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Thomas Paine
Common Sense IV
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IV. OF THE PRESENT ABILITY OF AMERICA, WITH
SOME MISCELLANEOUS REFLEXIONS.

I have never met with a man, either in England or America,
who hath not confessed his opinion, that a separation between
the 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....


... TO CONCLUDE, however strange it may appear to some,
or however unwilling they may be to think so, matters not, but
many strong and striking reasons may be given, to shew, that
nothing can settle our affairs so expeditiously as an open and
determined declaration for independence. Some of which are,
First.?It is the custom of nations, when any two are at war,
for some other powers, not engaged in the quarrel, to step in
as mediators, and bring about the preliminaries of a peace:
but while America calls herself the subject of Great Britain, no
power, however well disposed she may be, can offer her
mediation. Wherefore, in our present state we may quarrel on
for ever.
Secondly.?It is unreasonable to suppose, that France or
Spain will give us any kind of assistance, if we mean only to
make use of that assistance for the purpose of repairing the
breach, and strengthening the connection between Britain and
America; because, those powers would be sufferers by the
consequences.
Thirdly.?While we profess ourselves the subjects of Britain,
we must, in the eye of foreign nations, be considered as rebels.
The precedent is somewhat dangerous to their peace, for men
to be in arms under the name of subjects; we, on the spot, can
solve the paradox: but to unite resistance and subjection,
requires an idea much too refined for the common understanding.
Fourthly.?Were a manifesto to be published, and despatched
to foreign courts, setting forth the miseries we have endured,
and the peaceable methods we have ineffectually used for
redress; declaring, at the same time, that not being able, any
longer to live happily or safely under the cruel disposition of the
British court, we had been driven to the necessity of breaking off
all connections with her; at the same time assuring all such courts
of our peacable disposition towards them, and of our desire of
entering into trade with them: Such a memorial would produce
more good effects to this Continent, than if a ship were freighted
with petitions to Britain.
Under our present denomination of British subjects we can
neither be received nor heard abroad: The custom of all courts is
against us, and will be so, until, by an independence, we take
rank with other nations.
These proceedings may at first appear strange and difficult;
but, like all other steps which we have already passed over,
will in a little time become familiar and agreeable; and, 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 haunted with the thoughts of its necessity.

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