How is Paine able to use his personal experience in the army to help make his case in The Crisis?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Paine's experience as an officer in the army allowed to give credence and credibility to his writing.  Through his experience in the army, he was able to listen to the narratives of those around him.  It is clear that he understood the fears and doubts of his fellow soldier.  In being able to move freely between ranks and intermingle with different soldiers from different backgrounds, Paine was able to offer up a level of commitment and strength to his words.  This helped out with his message.  When Paine writes about the struggle and the insecurity as well as the questioning of the cause, he is able to not speak his own voice, but rather the voices of the soldiers that are around him.  This directly speaks to their own fears, and in the process allows them to listen clearly to what Paine has to say.  Paine understood that his fundamental purpose in writing the pamphlet was to inspire the men fighting for the Colonial cause.  In an astute manner, Paine grasped that in order to motivate, one has to directly speak.  His experience as a solider afforded him a direct line of communication with those who were listening to and reading his words.

I think that Paine's time as a soldier helps to underscore his points and increase his credibility with his audience in the writing of The Crisis in a couple of ways.  The first would be that Paine understands what the soldiers are enduring.  Being a soldier along with them, he recognizes the formidable British threat and how the early phases of the war were not going well for the Colonists.  He is not writing in a vacuum.  He is writing of experience and in doing so, brings credibility with his words as the soldiers, his audience, understand that it is one of their own who is writing and speaking to them.  At the same time, Paine understands that the soldiers are facing a "crisis" in terms of Washington as their leader.  In his writing, there is an absolute affirmation of Washington's leadership, something that resonates clearly with soldiers.  In assuming the voice of a soldier seeking to inspire his fellow troops, Paine's writing triggers in those intangible elements for which the Colonists fight.  Through speaking as a soldier to an audience of soldiers, Paine's words have greater and added effect in its resonance.