Discussion Topic

The intended audience of Thomas Paine's "The Crisis."

Summary:

The intended audience of Thomas Paine's "The Crisis" was the American colonists. Paine aimed to inspire and motivate them to continue their fight for independence from British rule, appealing to both soldiers and civilians by addressing their struggles and encouraging them to endure for the cause of liberty.

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Who is the intended audience of Thomas Paine's "The Crisis"?

There are a number of audiences for this piece.  First and foremost, Paine is addressing supporters of the war.  This pamphlet was written in December of 1776, one of the lowest points of the war.  Paine wants to encourage those who are already giving their service to the war effort, both those in the fields and those at home supporting the men.  One of Paine's most quoted lines supports this idea: "The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman."  Paine then reiterates what he sees as the reasons for why this war is important to fight: "Tyranny, like Hell, is not easily conquered."  

Linked to that first audience is a more specific audience; George Washington read this pamphlet to his troops before they famously crossed the Delaware.  This pamphlet was the rallying cry for the militiamen, encouraging them to change the course of the war.

Another audience that Paine anticipates, because he knew that the pamphlets would be widely distributed, are the Tories, those living in the Colonies who support the British.  Paine reasons that these men are too cowardly to join the fight on the British side, but also too cowardly to leave the Colonies.  Paine calls them out on their cowardliness in hopes of prompting them one way or the other.  

It is helpful to note that there is a connection between audience and writer's purpose.  Thus with Paine, while he states at the beginning his intended audience, the reader has to look for audiences beneath the surface.

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Who was the intended audience of "Crisis, No 1" by Thomas Paine?

In "Crisis Number 1," Thomas Paine tries to convince the average, undecided colonist to support the Patriots in their fight against the British. Many colonists believed an attempt at gaining independence from Great Britain was futile. These people believed the chances that the thirteen colonies could mount a successful fight against one of the world’s most powerful countries seemed remote at best. Also, some of these people were comfortable living under the rule of the British.

These were the people that Thomas Paine was trying to reach. He wanted to convince them that British government represented a system of tyranny and that the colonists didn’t have to accept life under such a system. He also appealed to their religious values, making this struggle appear to be a struggle against the British who were trying to gain so much power that they were really taking powers that belonged to G-d.

Thomas Paine was trying to reach the people who were undecided if breaking from the rule of the British was really in their best interests. Thomas Paine made the case that it was in their best interest to break from the rule of the British and support the cause of the Patriots.

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Who was the intended audience of "Crisis, No 1" by Thomas Paine?

Thomas Paine wrote The American Crisis--a 16-pamphlet series published primarily during the early years of the American Revolution--to bolster support for the American colonists' efforts to gain independence from Great Britain. His intended audience was primarily American patriots.

When "Crisis no. 1" was published in December 1776, patriot morale was low, and there was much uncertainty about whether the Americans had the strength and fortitude to defeat the mighty army of Great Britain. Paine sought to increase their morale; thus he used simple language which commoners could understand. "Crisis no. 1" was read to the Continental Army prior to the Battle of Trenton and helped to rally the troops.

While disheartened patriots were his primary audience, Paine also hoped this pamphlet would convince people still loyal to Britain to turn and fight for the Americans.

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