Fullerton College American Re


Thomas Paine and Landon Carter offer two opposing perspectives from
the first half of 1776 on whether the British American colonies should
declare their independence. Paine, the younger radical, made the case
in Common Sense that declaring independence and creating a
republic was the only rational thing to do. On the other hand, the
older and more cautious Landon Carter still hoped to reconcile with
Britain if at all possible, and certainly did not want to live in a
republic if independence became absolutely necessary. Although he
believed he had been the first man in all of Virginia to denounce the
Stamp Act (see his entries from July 14 and July 25 on this claim) and
he hated King George III, he had a hard time fathoming the possibility
of leaving the British Empire, and he blamed the author of Common Sense (whose
identity he did not know) for misleading British-American colonists
into considering independence before it was absolutely necessary.

In other words, Paine argued that staying in the British Empire would
be disastrous, while Carter argued that trying to leave it before all
attempts at reconciliation were exhausted would be disastrous. And both
thought the other was an absolute fool.

In this discussion, we are going to stage a debate between these two
men. Please see the announcement in your specific group discussion to
learn which reading you have been assigned to defend. You will submit
an initial post from your assigned person’s perspective that presents two arguments
against the other figure’s position. Then, in your required responses,
you can reply to your enemies’ posts to defend your position, make
further attacks, whatever.

Be insightful, but let’s also have fun with this! These men didn’t
hold back in their own writings, and neither should you in this
discussion. I will expect you to use common sense of your own and avoid
anything that even suggests racism, sexism, homophobia, or other
discriminatory insults that are not acceptable in 2021. But other than
that, let the insults fly! We can’t have enough accusations of
“scoundrel,” “coward,” “sycophant,” “manipulator,” etc. in this
discussion! (As long as there is also some substance to your
insults–i.e., why are you calling Paine a scoundrel, or Carter
a sycophant? How does doing so help you defend your position on
independence?) Landon Carter certainly took Paine’s attacks very
personally (even though they didn’t know one another and Paine would
have never heard of Carter), and Paine didn’t hold back on those he
viewed as insufficiently radical on the question of independence–so
let’s see the hurt, outrage, anger, disdain, arrogance, and whatever
other emotions you can simulate in in your posts to capture the essence
of your assigned man’s arguments!

MAINLY FOCUS: On Thomas Paine Ignore Landon Carter

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