Category: Economics and Politics

By Thomas Paine

Published in 1817

Reference #1031

“Public Good, Being an Examination into the Claim of Virginia to the Vacant Western Territory, and of the Right of the United States to the same: to which are added, Proposals for Laying off a New State, to be Applied as a Fund for Carrying on the War, or Redeeming the National Debt” was written by English-American political philosopher Thomas Paine and first published in Philadelphia by John Dunlap in 1780. The pamphlet seen here was published in 1817 in London by W. T. Sherwin.

The work served as a public appeal for a convention to redress the weaknesses of the Article of Confederations adopted by Congress on November 17, 1777 and create a stronger central government. The essay also vigorously attacked the trans-Allegheny claims by Virginia, arguing that the Western land should not belong to individual states, but belong to the United States collectively so as the land was populated new states could be incorporated. Paine’s arguments aroused anger in Virginia land speculators; however, in 1781 Virginia ceded most of its Western land to the federal government.