A few weeks after Benjamin returned home from his service in the Minutemen, Washington’s troops drove the British out of Boston. At this news, I hoped the conflict was drawing to a close and our lives could return to normal, but things were soon to escalate again, and a radical new idea took hold.
One spring evening Benjamin, brimming with excitement, brought home Mr. Paine’s pamphlet, Common Sense, which he read aloud to me by candlelight. “‘How came the King by a power which the people are afraid to trust and always obliged to check? Such a power could not be the gift of a wise people, neither can any power, which needs checking, be from God.’” His dark eyes shone with excitement. “Mr. Paine put into words what I have thought for some time. It is a matter of common sense.”
I finished drying the last dish and sat at the table with him as he continued.
“The Anglican Church obeys the King of England. If we follow our consciences, we must seek independence from the Crown. And here it says, ‘America would have flourished as much, and much more, had no European power taken any notice of her.’”
It felt like treason, to suggest America would thrive without Crown rule. For the first time, I wondered, Should Americans want independence?
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