Common Sense Themes

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The Evils of Hereditary Monarchies

Paine spends much of his writing arguing against the objectionable nature of hereditary monarchs in general, and one hereditary monarch in particular: King George III of England. Although the colonies directed most of their anger toward the British Parliament for enacting extremely binding commercial restrictions on them, Paine sought to add King George to the list of British offenders. He builds a detailed argument throughout Common Sense for why monarchies are not good governments to begin with, but hereditary monarchies are extremely corrupt. He even argues that hereditary monarchs are both unnatural and un-Christian.

Monarchs cannot sustain a just society, claims Paine, because one person cannot fairly make decisions for an entire community. A monarch is not accountable to anyone and thus generally serves his own interests rather than those of his people. Paine says that monarchs are even opposed by God in the...

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