Common Sense HTML version

that in proportion as they surmount the first difficulties of emigration, which bound them
together in a common cause, they will begin to relax in their duty and attachment to each
other; and this remissness will point out the necessity of establishing some form of
government to supply the defect of moral virtue.
Some convenient tree will afford them a State-House, under the branches of which, the
whole colony may assemble to deliberate on public matters. It is more than probable that
their first laws will have the title only of REGULATIONS, and be enforced by no other
penalty than public disesteem. In this first parliament every man, by natural right, will
have a seat.
But as the colony increases, the public concerns will increase likewise, and the distance at
which the members may be separated, will render it too inconvenient for all of them to
meet on every occasion as at first, when their number was small, their habitations near,
and the public concerns few and trifling. This will point out the convenience of their
consenting to leave the legislative part to be managed by a select number chosen from the
whole body, who are supposed to have the same concerns at stake which those who
appointed them, and who will act in the same manner as the whole body would act, were
they present. If the colony continues increasing, it will become necessary to augment the
number of the representatives, and that the interest of every part of the colony may be
attended to, it will be found best to divide the whole into convenient parts, each part
sending its proper number; and that the ELECTED might never form to themselves an
interest separate from the ELECTORS, prudence will point out the propriety of having
elections often; because as the ELECTED might by that means return and mix again with
the general body of the ELECTORS in a few months, their fidelity to the public will be
secured by the prudent reflection of not making a rod for themselves. And as this frequent
interchange will establish a common interest with every part of the community, they will
mutually and naturally support each other, and on this (not on the unmeaning name of
Here then is the origin and rise of government; namely, a mode rendered necessary by the
inability of moral virtue to govern the world; here too is the design and end of
government, viz. freedom and security. And however our eyes may be dazzled with
show, or our ears deceived by sound; however prejudice may warp our wills, or interest
darken our understanding, the simple voice of nature and of reason will say, it is right.
I draw my idea of the form of government from a principle in nature, which no art can
overturn, viz. that the more simple any thing is, the less liable it is to be disordered; and
the easier repaired when disordered; and with this maxim in view, I offer a few remarks
on the so much boasted constitution of England. That it was noble for the dark and
slavish times in which it was erected, is granted. When the world was overrun with
tyranny the least remove therefrom was a glorious rescue. But that it is imperfect, subject
to convulsions, and incapable of producing what it seems to promise, is easily