Acts, Sparks, Fires And A Pamphlet

It’s only takes a spark to get a fire going… This is the first line of Kurt Kaiser’s 1969 song “Pass It On”.

Pondering on sparks and fires, back in the mid-1700s in the American Colonies of Great Britain, there were a lot of sparks flying around.

In 1764 the Sugar and Currency Acts began to add sparks to a small camping fire in the forest. In 1765 two additional acts followed: Quartering and Stamp Acts added a couple of logs to the fire.

The Declaratory Act of 1766 by Parliament and the infamous Townshend Acts of 1767 gave the growing fire hearth status. The Tea Act of 1773 was the igneous spark where the overlords across the pond deemed it necessary to save their beloved British East India Company.

Having a tax on tea was one thing. Giving the Company a monopoly on the sale of tea in the 13 Colonies was a red poker in the coals for the Sons of Liberty and the Daughters of Liberty.

On the night of December 13, 1773 three ships, Dartmouth, Beaver and Eleanor, were boarded at Griffin’s Wharf in Boston. 342 chests of China tea (92,000 pounds) were cast overboard by the teenage volunteers who comprised most of the boarding party.

This act of vandalism and destruction was long coming. The various acts on taxation and other extreme measures imposed by London reaching the pivotal point of no return ignited a blazing hearth fire in the forest.


However, there was something missing, the final spark to conflagrate the whole forest. An Englishman raised in a poor Quaker family would be the catalyst.

January 10, 1776 the fiery pamphlet COMMON SENSE debuted. Thomas Paine’s cleverly crafted treatise on monarchy electrified the “common man”.

In taverns to state houses “Common Sense” was discussed and absorbed. Like dawn after a bleak month of clouds and fog, the inspiring words lifted men and women to the apex of belief that life did not need a king to rule over it.

It set in motion a revolution against the most powerful nation of earth. On the world scene what was born had never before been seen.

Today in the former American Colonies the political rhetoric and histrionics are sad commentaries on the brave souls like Thomas Paine who defied a King and helped to forge a new nation. What is needed today is a heaping helping of plain old common sense, dignity and compassion.

My grandmother once made a comparison between politicians and visiting preachers. Based on my fading memory, she said

You can always tell how truthful a politician and a visiting preacher man is after they finish Sunday dinner. If they are still licking their fingers after the fried chicken is gone and patting their bloated stomachs covered by their starched shirts, their only use is to visit the outhouse where they are in good company.”

2016! What a year to watch this political carnival of American theater!

Recommend that you read COMMON SENSE. The link is below.

G. D. Williams © 2016

POST 647

Pass It On

Thomas Paine

Within five months of Paine’s arrival, however, the precipitating event to his most famous work would occur. After the battles of Lexington and Concord (April 19, 1775), which were the first military engagements of the American Revolutionary War, Paine argued that America should not simply revolt against taxation, but demand independence from Great Britain entirely. He expanded this idea in a 50-page pamphlet called “Common Sense,” which was printed on January 10, 1776.

Paine landed at Philadelphia on November 30, 1774. Starting over as a publicist, he first published his African Slavery in America, in the spring of 1775, criticizing slavery in America as being unjust and inhumane. At this time he also had become co-editor of thePennsylvania Magazine…

Paine's 77-page pamphlet aimed to outline the reasons for rejecting British authority in the simplest, most straightforward terms, with self-evident arguments and a destiny written in the stars The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Paine’s 77-page pamphlet aimed to outline the reasons for rejecting British authority in the simplest, most straightforward terms, with self-evident arguments and a destiny written in the stars The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

How an unknown and uneducated Englishman who had been in the colonies for little more than a year came to write the most influential essay of the American Revolution—no matter that he had once caught Franklin’s eye during a chance meeting in London—is a mystery not easily solved. Lockean liberalism, classical republicanism, and Leveller radicalism all can be found in Paine’s work, though how much he read Locke, or anyone else, is probably impossible to discover. His love for equality has been traced to Quakerism, his hatred of injustice to growing up next door to a gallows. Good guesses, but guesses all the same.


Government by kings was first introduced into the world by the Heathens, from whom the children of Israel copied the custom. It was the most prosperous invention the Devil ever set on foot for the promotion of idolatry. The Heathens paid divine honors to their deceased kings, and the christian world hath improved on the plan by doing the same to their living ones. How impious is the title of sacred majesty applied to a worm, who in the midst of his splendor is crumbling into dust.

As the exalting one man so greatly above the rest cannot be justified on the equal rights of nature, so neither can it be defended on the authority of scripture; for the will of the Almighty, as declared by Gideon and the prophet Samuel, expressly disapproves of government by kings. All anti-monarchial parts of scripture have been very smoothly glossed over in monarchial governments, but they undoubtedly merit the attention of countries which have their governments yet to form. ‘Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s’ is the scriptural doctrine of courts, yet it is no support of monarchial government, for the jews at that time were without a king, and in a state of vassalage to the Romans.

Near three thousand years passed away from the Mosaic account of the creation, till the Jews under a national delusion requested a king. Till then their form of government (except in extraordinary cases, where the Almighty interposed) was a kind of republic administered by a judge and the elders of the tribes. Kings they had none, and it was held sinful to acknowledge any being under that title but the Lords of Hosts. And when a man seriously reflects on the idolatrous homage which is paid to the persons of Kings, he need not wonder, that the Almighty, ever jealous of his honor, should disapprove of a form of government which so impiously invades the prerogative of heaven.

Monarchy is ranked in scripture as one of the sins of the jews, for which a curse in reserve is denounced against them. The history of that transaction is worth attending to…