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[236] said further, ‘breathes revenge, and threatens us
Chap. LVI.} 1776. Jan.
with destruction; America must raise an empire of permanent duration, supported upon the grand pillars of truth, freedom, and religion.’

The popular mind was more and more agitated with a silent, meditative feeling of independence; like a jar highly charged with electricity, but insulated. Their old affection for England remained paramount. till the king's proclamation declared them rebels then the new conviction demanded utterance; and as the debates in congress were secret, it had no outlet but the press.

The writer who embodied in words the vague longing of the country, mixed up with some crude notions of his own, was Thomas Paine, a literary adventurer, at that time a little under forty years of age; the son of a Quaker of Norfolk in England, brought up in the faith of George Fox and Penn, the only school in England where he could have learned the principles which he was now to defend, and which it seemed a part of his nature to assert. He had been in America not much more than a year, but in that time he had cultivated the society of Franklin, Rittenhouse, Clymer, and Samuel Adams; his essay, when finished, was shown to Franklin, to Rittenhouse, to Samuel Adams, and to Rush; and Rush gave it the title of common sense.

‘The design and end of government,’ it was reasoned,

is freedom and security. In the early ages of the world, mankind were equals in the order of creation; the heathen introduced government by kings, which the will of the Almighty, as declared by Gideon and the prophet Samuel, expressly disapproved.

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