Thomas Paine’s CRISIS NO. 1 remains one of the most important pieces of political writing in American history. In fact, without Paine’s influential writing, there may not be an America today because Paine understood what was required in ordered to stimulate the population to oppose the British rulers. Paine realized that simply providing facts as the basis for rallying support for the revolution was not going to be successful.
With Paine, there was an understanding that there needed to be an emotional resonance with the population so as to rally the people to the cause. In order to do this, Paine sought to effectively strike certain cords with his readers and he did so quite effectively. Such actions are used today as well. One can see this in the current political debates regarding the war in Iraq and the Immigration Amnesty controversy. Essentially, Paine acknowledged that the British rulers were tyrants who did not hold the interests of the colonists in high regard.
It was Paine’s intention to portray the British military as a brutal, occupying regime that had stifled the freedoms and the will of the colonists. Because of this, Paine insisted that such tyranny must be fought and overcome with total victory deriving from independence. We see this today in the current crisis in Sudan as there is much outrage designed to sway public opinion on the genocide of Christians in Africa. Paine supports this notion by explaining that much of the colonist’s authority to overthrow the British was based in accordance with God.
That is to say, God was on the side of the colonists and this moral superiority provides the impetus and moral foundation for the colonist’s independence movement. As such, the movement is inherently good and destined for success. Again, this is paralleled today in the Evangelical Christian political movement. Such rhetoric has highly effective in swaying public opinion towards moving the emotions of the colonists to seek their independence and, as history shows, the independence movement was successful. For this, Thomas Paine is deserved of a great deal of thanks and credit.