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Our citizenship
in the United States is our national character. Our citizenship in any
particular state is only our local distinction. By the latter we
are known at home, by the former to the world. Our great title is
AMERICANS--our inferior one varies with the place.

So far as my endeavors could go, they have all been directed to
conciliate the affections, unite the interests, and draw and keep
the mind of the country together; and the better to assist in this
foundation work of the revolution, I have avoided all places of profit
or office, either in the state I live in, or in the United States; kept
myself at a distance from all parties and party connections, and even
disregarded all private and inferior concerns: and when we take into
view the great work which we have gone through, and feel, as we ought
to feel, the just importance of it, we shall then see, that the
little wranglings and indecent contentions of personal parley, are as
dishonorable to our characters, as they are injurious to our repose.

It was the cause of America that made me an author. The force with which
it struck my mind and the dangerous condition the country appeared to me
in, by courting an impossible and an unnatural reconciliation with those
who were determined to reduce her, instead of striking out into the only
line that could cement and save her, A DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, made
it impossible for me, feeling as I did, to be silent: and if, in the
course of more than seven years, I have rendered her any service, I have
likewise added something to the reputation of literature, by freely and
disinterestedly employing it in the great cause of mankind, and showing
that there may be genius without prostitution.

Independence always appeared to me practicable and probable, provided
the sentiment of the country could be formed and held to the object:
and there is no instance in the world, where a people so extended,
and wedded to former habits of thinking, and under such a variety of
circumstances, were so instantly and effectually pervaded, by a turn
in politics, as in the case of independence; and who supported their
opinion, undiminished, through such a succession of good and ill
fortune, till they crowned it with success.

But as the scenes of war are closed, and every man preparing for home
and happier times, I therefore take my leave of the subject. I have most
sincerely followed it from beginning to end, and through all its turns
and windings: and whatever country I may hereafter be in, I shall always
feel an honest pride at the part I have taken and acted, and a gratitude
to nature and providence for putting it in my power to be of some use to
mankind.

COMMON SENSE.

PHILADELPHIA, April 19, 1783.




A SUPERNUMERARY CRISIS: TO THE PEOPLE OF AMERICA.

IN "_Rivington's New York Gazette_," of December 6th, is a publication,
under the appearance of a letter from London, dated September 30th; and
is on a subject which demands the attention of the United States.

The public will remember that a treaty of commerce between the United
States and England was set on foot last spring, and that until the
said treaty could be completed, a bill was brought into the British
Parliament by the then chancellor of the exchequer, Mr. Pitt, to admit
and legalize (as the case then required) the commerce of the United
States into the British ports and dominions. But neither the one nor the
other has been completed. The commercial treaty is either broken off, or
remains as it began; and the bill in Parliament has been thrown aside.
And in lieu thereof, a selfish system of English politics has started
up, calculated to fetter the commerce of America, by engrossing to
England the carrying trade of the American produce to the West India
islands.

Among the advocates for this last measure is Lord Sheffield, a member
of the British Parliament, who has published a pamphlet entitled
"Observations on the Commerce of the American States." The pamphlet
has two objects; the one is to allure the Americans to purchase British
manufactures; and the other to spirit up the British Parliament to
prohibit the citizens of the United States from trading to the West
India islands.

Viewed in this light, the pamphlet, though in some parts dexterously
written, is an absurdity. It offends, in the very act of endeavoring
to ingratiate; and his lordship, as a politician, ought not to have
suffered the two objects to have appeared together. The latter alluded
to, contains extracts from the pamphlet, with high encomiums on Lord
Sheffield, for laboriously endeavoring (as the letter styles it) "to
show the mighty advantages of retaining the carrying trade."

Since the publication of this pamphlet in England, the commerce of
the United States to the West Indies, in American vessels, has been
prohibited; and all intercourse, except in British bottoms, the property
of and navigated by British subjects, cut off.

That a country has a right to be as foolish as it pleases, has been
proved by the practice of England for many years past: in her island
situation, sequestered from the world, she forgets that her whispers are
heard by other nations; and in her plans of politics and commerce she
seems not to know, that other votes are necessary besides her own.
America would be equally as foolish as Britain, were she to suffer so
great a degradation on her flag, and such a stroke on the freedom of her
commerce, to pass without a balance.

We admit the right of any nation to prohibit the commerce of another
into its own dominions, where there are no treaties to the contrary; but
as this right belongs to one side as well as the other, there is always
a way left to bring avarice and insolence to reason.

But the ground of security which Lord Sheffield has chosen to erect his
policy upon, is of a nature which ought, and I think must, awaken
in every American a just and strong sense of national dignity. Lord
Sheffield appears to be sensible, that in advising the British nation
and Parliament to engross to themselves so great a part of the carrying
trade of America, he is attempting a measure which cannot succeed, if
the politics of the United States be properly directed to counteract the
assumption.

But, says he, in his pamphlet, "It will be a long time before the
American states can be brought to act as a nation, neither are they to
be feared as such by us."

What is this more or less than to tell us, that while we have no
national system of commerce, the British will govern our trade by their
own laws and proclamations as they please. The quotation discloses
a truth too serious to be overlooked, and too mischievous not to be
remedied.

Among other circumstances which led them to this discovery none could
operate so effectually as the injudicious, uncandid and indecent
opposition made by sundry persons in a certain state, to the
recommendations of Congress last winter, for an import duty of five per
cent. It could not but explain to the British a weakness in the national
power of America, and encourage them to attempt restrictions on her
trade, which otherwise they would not have dared to hazard. Neither is
there any state in the union, whose policy was more misdirected to its
interest than the state I allude to, because her principal support is
the carrying trade, which Britain, induced by the want of a well-centred
power in the United States to protect and secure, is now attempting to
take away. It fortunately happened (and to no state in the union more
than the state in question) that the terms of peace were agreed on
before the opposition appeared, otherwise, there cannot be a doubt, that
if the same idea of the diminished authority of America had occurred
to them at that time as has occurred to them since, but they would have
made the same grasp at the fisheries, as they have done at the carrying
trade.

It is surprising that an authority which can be supported with so much
ease, and so little expense, and capable of such extensive advantages
to the country, should be cavilled at by those whose duty it is to watch
over it, and whose existence as a people depends upon it. But this,
perhaps, will ever be the case, till some misfortune awakens us into
reason, and the instance now before us is but a gentle beginning of what
America must expect, unless she guards her union with nicer care and
stricter honor. United, she is formidable, and that with the least
possible charge a nation can be so; separated, she is a medley of
individual nothings, subject to the sport of foreign nations.

It is very probable that the ingenuity of commerce may have found out
a method to evade and supersede the intentions of the British, in
interdicting the trade with the West India islands. The language of both
being the same, and their customs well understood, the vessels of one
country may, by deception, pass for those of another. But this would
be a practice too debasing for a sovereign people to stoop to, and too
profligate not to be discountenanced. An illicit trade, under any shape
it can be placed, cannot be carried on without a violation of truth.
America is now sovereign and independent, and ought to conduct her
affairs in a regular style of character. She has the same right to
say that no British vessel shall enter ports, or that no British
manufactures shall be imported, but in American bottoms, the property
of, and navigated by American subjects, as Britain has to say the same
thing respecting the West Indies. Or she may lay a duty of ten, fifteen,
or twenty shillings per ton (exclusive of other duties) on every
British vessel coming from any port of the West Indies, where she is not
admitted to trade, the said tonnage to continue as long on her side as
the prohibition continues on the other.

But it is only by acting in union, that the usurpations of foreign
nations on the freedom of trade can be counteracted, and security
extended to the commerce of America. And when we view a flag, which to
the eye is beautiful, and to contemplate its rise and origin inspires
a sensation of sublime delight, our national honor must unite with our
interest to prevent injury to the one, or insult to the other.

COMMON SENSE.

NEW YORK, December 9, 1783.







THE WRITINGS OF THOMAS PAINE, VOLUME II.

By Thomas Paine

Collected And Edited By

Moncure Daniel Conway


1779 - 1792



[Redactor's Note: Reprinted from the "The Writings of Thomas Paine
Volume I" (1894 - 1896).



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