What is Thomas Paine saying in The American Crisis?
Paine published The American Crisis No. 1, by far the most famous of the pamphlet series, in December of 1776, a time in which American fortunes in the Revolutionary War were at a low ebb. This was the time when the Americans had been driven from the vicinity of New York City after the campaign on Long Island, a campaign from which George Washington and his forces narrowly escaped total destruction. Additionally, the enlistment terms of many in the Continental Army were up on January 1, which meant that Washington's army, already outmanned, was threatened with disintegration with morale very low. So Paine's American Crisis was intended to be a sort of rallying cry for the Americans, both on the home front and among the Continental Army especially, to whom Washington had it read aloud.
Paine is basically urging Americans to continue fighting the good fight against the British. He opens by acknowledging that "these are the times that try mens' souls," and urges Americans to regard this as a challenge to be overcome rather than a source of disillusionment or despair:
The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.
He goes on to argue, basically, that the Americans cannot lose, because they are...
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