“Until an 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, hates to set about it, wishes it over, and is continually haunted with the thoughts of its necessity.” – Thomas Paine, Common Sense
COMMON SENSE – 2017 (PART TWO) – The Burning Platform
In Part One of this article I explored Thomas Paine’s critical role in the creation of our nation. His Common Sense pamphlets inspired the common people to uncommon acts of courage and heroic feats of valor; leading to the great experiment we call the United States of America. Paine, Franklin and the other Founding Fathers produced a republic, if we could keep it.
John Adams championed the new Constitution precisely because it would not create a democracy, as he knew a democracy “soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself.” Their herculean efforts, sacrifices, and bloodshed have been for naught as we allowed our republic to devolve into a democracy and ultimately into our current corporate fascist warfare/welfare surveillance state. Sadly, we were unable to keep the republic Franklin and his fellow revolutionaries gave us.
Some might contend Paine’s Common Sense arguments against a despotic monarchy two and a half centuries ago, with an audience of two and a half million colonists, couldn’t be pertinent today in a divided nation of 325 million people. But when you examine the events, actions and catalysts inspiring Paine to pen Common Sense, you see the parallels with the events, decisions and facilitators of our current Crisis.
For more than a decade before the eruption of open hostilities, tensions had been building between colonists and the British authorities. An overbearing far flung British Empire began to pillage the colonies to pay for their corrupt kingdom by shaking them down through the Stamp Act of 1765, the Quartering Act of 1765, the Townshend Tariffs of 1767 and the Tea Act of 1773.
This taxation without representation was met with passionate protest among many colonists, who resented their lack of representation in Parliament and demanded the same rights as other British subjects. These demands were met with arrogant indifference by the monarchy and a haughty parliament. Forcing colonists to feed and house the very soldiers who were being paid with their taxes to repress them was the ultimate insult.
Initially, the colonists just fumed at the domineering disrespect shown them by the British ruling establishment. The pillaging of their hard earned wealth by distant oppressors prompted the colonists to initially organize nonviolent resistance and embargoing British luxury goods. As anger against their authoritarian overseers boiled over, the British cracked down harder in their version of a colonial surveillance state. Colonial resistance eventually led to bloodshed in 1770, when British soldiers opened fire on a mob of colonists, killing five men in what became known as the Boston Massacre.
Parliament eventually backed down and repealed all of the duties except for one symbolic duty on tea. In December 1773 the Samuel Adams inspired Sons of Liberty, dressed as Mohawk Indians, boarded British ships and dumped 342 chests of tea into Boston Harbor. An outraged Parliament passed a series of measures known as the Intolerable or Coercive Acts, designed to reassert imperial authority in Massachusetts. In response, a group of colonial delegates (including George Washington of Virginia, John and Samuel Adams of Massachusetts, Patrick Henry of Virginia and John Jay of New York) met in Philadelphia in September 1774 to give voice to their grievances against the British crown.