How would you explain the following quotation from "The Crisis" by Thomas Paine?"I call not upon a few, but upon all; not on this state or that...
How would you explain the following quotation from "The Crisis" by Thomas Paine?
"I call not upon a few, but upon all; not on this state or that state, 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."
Paine wrote this installment of The Crisis on December 23, 1776, during the darkest part of the Revolutionary War, when it seemed as though the colonists might lose. He began this essay with the famous line "These are the times that try men's souls." He then recounted the Colonial Army's retreat from Hackensack to the Delaware. He asked why the British had deserted New England and had lodged themselves in the Middle Colonies and concluded that "The answer is easy: New England is not infested with Tories, and we are." In other words, many Americans in the Middle Colonies were sympathetic to the crown and to the British cause, and Paine wrote that the British were expecting the colonists to help them. Paine then wrote, in the quote in the question, that he called upon all colonists to fight with the Patriots against the British. He said it was time to show too much force rather than too little, and he called on all Americans, whatever their station or location, to aid the revolution so that the colonists could begin to turn the tide in their struggle against the British.
By "lay your shoulders to the wheel," Paine means that Americans should be willing to put forth a strong, collective effort toward independence. It evokes images of people putting their entire bodies into pushing a wagon wheel in order to get it out of a ditch or a rut. The "object" of this effort must be independence, which is really Paine's central point. He is suggesting that only by working together, and by massive sacrifice and effort, can Americans achieve independence. Paine's rhetoric drew on an image (and indeed a colloquial expression) that would have been familiar to many Americans.