What is A Owen Aldridge's opinion of Thomas Paine's The Crisis in his article?

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

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Aldridge writes about how Paine's work is regarded as a political treatise, but actually reads more of exhortations with a "cheerful gloom" tone.  Aldridge analyzes the impact that Paine's work holds, a work that he notes receives much less analysis than his other pamphlet, Common Sense. Aldridge points out one of the striking features of Paine's work is that it captures an American spirit, an essence that would not articulated until quite later.  In writing about a situation where the start of the war featured more British victories than Colonial ones, and a setting where the might of the British was on display for all, Aldridge suggests that one striking feature of the pamphlet was how Paine was able to see through this and argue that success is intrinsic to the spirit of positivism that was such a part of the Colonies:

...Paine introduces the theory that the physical size of America exercises a kind of metaphysical influence upon the inhabitants of the country by endowing them with sublime thoughts and superior abilities, a theme which he later developed in Rights of Man and which became celebrated in the bombastic phrases of his admirer, Walt Whitman.

It is interesting to note that Paine was able to envision a notion of America that would not be fully articulated until the Transcendental movement, a good seventy to eighty years before its time.  Such a notion highlights Aldridge's belief that Paine understood much about America even before America did.  He recognized that victory was essential in order to bring this character out of its own nation and into the world.  For this, Aldridge believes that Paine should receive much in way of praise.

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