Common Sense, British Edition

Of the Present Ability of America, with Some Miscellaneous Reflexions

Page 36

36                             COMMON SENSE.
riches play into each other’s hand, we need fear no external

In almost every article of defence we abound. Hemp
flourishes even to rankness, so that we need not want cordage.
Our iron is superior to that of other countries. Our small
arms equal to any in the world. Cannon we can cast at
pleasure. Saltpetre and gunpowder we are every day pro-
ducing. Our knowledge is hourly improving. Resolution
is our inherent character, and courage hath never ye forsaken
us. Wherefore, what is it that we want? Why is it that we
hesitate? From Britain we expect nothing but ruin. If she
is once admitted to the government of America again,
this Continent will not be worth living in. Jealousies will
be always arising; insurrections will be constantly happening;
and who will go forth to quell them? Who will venture
his life to reduce his own countrymen to a foreign obe-
dience? The difference between Pennsylvania and Con-
necticut, respecting some unlocated lands, shews the in-
significance of a British government, and fully proves, that
nothing but Continental authority can regulate Continen-
tal matters.

Another reason why the present time is preferable to all
others, is, that the fewer our numbers are, the more land
there is yet unoccupied, which which instead of being lavished by
the king on his worthless dependants, may be hereafter ap-
plied, not only to the discharge of the present debt, but to
the constant support of government. No nation under hea-
ven hath such an advantage as this.

The infant state of the Colonies, as it is called, so far
from being against, is an argument in favour of indepen-
dance. We are sufficiently numerous, and were we more
so, we might be less united. It is a matter worthy of obser-
vation, that the more a country is peopled, the smaller their
armies are. In military numbers, the ancients far exceeded
the moderns; and the reason is evident, for trade being the
consequence of population, men become too much absorbed
thereby to attend to any thing else. Commerce diminishes
the spirit both of patriotism and military defence. And his-
tory sufficiently informs us, that the bravest achievements
were always accomplished in the non-age of a nation.
With the increase of commerce, England hath lost its spirit.
The city of London, notwithstanding its numbers, submits


“Common Sense, British Edition,” Common Sense Digital Edition, accessed June 25, 2019,

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