George Washington had "Number 1" of The Crisis by Thomas Paine read aloud to his troops during battle. Why do you think he did that?

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In "The Crisis No.1," Thomas Paine begins by setting the stakes of the fight for American independence. The first paragraph begins,

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 his country but he that stands 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:—'Tis dearness only that gives every thing its value.

Paine sets the stage for the severity of the time in which they are living. He notes that many people would "shrink from" the job of defending his land and his people. He refers to those people as "sunshine patriots," meaning they are only loyal to the country when it is easy to do so (like a "fair-weather fan" only cheers on a team when it's winning). The men who would be fighting with Washington are not those kind of patriots; they are more loyal and more noble. This opening would assure them that they are just and are fighting for a moral cause. Paine reminds them that it's not easy to overcome "Tyranny" but that all things worth winning come at a price.

Later in the pamphlet, Paine makes a more explicit call to action that could be seen as a strong motivator to Washington's troops. Paine exclaims,

I call not upon a few, but upon all; not on THIS state or THAT truth but on EVERY state; up and help us; lay your shoulders to the wheel; better have too much force than too little, when so great an object is at stake. Let it be told to the future world, that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive, that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, come forth to meet and to repulse it. Say not, that thousands are gone, turn out your tens of thousands; throw not the bur hen of the day upon Providence, but "Shew your faith by your works," that God may bless you. It matters not where you live, or what rank of life you hold, the evil or the blessing will reach you all. The far and the near, the home counties and the back, the rich and the poor, shall suffer or rejoice alike.

Here, Paine hopes to rally as many as possible to the revolutionary cause; similarly, Washington would want to rally his soldiers behind this cause again before charging into battle. He assures the soldiers that they will be blessed for their loyalty and their sacrifice. Soon after this section, he says that those who do not fight for the country will "curse" his children with his "cowardice," that this choice to fight or not to fight will have repercussions throughout the generations. This would give the soldiers extra motivation to make their families proud and to hopefully ensure a brighter future for their children.

Paine ends the pamphlet talking about fear. He claims that he does not fear because he feels God is on his side and that he is speaking out for justice and truth. The soldiers fighting in the war would feel reassured to hear such a sentiment, as it would be totally natural for them to fear the upcoming battles and their possible outcomes. Overall, "The Crisis No.1" reminds soldiers why they are fighting and appeals to their sense of justice and morality.

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Throughout the years he commanded the Continental Army, Washington had persistent difficulty in recruiting and retaining troops. Uniforms, weapons, and food were often scarce, and he could not always pay his troops—or pay them on time. Morale was often low, especially after hard-fought battles when there were lots of casualties. Many of his troops had farms, businesses, and families that they had to leave behind to fight, and that was a hard sell, particularly because of the might of Britain's army and navy and the deprivations of life as a soldier.

Thomas Paine had seen firsthand Washington's leadership skills, and as an Englishman recently arrived in the colonies, he quickly aligned himself with the American patriots. In "The American Crisis, Number One," his purpose is to boost the morale of the Continental Army and recruit more soldiers. He begins the essay with a challenge, urging men to stick with their commitment to fight even when the odds seem long and the rewards uncertain. Washington needed his troops to hear inspirational words because he was planning the attack in which they crossed the Delaware River to fight the Battle of Trenton.

Paine's final point in this persuasive essay is to cast the war as a defensive war for the colonies. He paints the British as bringers of an offensive war, which he characterizes as murder. He wants the men's perspective to be that in expelling Britain from the colonies they are protecting their own assets and families while winning independence. Washington needed his troops to invest themselves in that message so that he would have the support he needed to win the war.

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George Washington would have had "Number 1" of The American Crisis read to his troops to help motivate them and encourage them to continue the fight. Thomas Paine's The American Crisis discusses some of the hardest parts of the war, and would have reminded the soldiers of their dedication to the American cause. The quote from the reading,

"Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph."

would have reminded the soldiers that if they pushed onward and won, their victory would be much sweeter due to their struggles. This quote also serves to kindle hope in the soldiers. Even though they had lost battles and been pushed back, they should not assume all was lost and give up their fight.

Washington also choose to have part of The American Crisis read to his soldiers because the language would be familiar to them. Paine's writings used vocabulary that would be easy to understand by Washington's men.

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