argues that the United States should claim its independence from the British monarchy. Paine believes that claiming ownership over another country and its citizens should not be allowed and that it is natural for countries to demand their freedom to develop. The English monarchy had mistreated the American people by imposing harsh taxes, punishing those who spoke against taxation, and killing protestors during the Boston Massacre. Additionally, British America was not represented in the British Parliament, giving Americans no power over their own laws and making the rule of the British monarchy tyrannical.
Moreover, by being in the service of another country, British America was losing economic power. The British had made laws that forbade trade from American ports to countries like Spain and France while the British Empire was at war with them. This had a lot of negative consequences on the well-being and prosperity of the American people. The British prevented American ports from functioning properly and from becoming thriving commercial centers, hindering their potential for economic growth.
Paine believes that America would be better off without the English monarchy and could easily trade with other countries as they were rich in resources that were coveted all over the world. By gaining independence, America would be able to control its own laws and economy, leading to greater prosperity and growth. Paine argues that America needs to be free to develop and that independence from the British monarchy is necessary for America to reach its full potential.
Who is the author of Common Sense?
Thomas Paine was an English-born American political activist, philosopher, political theorist, and revolutionary.
- Print length: 104 pages
- Genre: History, Nonfiction, Classics
What genre is Common Sense?
History, Nonfiction, Classics
What are the chapters in Common Sense?
Chapter 1. OF THE ORIGIN AND DESIGN OF GOVERNMENT IN GENERAL, WITH CONCISE REMARKS ON THE ENGLISH CONSTITUTION
Chapter 2. OF MONARCHY AND HEREDITARY SUCCESSION
Chapter 3. THOUGHTS ON THE PRESENT STATE OF AMERICAN AFFAIRS
Chapter 4. OF THE PRESENT ABILITY OF AMERICA, WITH SOME MISCELLANEOUS REFLECTIONS
What is a good quote from Common Sense?
Top Quote: “Time makes more converts than reason.” (Meaning) - Common Sense Quotes, Thomas Paine
What do critics say?
Here's what one of the prominent reviewers had to say about the book: “There are many fine editions of this indispensable American text. But this one is richer and more rewarding than the others. It invites readers to encounter Common Sense in the fullness of its historical setting. And as it does, it makes plain how utterly Tom Paine towered above all other Revolutionary writers.” — Michael W. Zuckerman, University of Pennsylvania
* The editor of this summary review made every effort to maintain information accuracy, including any published quotes, chapters, or takeaways. If you're interested in enhancing your personal growth, I suggest checking out my list of favorite self-development books. These books have been instrumental in my own personal development and I'm confident they can help you too.
Tal Gur is an author, founder, and impact-driven entrepreneur at heart. After trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, he spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His journey and most recent book, The Art of Fully Living, has led him to found Elevate Society.