Thomas Paine The American Crisis

ISBN 13: 9781507628034

The American Crisis

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The American Crisis is a pamphlet series by 18th century Enlightenment philosopher and author Thomas Paine, originally published from 1776 to 1783 during the American Revolution. Often known as The American Crisis or simply The Crisis, there are 16 pamphlets in total. Thirteen numbered pamphlets were published between 1776 and 1777, with three additional pamphlets released between 1777 and 1783. The first of the pamphlets were published in Pennsylvania Journal. Paine signed the pamphlets with the pseudonym, "Common Sense." The pamphlets were contemporaneous with early parts of the American Revolution, during a time when colonists needed inspiring works. Paine, like many other politicians and scholars, knew that the colonists weren't going to support the American Revolutionary War without proper reason to do so. They were written in a language that the common person could understand, and represented Paine's liberal philosophy. Paine also used references to God, saying that a war against Kingdom of Great Britain would be a war with the support of God. Paine's writings bolstered the morale of the American colonists, appealed to the English people's consideration of the war, clarified the issues at stake in the war, and denounced the advocates of a negotiated peace. The first volume begins with the famous words, "These are the times that try men's souls. The first of the pamphlets was released during a time when the revolution was still viewed as an unsteady prospect. Its opening sentence was adopted as the watchword of the movement to Trenton. The opening lines are as follows: These are the times that try men's souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. The pamphlet, read aloud to the Continental Army on December 23, 1776, three days before the Battle of Trenton, attempted to bolster morale and resistance among patriots, as well as shame neutrals and loyalists toward the cause: Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. Along with the patriotic nature of The American Crisis, it displayed Paine's strong deist beliefs, inciting the laity with suggestions that the British are trying to assume powers that only God should have. Paine sees the British political and military maneuvers in the colonies as "impious; for so unlimited a power can belong only to God." Paine states that he believes God supports the cause of the American colonists, "that God Almighty will not give up a people to military destruction, or leave them unsupportedly to perish, who have so earnestly and so repeatedly sought to avoid the calamities of war, by every decent method which wisdom could invent". Paine takes great lengths to state that American colonists do not lack force, but "a proper application of that force" – implying throughout that an extended war could lead only to defeat unless a stable army was composed, not of militia, but of trained professionals. Paine maintains a positive view overall, hoping that this American crisis could be resolved quickly, "for though the flame of liberty may sometimes cease to shine, the coal can never expire.

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About the Author:

English-born Thomas Paine left behind hearth and home for adventures on the high seas at nineteen. Upon returning to shore, he became a tax officer, and it was this job that inspired him to write The Case of the Officers of Excise in 1772. Paine then immigrated to Philadelphia, and in 1776 he published Common Sense, a defense of American independence from England. After returning to Europe, Paine wrote his famous Rights of Man as a response to criticism of the French Revolution. He was subsequently labeled as an outlaw, leading him to flee to France where he joined the National Convention. However, in 1793 Paine was imprisoned, and during this time he wrote the first part of The Age of Reason, an anti-church text which would go on to be his most famous work. After his release, Paine returned to America where he passed away in 1809.

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