University of West Georgia Unit 3 The Debate Over Independence Presentation Unit 3 Discussion:
The Debate Over Independence
One of the key roles of a historian is to understand the differing perspectives of the past. Just like people today have differing political opinions, so too did people in the past. While we may not always agree with a particularly perspective, it is still important to understand all points of view.
This discussion will focus on the debate over independence in 1776. You will read two very different perspectives on whether or not Americans should declare their independence from Great Britain. While Thomas Paine supported American independence from Britain and explained these reasons in his famous document Common Sense, Charles Inglis insisted that Americans should remain loyal to Britain in the hopes of preventing further bloodshed. The goal of this assignment is to read both perspectives and understand the main arguments offered by each in favor of or against independence.
Thomas Paine – Common Sense
Charles Inglis Against Independence
There are two parts to this assignment: an initial posting and a response. You are required to read both of the above documents, take notes, and then present your findings to the class. Here is how it will work:
1. INITIAL POSTING: Your initial posting will attempt to convince the American colonies that independence is necessary. You will read the document by Thomas Paine, then use his arguments to present a compelling case for independence. Your posting should convey all of the main themes conveyed by Paine, as well as include examples from the reading to illustrate your main points. You can be as creative as youd like with your initial posting. Here are a few ideas:
-create a PowerPoint, Prezi, or other type of presentation software (after all, didnt they have computers in 1776?)
-create a video where you give a speech to the Continental Congress (I’m sure they all had iPhones as well)
-create a pamphlet (just like Common Sense) or newspaper article where you discuss your main points (Word and Publisher work well for this format)
These are just a few ideas of how you can be creative in presenting your information. If you have other creative ideas not listed, please check with me to get approval. If you arent feeling creative, write a post in the traditional format that discusses the various themes of Paines reading.
2. RESPONSE: Your response is based on document by Charles Inglis. You will read the document, then note at least three reasons why Americans SHOULD NOT declare independence. You will then respond to one of the Thomas Paine postings and explain why Americans should remain loyal to Great Britain, offering at least three reasons that you found in the reading by Charles Inglis. Your response should be a minimum of one substantive paragraph (a substantive paragraph is far more than 1-2 sentences). Feel free to write in character as if you were living in 1776.
The goal for this assignment is to comprehensively discuss the main points made by Paine and Inglis in their writings. You are graded on how effectively and comprehensively you cover the themes in both readings. Make sure that you include key points from each reading, and use examples to illustrate your points. Since you are only using these readings (and no outside sources), you only need to cite your work if you use a direct quote. Common Sense
by Thomas Paine
Thoughts on the Present State of American Affairs
IN the following pages I offer nothing more than simple facts, plain arguments, and common sense . . .
I have heard it asserted by some, that as America has flourished under her former connection with Great
Britain, the same connection is necessary towards her future happiness, and will always have the same
effect. Nothing can be more fallacious than this kind of argument. We may as well assert that because a
child has thrived upon milk, that it is never to have meat, or that the first twenty years of our lives is to
become a precedent for the next twenty. But even this is admitting more than is true; for I answer roundly
that America would have flourished as much, and probably much more, had no European power taken
any notice of her. The commerce by which she hath enriched herself are the necessaries of life, and will
always have a market while eating is the custom of Europe.
But she has protected us, say some. That she hath engrossed us is true, and defended the Continent at
our expense as well as her own, is admitted; and she would have defended Turkey from the same
motive, viz. for the sake of trade and dominion.
Alas! we have been long led away by ancient prejudices and made large sacrifices to superstition. We
have boasted the protection of Great Britain, without considering, that her motive was INTEREST not
ATTACHMENT; and that she did not protect us from OUR ENEMIES on OUR ACCOUNT; but from HER
ENEMIES on HER OWN ACCOUNT, from those who had no quarrel with us on any OTHER ACCOUNT,
and who will always be our enemies on the SAME ACCOUNT. Let Britain waive her pretensions to the
Continent, or the Continent throw off the dependence, and we should be at peace with France and Spain,
were they at war with Britain . . .
It hath lately been asserted in parliament, that the Colonies have no relation to each other but through the
Parent Country, i.e. that Pennsylvania and the Jerseys and so on for the rest, are sister Colonies by the
way of England; this is certainly a very roundabout way of proving relationship, but it is the nearest and
only true way of proving enmity (or enemyship, if I may so call it.) France and Spain never were, nor
perhaps ever will be, our enemies as AMERICANS, but as our being the SUBJECTS OF GREAT
But Britain is the parent country, say some. Then the more shame upon her conduct. Even brutes do not
devour their young, nor savages make war upon their families . . . Europe, and not England, is the parent
country of America. This new World hath been the asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and religious
liberty from EVERY PART of Europe. Hither have they fled, not from the tender embraces of the mother,
but from the cruelty of the monster; and it is so far true of England, that the same tyranny which drove the
first emigrants from home, pursues their descendants still.
In this extensive quarter of the globe, we forget the narrow limits of three hundred and sixty miles (the
extent of England) and carry our friendship on a larger scale; we claim brotherhood with every European
Christian, and triumph in the generosity of the sentiment.
Much hath been said of the united strength of Britain and the Colonies, that in conjunction they might bid
defiance to the world. But this is mere presumption; the fate of war is uncertain, neither do the
expressions mean anything; for this continent would never suffer itself to be drained of inhabitants, to
support the British arms in either Asia, Africa, or Europe.
Besides, what have we to do with setting the world at defiance? Our plan is commerce, and that, well
attended to, will secure us the peace and friendship of all Europe; because it is the interest of all Europe
to have America a free port. Her trade will always be a protection, and her barrenness of gold and silver
secure her from invaders.
I challenge the warmest advocate for reconciliation to show a single advantage that this continent can
reap by being connected with Great Britain. I repeat the challenge; not a single advantage is derived. Our
corn [grain] will fetch its price in any market in Europe, and our imported goods must be paid for buy them
where we will.
But the injuries and disadvantages which we sustain by that connection, are without number; and our duty
to mankind at large, as well as to ourselves, instruct us to renounce the alliance: because, any
submission to, or dependence on, Great Britain, tends directly to involve this Continent in European wars
and quarrels, and set us at variance with nations who would otherwise seek our friendship, and against
whom we have neither anger nor complaint. As Europe is our market for trade, we ought to form no
partial connection with any part of it. It is the true interest of America to steer clear of European
contentions, which she never can do, while, by her dependence on Britain, she is made the makeweight
in the scale of British politics.
Europe is too thickly planted with Kingdoms to be long at peace, and whenever a war breaks out between
England and any foreign power, the trade of America goes to ruin, BECAUSE OF HER CONNECTION
WITH BRITAIN . . . The blood of the slain, the weeping voice of nature cries, ‘TIS TIME TO PART. Even
the distance at which the Almighty hath placed England and America is a strong and natural proof that the
authority of the one over the other, was never the design of Heaven. The time likewise at which the
Continent was discovered, adds weight to the argument, and the manner in which it was peopled,
encreases the force of it. The Reformation was preceded by the discovery of America: As if the Almighty
graciously meant to open a sanctuary to the persecuted in future years, when home should afford neither
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, reverses the common order of nature, it is evident they belong to
different systems: England to Europe, America to itself.
America is only a secondary object in the system of British 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 interferes with it. A
pretty state we should soon be in under such a second-hand government, considering what has
happened! . . . Reconciliation and ruin are nearly related.
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 inviolate from civil wars. I dread the
event of a reconciliation with Britain now, as it is more than probable, that it will followed by a revolt
somewhere or other, the consequences of which may be far more fatal than all the malice of Britain.
Thousands are already ruined by British barbarity; (thousands more will probably suffer the same fate.)
Those men have other feelings than us who have nothing suffered. All 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 that
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 that 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
connexion than from independence. I make the sufferers 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 grounds, that such as are truly childish and ridiculous, viz. that one
colony will be striving for superiority over another.
Ye that tell us of harmony and reconciliation, can ye restore to us the time that is past? Can ye give to
prostitution its former innocence? Neither can ye 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 murders of Britain. The Almighty hath implanted in us these
unextinguishable 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 from 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 tempers
sustain, 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 expelled 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.
Charles Inglis The True Interest of America Impartially
Charles Inglis came to America in 1755 and, at the outbreak of the American
Revolution, was assigned to Trinity Church in New York City as an Anglican priest.
Throughout the war, he wrote several essays intended to convince the patriots that
they were on the wrong track.
In 1783, when he was about to sail for exile in England, Inglis declared: “I do not
leave behind me an individual, against whom I have the smallest degree of
resentment or ill-will.
I think it no difficult matter to point out many advantages which will certainly
attend our reconciliation and connection with Great-Britain, on a firm,
constitutional plan. I shall select a few of these; and that their importance may
be more clearly discerned, I shall afterwards point out some of the evils which
inevitably must attend our separating from Britain, and declaring for
independency. On each article I shall study brevity.
By a reconciliation with Britain, a period would be put to the present calamitous
war, by which so many lives have been lost, and so many more must be lost, if
it continues. This alone is an advantage devoutly to he wished for. This author
says- “The blood of the slain, the weeping voice of nature cries, Tis time to
part.” I think they cry just the reverse. The blood of the slain, the weeping voice
of nature cries-It is time to be reconciled; it is time to lay aside those
animosities which have pushed on Britons to shed the blood of Britons; it is high
time that those who are connected by the endearing ties of religion, kindred
and country, should resume their former friendship, and be united in the bond
of mutual affection, as their interests are inseparably united.
Agriculture, commerce, and industry would resume their wonted vigor. At
present, they languish and droop, both here and in Britain; and must continue
to do so, while this unhappy contest remains unsettled.
By a connection with Great-Britain, our trade would still have the protection of
the greatest naval power in the world. England has the advantage, in this
respect, of every other state, whether of ancient or modern times. Her insular
situation, her nurseries for seamen, the superiority of those seamen above
others-these circumstances to mention no other, combine to make her the first
maritime power in the universe—such exactly is the power whose protection we
want for our commerce . . . Past experience shews that Britain is able to defend
our commerce, and our coasts; and we have no reason to doubt of her being
able to do so for the future. The protection of our trade, while connected with
Britain, will not cost a fiftieth part of what it must cost, were we ourselves to
raise a naval force sufficient for this purpose.
Whilst connected with Great-Britain, we have a bounty on almost every article
of exportation; and we may be better supplied with goods by her, than we could
elsewhere . . . The manufactures of Great-Britain confessedly surpass any in the
world – particularly those in every kind of metal, which we want most; and no
country can afford linens and woollens, of equal quality cheaper.
When a Reconciliation is effected, and things return into the old channel, a few
years of peace will restore everything to its pristine state. Emigrants will flow in
as usual from the different parts of Europe. Population will advance with the
same rapid progress as formerly, and our lands will rise in value.
These advantages are not imaginary but real. They are such as we have already
experienced; and such as we may derive from a connection with Great Britain
for ages to come . . . Let us now, if you please, take a view of the other side of
the question. Suppose we were to revolt from Great-Britain, declare ourselves
Independent, and set up a Republic of our own-what would be the
consequence? – I stand aghast at the prospect – my blood runs chill when I
think of the calamities, the complicated evils that must ensue, and may be
clearly foreseen – it is impossible for any man to foresee them all. . .
All our property throughout the continent would be unhinged; the greatest
confusion, and most violent convulsions would take place . . . The common
bond that tied us together, and by which our property was secured, would be
snapt asunder. It is not to be doubted but our Congress would endeavor to
apply some remedy for those evils; but with all deference to that respectable
body, I do not apprehend that any remedy in their power would be adequate, at
least for some time . . .
A Declaration of Independency would infallibiy disunite and divide the colonists.
By a Declaration for Independency, every avenue to an accommodation with
Great-Britain would be closed; the sword only could then decide the quarrel;
and the sword would not be sheathed till one had conquered the other . . .
The independency of America would, in the end, deprive her of the West-Indies,
shake her empire to the foundation, and reduce her to a state of the most
mortifying insignificance. Great-Britain therefore must, for her own
preservation, risk every thing, and exert her whole strength, to prevent such an
event from taking place. This being the case —
Devastation and ruin must mark the progress of this war along the sea coast of
America . . . Ruthless war, with all its aggravated horrors, will ravage our once
happy land-our seacoasts and ports will be ruined, and our ships taken.
Torrents of blood will be split, and thousands reduced to beggary and
wretchedness . . .
. . . a republican form of government would neither suit the genius of the
people, nor the extent of America . . . Limited monarchy is the form of
government which is most favourable to liberty – which is best adapted to the
genius and temper of Britons . . .Besides the unsuitableness of the republican
form to the genius of the people, America is too extensive for it. That form may
do well enough for a single city, or small territory; but would be utterly
improper for such a continent as this. America is too unwieldy for the feeble,
dilatory administration of democracy . . .
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