Saturday, December 18, 2010

These are the times that try men's souls.

At a time when the American war for Independence would be over before it started, an English gentleman by the name of Thomas Paine created his second most recognized pierce of writing. Over 230 years ago, on December 19, 1776, Thomas Paine's American Crisis #1 was published. 

By November 1776, what had seemed like a good idea in declaring independence, was falling apart. After nearly four months of military defeats the American colonist’s started having doubts about their cause. The loss of the City of New York, the loss of troops and supplies with the fall of Fort’s Washington and Lee, appeared to signal the death of the movement for independence.

With troops abandoning the State of New York and retreating through New Jersey, people started to realize that this war would not end quickly. After so much bad news, morale in the patriot cause of freedom was nearly gone. Citizen’s, who once praised the Declaration of Independence, were turning their backs on the cause.  

With morale dropping, Thomas Paine, writer of “Common Sense,” wrote the “American Crisis.” Published on Dec. 19, 1776, when George Washington's army was on the verge of disintegration, Paine’s address was a response to the mood of the country. Based upon Paine's simple religious beliefs, they showed the conflict as a stirring melodrama with the angelic colonists against the forces of evil.
Paine’s stirring words brought hope to many void of hope spurred Americans to fight on through the blackest years of the war. Between December 1776 and December 1783, Thomas Paine wrote 13 essays entitled The American Crisis. The first paragraph is essay number 1 of the most famous pieces of The American Crisis series. 

“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 their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated. Britain, with an army to enforce her tyranny, has declared that she has a right (not only to TAX) but "to BIND us in ALL CASES WHATSOEVER" and if being bound in that manner, is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth. Even the expression is impious; for so unlimited a power can belong only to God."

“The American Crisis,” has found its place in American history time after time. Days after the September 11, 2001 attacks, this paragraph was sent through the internet to support an American public in shock of the devastation. To read the entire American Crisis series click here for just The American Crisis #1 click here.

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