· Relates to the Revolutionary War - 1795
· Fire brand Paine came from England to America and ended up in France which was more revolutionary. Paine was an extreme for the American revolution. He was a conservative in many ways. Conservatives wanted to change what needed changing and leave other things alone. The French revolution went a bit far with the beheadings.
· Freneau praises Thomas Paine: "Thus briefly sketched the sacred rights of man, / How inconsistent with the royal plan! / Which for itself exclusive honor craves, / Where some are masters born, and millions slaves" (1-4).
· In the old system you have a hierarchy where authority flows downward from God ¯ to king ¯ to aristocracy ¯ to pheasants.
· During this period was the idea of natural rights or natural law as opposed to the idea based on diving law and on top-down hierarchy. They looked to nature to find patterns in nature. The drawback is that you will find whatever you are looking for. If you look for democracy you will find democracy; if you look for hierarchy you will find hierarchy.
· While this tended to reflect the mood of those who were looking, there was still a common outlook of what the natural law was. For them, it was that all men are created equal. They believed that the law applies to all people equally, and even the king is not above the law.
· There are modern implications towards the president as to whether or not he is above the law or below the law. These preoccupations and concerns go back to the founding of our nation. We don't want a monarch to do whatever he wants to do.
· During this period we despise the crown: "With what contempt must every eye look down / On that base, childish bauble called a crown" (5-6).
· "From Reason's source, a bold reform he brings, / In raising up mankind, he pulls down kings" (13-14). Natural law is found by reason. This is a different way than before. In the middle ages, reason came from God, revealed through scripture and other authority, and you were forced to submit to it. Now, the idea of how reason worked was changing. A scientific world view was emerging It was that you experiment and study things around you to discover how things are, and do not simply base your opinions on what someone else has told you.
· "Who, that has read and scanned the historic page / But glows, at every line, with kindling rage, / To see by them the rights of men aspersed, / Freedom restrained, and Nature's law reversed" (25-28).
In the middle ages hierarchy was quite natural. It was the way God intended things to be and if you wished different you were being unnatural. If you wished yourself a higher spot, you were thought to be sent by Satan to overturn the hierarchy and replace God at the top of the hierarchy. This is another view of nature, that nature is a clock working things out according to a divine plan of God.
· "Columbia, hail! Immortal be thy reign: / Without a king, we till the smiling plain; / Without a king, we trace the unbounded sea, / And traffic round the globe, through each degree; / Each foreign clime our honored flag reveres, / Which asks no monarch, to support the stars" (35-40).
This is the end of the century and the US is an established operation.
We are able to plow our fields without having a king. Before it was thought
that there needed to be a king and authority in order to be productive.
This led to the argument that a democracy would not work because people
are too corrupt and they need the controlling or guiding influence of authority
over them to make them go out and work. This was part of the American vision
to influence others and become a beacon to the rest of the world about
how they could do things without a king.