"These Are The Times That Try Men's Souls"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Thomas Paine arrived bankrupt in Philadelphia in November, 1774, having left England for America at the suggestion of Benjamin Franklin. In a short time he was to become the ablest propagandist for the cause of the Revolution. In a series of pamphlets, Common Sense and The American Crisis, he advocated independence and urged armed resistance to the British. Living again in England from 1787 to 1792, he incurred the wrath of the British with The Rights of Man, his reply to Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France. Outlawed in England, he fled to Paris, only to be imprisoned for protesting against the execution of Louis XVI. When his release was obtained by James Monroe in 1794, Paine returned to America, but the deistic views expressed in The Age of Reason (he was falsely accused of being an atheist) brought him scorn and condemnation. In poverty and ill health he lived on until 1809. In the first of sixteen pamphlets now known as The American Crisis, Paine challenges the true American patriot:

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.