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The Power of Words
In colonial times words like “tyranny,” “enslavement,” “entrapment” and “slavery” were
part of the cultural norm. These words were common place and often used to describe the British
control over the colonies, but how much of these descriptions were true? Were the British really
the monsters the colonists made them out to be? The two most “influential” documents of the
time were Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” and Thomas Jefferson’s “The Declaration of
Independence.” Yet were these infamous documents truly inspirational or just some words a
couple of hypocrites slapped down on paper to make the world feel sorry for the colonists?
Thomas Jefferson’s, “Declaration of Independence,” has to be one of the most hypocritical
written documents in history. In the beginning of the “Declaration,” Jefferson states that every
person has the right to live their life any way they choose and it is the government’s job to
enforce these rights. The fact of the matter, though, is that Jefferson and many other colonists
held numerous slaves. These slaves were treated worse than the colonists ever were. Jefferson
himself once admitted that one hour of slavery is worse than an eternity of British rule. Although
Jefferson was one of the biggest hypocrites of all time, he was one of the only intellegent ones.
Jefferson was a smart man. He knew exactly what words to say when it came to issues of the
British “enslavement” of the American people. Although there were numerous poems and
documents that Jefferson read created by slaves in protest of the harsh treatment of slavery, he
knew exactly what words to say to what people. Even though Jefferson contradicted himself many
times in public, very few people until recently noticed. Through out the “Declaration,” Jefferson
speaks of people’s rights and how the government must protect these rights or be abolished.
However, the government never cared about slave’s rights, they were seen as evil by nature. Over
5,000 of these slaves even fought in the Revolutionary War and died in battle in hopes of gaining
freedom or respect from their rich white masters.
Just as slaves were seen as objects, so were women in colonial times. As a matter of fact,
Abigail Adams wrote numerous letters to her husband John weeks before the “Declaration” was
written urging him to “think of the ladies.” Women fought very hard during the revolution. Before
the war, they held numerous protests in the middle of the street. They would sew their clothes and
drink herbal tea (to show that they did not need the British for anything) and read and speak about
the British rule. These women were highly criticized and laughed at by both men and women
alike, yet they kept fighting all the way until the Revolutionary War. During the war, women
acted as nurses and cooks to the soldiers. Some women even entered the battle lines. Deborah
Samson was the most famous of these women. She dressed as a man and fought hardly for liberty.
In the end, however, the “Decleration” doesn’t even contain the word woman anywhere in it. Not
once does Jefferson even bother to write the word woman in his “Declaration”
It is quite obvious that the “Declaration” Jefferson wrote was made solely for the rich
white male. Women, slaves and the poor were completely left out of the “Declaration of
Indepenedce.” This enforces the fact that Jefferson was a hypocrite. He sees these people the way
he claims the British see the colonists.
Although Jefferson’s “Declaration of Independance” was filled with hypocricy, Thomas
Paine’s “Common Sense” was one of the only truly inspirational written documents of the time.
Paine’s “Common Sense” was a simplistic real world approach to the grievances of the American
people. Paine understood that if he used big sophisticated words, less than half the people of the
colonies would be able to read and understand it. Paine spoke of families and how no matter what
savage roots they had, a family would never “wage war upon their families” or “devour their
young.” Paine speaks of how the British killed and tortured countless Americans, including
civilians using a simple metaphor of a family, which of course anyone could understand with any
difficulty. Paine then goes on to state that they did not flee from “the tender embrace of the
mother, but from the cruelty of a monster.” He also states that nothing has changed in the British
empire since the first emigrants left from Britian to America. Paine claims that tyranny and
savagery still reign supreme in the British empire and how
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Religion, Politics of the United States, Age of Enlightenment, Politics, American Revolution, Pamphlets, Randolph family of Virginia, Thomas Paine, United States Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, Common Sense, Paine
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