Thomas Paine, The Crisis

Categories: Thomas Paine

Throughout the 18th century, America fought relentlessly to gain her independence from the tyrannical reign of the British crown. She fought long and hard for her independence, and on July 4th, of 1776, she gained that independence. However, the battle between America and Great Britain, had not reached a stand still. Even though the United States was now a sovereign nation, it still possessed a weak, under supplied army compared to that of their British counterparts. With battles raging along the coast, Americans began to wonder when the fighting would cease.

During the month of December, the Americans began to gain ground on the British, and closer to the decisive blow, that would end this ordeal for good. At this point, the Americans were on their “last leg”. On Christmas Eve of 1776, as George Washington and his supporting regiment of meager soldiers from the Continental Army, were preparing to cross the Delaware River, to face the appending army of the decorated British Monarchy, Thomas Paine penned, “ The Crisis”, in order to enthrall as sense of patriotism within the weary souls of the soldiers.

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With the hope this inspiration could help the Continental Army overcome what was previously deemed inevitable, Paine accentuated the philosophical ideal that the men would have to makes sacrifice, retain an unbreakable sense of determination, and that they must remain faithful, in order to achieve their ultimate goals of freedom, liberty, and prosperity for their newly founded country. Paine’s message to the soldiers that sacrifice was necessary in order to achieve their goals, needed to inspire the resolve of the solders in a wide array of ways.

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One method that he used to portray his aforementioned message was the implication of several aphorisms in his speech. He used aphorisms within his speech because it related to the solders emotions and logic, in a way that every man could easily comprehend. Paine stated, “Tyranny, like hell is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph “, which implies that their task in front of them may be daunting and difficult at times, but the more that they sacrifice and put into this battle, the sweeter the awards will be in the end.

Paine also repeats this idea, with the use of another aphorism in the successive clause, saying, “Heaven knows how to set a proper place upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed, if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated”, which he uses to stress the idea that sacrifices will be necessary in order to obtain the “celestial and heavenly”, feeling of freedom. Paine simply wanted the men to understand the sacrifices that would have to be made, and the triumphs that would come as a result.

The soldiers sacrifice alone, however, would not be enough to thwart the agenda of the British soldiers; they most also possess an unbreakable sense of determination. Paine expresses this message with the use of logos and pathos, when he says. “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”, which implies that in order for them to be successful, they will have to fight through the hard times, the times of war, the times that “try men’s souls”, and if they do they will reap the benefits.

Paine also used a biblical allusion and an extended metaphor to support his ideal of determination by saying, “ Say not, that thousands are gone, turn out your tens of thousands”, which is an illusion to 1 Samuel 18:7, which says, “Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands. ” Paine uses this allusion and extended metaphor to inspire the soldiers, because it was said by the woman of Israel shortly after David defeated Goliath.

He was comparing The Continental Army to David; small, timid, but determined, while he was comparing the British Army to Goliath; strong, confident, but frivolous. When Paine said this, he was able to instill a sense of determination within the minds of the soldiers, because they too, could overcome the inevitable if they remained focused and determined. Paine expressed that great sacrifice and determination would be needed to win the battle, but he also stressed the importance of remaining faithful.

He appealed to ethos to rally the soldiers by saying,” I have as little superstition in me as any man living, but my secret opinion has ever been, and still is, that God Almighty will not give up a people to military destruction, or leave them unsupported to perish, who have so earnestly and so repeatedly sought to avoid the calamities of war, by every decent method which wisdom could invent.

Neither have I so much of the infidel in me, as to suppose that He has relinquished the government of the world, and given us up to the care of devils; and as I do not, I cannot see on what grounds the king of Britain can look up to heaven for help against us: a common murderer, a highwayman, or a house-breaker, has as good pretence as he. ” This appeals to the ethics of the soldiers, because Paine is saying that God s on their side, because of the morality of the Americans, and the lack of morality of the British. He is saying that if they remain faithful that they will win, there is no way that they should not, because they are the better men. Paine’s use of ethical appeal instilled a sense of hope and faith that they will win, which in turn lit the fire within the souls of the men of the Continental Army.

As George Washington was preparing his soldiers to embark on what would eventually be the decisive win that America desperately needed, he read aloud, “ The Crisis”, by Thomas Paine. The timing of Paine’s message being read aloud to the soldiers was nothing short of perfect. Paine was able to use several aphorisms, ethos, pathos, and logs to accentuate the idea that with sacrifice, determination, and faith, that they would come out of the battle victorious. If it had not been for this speech, we may not be a free nation today.

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Thomas Paine, The Crisis. (2016, Sep 21). Retrieved from

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