Common Sense, British Edition

Of the Origin and Design of Government in General. With Concise Remarks on the English Constitution.

Page 2

2                              COMMON SENSE.

In order to gain a clear and just idea of the design and end
of government, let us suppose a small number of persons
settled in some sequestred part of the earth, unconnected
with the rest, they will then represent the first peopling of
any country, or of the world. In this state of natural liberty,
society will be their first thought. A thousand motives will
excite them thereto, the strength of one man is so unequal to
his wants, and his mind, so unfitted for perpetual solitude,
that he is soon obliged to seek assistance and relief of another
who in his turn requires the same. Four or five united
would be able to raise a tollerable dwelling in the midst of a
wilderness ; but one man might labour out the common
period of life without accomplishing any thing ; when he
had felled his timber he could not remove it, nor erect it after
it was removed; hunger in the mean time would urge him
from his work, and every different want call him a different
way. Disease, nay even misfortune would be death, for tho’
neither might be mortal, yet either would disable him from
living, and reduce him to a state in which he might rather be
said to perish than to die.

Thus, necessity like a gravitating power, would soon form
our newly arrived emigrants' into society, the reciprocal
blessings of which, would supersede, and render the obliga-
tions of law and government unnecessary while they re-
mained perfectly just to each other; but as nothing but
heaven is impregnable to vice, it will unavoidably happen,
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 inforced 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 cancerns will in-
crease likewise, and the distance at which the members may
be seperated, will render it too inconvenient for all of them



“Common Sense, British Edition,” Common Sense Digital Edition, accessed April 16, 2024,

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