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Responsible Independence

Written for "Farmington/Farmington Hills City Local" Magazine

Published by: Annette Compo - July 1, 2024

© Elaine M. Grohman - Contributing Writer - July 2024 Issue

Image of "Eagle Bear" is from an original painting by © Elaine M. Grohman 2023


Although the 4th of July has only been celebrated as a national holiday since 1941, its significance dates to a time in our nation’s history that will serve us well to reflect upon. Many people are unaware that the Declaration of Independence was sparked by the writing of Thomas Paine in his small but powerful book entitled, “Common Sense.”


Paine’s 47-page pamphlet was indeed founded upon “Common Sense” in a time when common sense was repeatedly thwarted by the greedy taxation of the British monarchy, and at that time, by King George III. Thomas Paine, himself an Englishman, met Benjamin Franklin in 1774, who was influential in Paine’s decision to immigrate to America. Franklin’s introduction letter paved the way for Paine to be employed as a journalist, and through his own efforts was later named the managing editor of the Pennsylvania Magazine.


On January 10, 1776, the first edition of Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense,” was printed and released, and within months sold hundreds of thousands of copies, and by spring and into early summer, caught the attention of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and others, who recognized the wisdom within the pages of this small pamphlet. With clear, powerful language, coupled with direct and unwavering truths about what life was like under a monarchy, “Common Sense” elucidated several key points, which later laid the foundation for the Declaration of Independence. We would be wise to revisit these important points regarding what is meant by the word “Independence,” and how and why the “Declaration of Independence” changed the direction of a Nation and the world.


Throughout the pages of “Common Sense,” Thomas Paine plainly stated five significant points, beginning with “Government’s purpose was to serve the people,” recognizing that government is a “necessary evil,” whose primary purpose is to provide structure so that together problems can be solved so that all people might prosper.


Secondly, that “Having a king was a bad idea.” Paine argued the dangers of a “hereditary monarch,” stating that, “In England a king hath little more to do than to make war and give away places, which in plain terms, is to impoverish the nation and set it together by the ears.”


Thirdly, “America as the home of the free,” should not be beholden to a “mother country” whose own people were enslaved by its monarchs and aristocrats. As the “home of the free,” America was to become the connecting point from people around the world who chose to escape poverty, enslavement, and oppression. “This new world hath been the asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and religious liberty from every part of Europe.” Paine continued by saying, “Hither have they fled, not from the tender embraces of the mother, but from the cruelty of the monster; and it is so far true of England, that the same tyranny which drove the first emigrants from home, pursues their descendants still.”


Fourthly, “America had a rare opportunity to create a new nation based on self-rule.” Aristocrats, religious leaders and monarchs had enslaved countless people across Europe, making families into tenant farmers, unable to own land that their families had once cared for, knowing full well that a genuine separation of Church and State was imperative, otherwise the centuries of monarchs and religious organizations, who worked hand in hand to control the masses, could and would repeat the devastation that has used religious and ethnic “superiority” and “ideologies,” to persecute, maim, and kill countless people. 


And fifth, “A strong central government was needed,” designed to protect individual rights, which included freedom of religion. “A firm bargain and a right reckoning make long friend,” Paine stated.


From this humble pamphlet, our own Declaration of Independence was written and unanimously adopted by the then 13 colonies, represented by 56 delegates, on July 4, 1776, becoming the founding document of the United States.


“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”


And yet, if we are to be honest, we must look further into the brutal challenges of our own past - long before the creation of our “Independence” as a nation. We must honestly look at those whose “independence” was taken from them – and the ruthless ways that another powerful monarch, the Roman Catholic monarch, Pope Alexander VI, who in 1492 penned “The Doctrine of Discovery,” intent upon the destruction of the people and the confiscation of the lands of the Indigenous People of the Americas, commonly known as Native Americans. Little has been taught about the truth behind those whose lives, cultures and traditions were nearly wiped off the face of the Earth, by yet another Monarchy and “kingdom” on Earth. That story is for another article.


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