Thomas Paine compared Britain to a thief who breaks into a house. How does he use this comparison to motivate colonists to fight?The story is named The Crisis No.1 By: Thomas Paine

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Thomas Paine' pamphlet, "The Crisis," was one of the reasons the colonists were convinced of the need to fight against the British.  Paine, a British citizen, went against the current in his writings, which stressed that the relationship between the British and the Colonists had been so irreparably broken that "'tis time to part."  Paine pointed out that the British treatment of the Colonists was the fundamental reason that this relationship could not be salvaged.  His arguments consisted of the numerous infringements of the colonists' political and economic freedoms at the hands of the British.  This critique extended to the many acts of excessive taxation the British passed against the Colonists, such as the Stamp Act, the Tea Act, and the Townshend Acts.  These measures were passed as Britain needed money to offset their economic challenges caused by their victory in the French and Indian War.  The Colonists were seen as a "cash cow" and Paine argued that it was time for the Colonists to assert their independence, no matter the cost.  In comparing Britain to"a thief who breaks into" a house, Paine is trying to make the British acts of injustice against the Colonists (Acts and Laws and Taxes passed) akin to embezzlement.  The use of rhetoric in this case is intended to motivate the Colonists into action.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In "The Crisis, No.1," Thomas Paine writes

Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death. My own line of reasoning is to myself as straight and clear as a ray of light.  Not all the treasure of the world, so far as I believe, could have induced me to support an offensive war, for I think it murder; but if a thief breaks into my house, burns and destroys my properoty, and kills or threatens to kill me, or those that are in it, and to "bind me in all cases whatsoever," to his absolute will, am I to suffer it?

The analogy of the thief for the British is used by the outspoken Paine to emphasize the unfounded "offensive war" of the British against the personal rights of the Colonists.  The British were stationed in doorways, property was confiscated, men were pressured to give up their arms.  So, Paine considers them analogous to "thieves" who come into the homes of the Colonists, violating their privacy.

Analogies are used often in argument or persuasion to demonstrate the logic of one idea by showing how it is similar to another, accepted idea.

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