In1776, during the great trial and tribulation in America, Thomas Painepublished an article titled “CommonSense,”that challenged the British government and the royal monarchyauthorities. He argued that it was illogical for an island likeBritain to rule a continent like America. This influenced theAmericans to fight for independence. However, some hardcore loyalistswere blindsided by the Paine’s powerful propaganda and wanted todifferentiate the flames it was igniting. Loyalist James Chalmerspublished an article “PlainTruth”in an attempt to strike back. He challenged the Paine’s argumentsabout democracies by giving examples of past democracies like Rome(Bailyn,2012).In addition, he noted the high debts the colonies owed to England.Consequently, he argued that America had no future without the mothercountry. This essay outlines the main motivation of James Chalmers,his targeted audience, his main arguments, and evaluates whether hemade persuasive arguments.
Chalmers’main motivation to write article “PlainTruth”was to challenge Thomas Paine writing “CommonSense”which disputed the British government and the royal monarchyauthorities. Paine argued that the British monarchy was corrupthence, it had no right to govern America (Bailyn,2012).He also argued that the America had the ability to handle itsresponsibilities as a new nation. In response, Chalmers publishedthis article as a response to Paine’s arguments.
Further,Chalmers chose to write the article after waiting for days forsomeone to respond to the Paine’s arguments with anger, but no onedid (Bailyn,2012).In fact, most people complimented it, while New York’sConstitutional Gazette referred it as “a wonderful production.”Rebellion had started to become revolution just because of a simplepamphlet of Paine. Not everyone who read Paine’s work approved it,Chalmers been one of them. He was so anxious and took the initiativeto strike back the fires that Paine was igniting. He could notunderstand why people were appreciating Paine’s work.
UnlikePaine, who targeted the common people to read his publication,Chalmers targeted educated audience, especially the loyalists.According to Jensen(2003),most loyalists were already educated and learned. He used a verysophisticated language that was above the level of most commoners inthe America. Additionally, he used strong literary references hence,a common person could not understand or relate to his arguments. Henoted that only the educated “great unwashed” could be convincedthat their sovereignty depended on England.
Chalmers’main argument in his document was that it was impossible for Americato survive without its mother nation, the Great Britain. He admittedthat America was a weak nation. For that reason, if it becameindependent, it would not trade with Europe because most of itstreaties were under England’s name. This would cut all politicalconnections and treaties it had, which were subservient to theircommerce. He viewed independence as a fantasy that could only harmthem and break ties with their trading partners, and later leave themexposed to the invasion of Spain and France.
Further,Chalmers argued that Britain outmanned and outgunned Americatherefore, it is impossible for Americans to defeat them in a war. Hebelieved that colonies had insufficient resources and work force towin against England. Hence, he stated that it could be wise ifAmericans continued their relationship with the Great Britain. Thiswould save them from misfortune and horrors of war. Moreover, theking of Great Britain would not agree to lose thirteen colonies inAmerica. This was evident because he had previously made outrageouseffort to save America from France. In addition, Chalmers argued thatthe British government was fantastic since a king rules it. Withoutthe control of a king, Chalmers argued that the government coulddecline into democracy, which was imprudent.
Mostpublications and articles are effective if they have persuasivearguments. Unfortunately, James Chalmers writing did not havepersuasive arguments hence, it was ineffective. According to Jensen(2003),a well-organized work makes a persuasive argument. In the PlainTrutharticle, Chalmers did not have a clear-cut and his arguments were notsystematically organized. He wrote a poorly constructed rebuttal,which made the whole thing complex and boring for a commoner tocomprehend.
Further,well-formulated arguments are persuasive. This is whereby the authorputs more stress on the points driving them deeper into the reader’smind. On the contrary, Chalmers writing was only insulting Paine’sarguments and intelligence, as well as other patriots. He wasbragging about the British sovereignty and superiority. As a result,there was little or no influence on the intended audience as all hispoints were scattered.
Toconclude, it is not clear the number the number of American colonistswho opposed or favored independence. However, it is believedone-third opposed it, one-third favored it, and one-third wasundecided. For instance, Thomas Paine, a famous pamphleteer opposedit, while on the other hand, James Chalmers, a Britain loyalistfavored it. The articles “PlainTruth”and CommonSense”give reasons for and against independence.
Bailyn,B. (2012). Theideological origins of the American Revolution.Harvard University Press.
Jensen,M. (2003). Tractsof the American Revolution, 1763-1776.Indianapolis, IN: Hackett.