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Spiritual Reflection from March 21st-22nd, 2017 @ Age 35


Ship-building is America’s greatest pride, and in which she will, in time, excel the whole world.  The great empires of the east are mostly inland, and consequently excluded from the possibility of rivaling her.  Africa is in a state of barbarism; and no power in Europe hath either such an extent of coast, or such an internal supply of materials.  Where nature hath given the one, she hath withheld the other; to America only hath she been liberal of both.  The vast empire of Russia is almost shut out from the sea; wherefore, her boundless forests, her tar, iron, and cordage are only articles of commerce.

In point of safety, ought we to be without a fleet?  We are not the little people now which we were sixty years ago; at that time we might have trusted our property in the streets, or fields rather; and slept securely without locks or bolts to our doors or windows.  The case is now altered, and our methods of defence ought to improve with our increase of property.

A common pirate, twelve months ago, might have come up the Delaware, and laid the city of Philadelphia under instant contribution for what sum he pleased; and the same might have happened to other places.  Nay, any daring fellow, in a brig of fourteen or sixteen guns, might have robbed the whole Continent, and carried off half a million of money.  These are circumstances which demand our attention, and point out the necessity of naval protection.

Some, perhaps, will say, that after we have made it up with Britain, she will protect us.  Can they be so unwise as to mean, that she will keep navy in our harbours for that purpose?  Common sense will tell us that the power which hath endeavored to subdue us, is of all others the most improper to defend us.  Conquest may be effected under the pretense of friendship; and ourselves, after a long and brave resistance, be at last cheated into slavery.  And if her ships are not to be admitted into our harbors, I would ask, how is she to protect us?  A navy three or four thousand miles off can be of little use, and on sudden emergencies, none at all.  Wherefore, if we must hereafter protect ourselves, why not do it for ourselves?  Why do it for another?

Common Sense, Thomas Paine, Circa 1776

§ Of the Present Ability of America, with some Miscellaneous Reflections.