Thomas Paine "The American Crisis"
The pamphlets were contemporaneous with early parts of the American Revolution, during a time when colonists needed inspiring works. They were written in a language that the common man could understand, and represented Paine's liberal philosophy. Paine's writings bolstered the morale of the American colonists, appealed to the English people's consideration of the war with America, 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."
Contents and themes
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 by 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