Common Sense vs Red Jacket’s Speech to the US Senate

Thomas Paine was born in London on January 29, 1737. He was an Anglo-American political theorist and writer. Thomas Paine’s father tried to give him a good education, but was forced to have his son learn his trade and work. However, this did not stop Paine from writing the most influential pamphlet in America’s history. Paine immigrated to America in 1774 and just two years later published “Common Sense,” which contained the first thoughts of America becoming independent. Paine tried to make the American people see that we should become independent and he made it seem logical through out his pamphlet. (Columbia University, 2007)

“Common Sense” consists of an introduction and four chapters. Each chapter addresses a different perspective of why we should be independent. In Chapter One: Of the Origin and Design of Government in General,  Paine makes the distinction between society and government. In Chapter Two: Of Monarchy and Hereditary Succession, he addresses monarchy from a biblical perspective. In Chapter Three: Thoughts on the Present State of American Affairs, Paine talks about American and British hostilities and how when the British goes to war, so does America. In Chapter Four: Of the Present Ability of America, with Some Miscellaneous Reflexion, Paine talks about our military strength and the availability of natural resources. He makes it seem as if we can not loose, and we have nothing to loose. The chapter that I have chosen to focus on is the third chapter. (Owen, 2004)

Red Jacket was born in 1758 and died in 1830. He was the chief of the Seneca tribe. His Native American name was Otetiani, and later changed to Sagoyewatha when he became a chief. The name Red Jacket came from the British when they gave him a redcoat, much like the “Beefeaters” wore in London. He was well known for his exceptional articulation and talents in dealing with the whites. Red Jacket has been known to promote of hostilities against the colonists, but in the future he attempted to make peace with the U.S. government. In the War of 1812 he supported the United States. Red Jacket despises the ideas of white customs, especially Christianity and “firewater”. It has been said that Red Jacket was an alcoholic and regrets his first drink. (Columbia University, 2007)

Although Red Jacket’s speech is much shorter then “Common Sense” it addresses almost the same exact topics of religion, military strength and the obvious right to have their own land. “Common Sense” shows the colonists the obvious right to independence from Britain and Red Jacket’s speech shows the Native Americans that they should have the right to their own land, and to stop giving it up to the colonists.

One way that Red Jacket tries to appeal to the common man is by using the word “Brother” to start every sentence. When Red Jacket uses the word it is kind of an oxymoron. When Red Jacket uses the term brother, he is referring to the colonists. If one thinks about it, would a brother treat another brother the way that the colonists treated the Native Americans? If you look at the last few sentences in the first paragraph, on page 215, one can see that Red Jacket makes it very clear that the white man came and stole America at a steady pace. Red Jacket’s word choice is impeccable and he makes it clear to the Native Americans that they gave the colonists produce that would be beneficial for the colonists, when the colonists in return gave the Native Americans nothing but poison. The reason Red Jacket uses the term poison is because he had a huge problem with drinking and eventually turned into an alcoholic. (Costa Nunes, 1980)

The first encounter the reader has with the logical fallacy in the essay “Common Sense” is right in the introduction where Thomas Paine states “In the following pages I offer nothing more then plain arguments and common sense. This opening statement is true for throughout the essays. He makes his logics very clear and to the point.

The next logical point made by both Red Jacket and Paine utilizes the “it’s our country”, “it’s our right” card. When this point is brought up by both writers, they make it clear that since it is our country, freedom should obviously be in our hands, not at the hands of the superior. In the second paragraph on page 215, Red Jacket says “we took them to be friends. They called us brothers. We believed them…They wanted more land; They wanted our country.” In translation this means that when the colonists arrived in what is now America they kept taking more and more land which the Native Americans viewed as theirs. On page 331, of “Common Sense”, Paine states “A government of our own is our natural right.” Here Thomas Paine tries to convey the meaning that the only way we the people of the “New World” can be politically satisfied is if we break away from Great Britain and form a government of our own.

The next great point which is delivered by Red Jacket comes half way down page 215. Red Jacket says “You have got our country, but you are not satisfied; you want to force your religion upon us.” This statement must have struck home for a lot of the Native Americans, because this issue was not apparent in one or two tribes. This was apparent to all Native Americans. Throughout the time when colonists were evolving into citizens of the United States many of them felt that the Native Americans were uncivilized and that they had an unclear vision of religion. So many missionaries tried to sway the Native Americans to Christianity. Red Jacket makes a very clear point in the next paragraph where he basically says, if your religion is right and should be the only one out there, then why did we received a copy of the book? This statement does an excellent job of hitting home and making the idea not only clear, but obvious.

The next encounter with a logical fallacy that the reader comes across in Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” is on page 328 when Paine talks about how the only reason Britain showed them any military support, which was minimal, is for the sole purpose of enhancing Britain. America was an economic decision to better Britain, and Britain does not want to see America fail because it is less money for Britain. On the next page Paine stays on the topic of military, however this time it is about how Britain’s military decisions and how they have direct impact on America. For instance, Paine says “Great Britain tends directly to involve this continent in European wars and quarrels, and set us at variance with nations who would otherwise seek our friendship.” Here Paine illustrates to the colonists how whenever Britain goes to war that country will cut off ties with America also, thus having a direct impact on the economy. The logical point that Paine portrays through these pages is the obvious fact of why wouldn’t we (America) want to sever all ties with a country that looks at us as pawns and brings us down with their military decisions.

When Red Jacket ends his speech he uses religion and the fact that the Native Americans just want to live in peace and enjoy their own religion. “Brother: We do not wish to destroy your religion or take it from you. We only want to enjoy our own. The way that Red Jacket utilized the peace tactic was great. Throughout this speech the reader can see that the Native Americans were defiantly taken advantage of by the colonists.

Source by Gillian Smyth

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