Common Sense, British Edition

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

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Of the origin and design of government in ge-
neral. With concise remarks on the English

SOME writers have so confounded society with govern-
ment, as to leave little or no distinction between them ;
whereas they are not only different, but have different
origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government
by our wickedness ;  the former promotes our happiness
positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively
by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse,
the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last
a punisher.

Society in every state is a blessing, but government even
in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an
intolerable one ; for when we suffer, or are exposed to the
same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a
country without government, our calamity is heightened by
reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.
Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence;
the palaces of kings are built on the ruins of the bowers of
paradise. For were the impulses of conscience clear, uni-
form, and irresistably obeyed, man would need no other
lawgiver; but that not being the case, he finds it necessary to
surrender up a part of his property to furnish means for the
protection of the rest ; and this he is induced to do by the
same prudence which in every other case, advises him out of
two evils to chuse the least. Wherefore security being the
true design and end of govenment, it unanswerably follows,
that whatever form thereof appears most likely to insure it to
us, with the least expence and greatest benefit, is preferable
to all others.

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“Common Sense, British Edition,” Common Sense Digital Edition, accessed June 18, 2024,

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