The Crisis By Thomas Paine

Digital Textbook: p170

From The Crisis

By Thomas Paine



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. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem
too lightly:— ’Tis dearness only that gives everything its value.
Heaven knows how to set a proper price upon its goods; and it would
be strange indeed, if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not
be highly rated. Britain, with an army to enforce her tyranny, has
declared, that she has a right (not only to TAX) but “to BIND us in
ALL CASES WHATSOEVER”[1] and if being bound in that manner is not
slavery, then there is not such a thing as slavery upon earth. Even the
expression is impious, for so unlimited a power can only belong to

Whether the Independence of the Continent was declared too
soon, or delayed too long, I will not now enter into as an argument;
my own simple opinion is, that had it been eight months earlier, it
would have been much better. We did not make a proper use of last
winter, neither could we, while we were in a dependant state. However,
the fault, if it were one, was all our own; we have none to blame but
ourselves. But no great deal is lost yet; all that Howe has been doing for
this month past is rather a ravage than a conquest which the spirit of
the Jersies a year ago would have quickly repulsed, and which time and
a little resolution will soon recover.

I have as little superstition in me as any man living, but my secret
opinion has ever been, and still is, that God almighty will not give
up a people to military destruction, or leave them unsupported
to perish, who had so earnestly and so repeatedly sought to avoid
the calamities of war, by every decent method which wisdom could
invent. Neither have I so much of the infidel in me, as to suppose, that
he has relinquished the government of the world, and given us up to
the care of devils; and as I do not, I cannot see on what grounds the
king of Britain can look up to heaven for help against us: A common
murderer, a highwayman, or a housebreaker, has as good a pretense as

A.How and why does Paine refer to God in line s 10-15?

That unlimited power only belong to God, not man.

B.Lines 26-36

Highlight the emotional analogy

I once felt all that kind of anger, which a man ought to feel, against
the mean principles that are held by the Tories:[2] A noted one, who
kept a tavern at Amboy,[3] was standing at his door, with as pretty a
child in his hand, about eight or nine years old, as most I ever saw, and
after speaking his mind as freely as he thought was prudent, finished
with this unfatherly expression, “Well! give me peace in my day.” Not
a man lives on the Continent but fully believes that a separation must
some time or other finally take place, and a generous parent would
have said, “If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child
may have peace;” and this single reflection, well applied, is sufficient
to awaken every man to duty. Not a place upon earth might be so
happy as America. Her situation is remote from all the wrangling
world, and she has nothing to do but trade with them. A man may
easily distinguish in himself between temper and principle, and I am
as confident, as I am that God governs the world, that America will
never be happy until she gets clear of foreign dominion. Wars, without
ceasing, will break out until that period arrives, and the Continent
must in the end be conqueror; for, though the flame of liberty may
sometimes cease to shine, the coal never can expire. . . .

I turn with the warm ardor of a friend to those who have nobly
stood, and are yet determined to stand the matter out: 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. Let it be told
to the future world, that in the depth of winter, when nothing but
hope and virtue could survive, that the city and the country, alarmed
at one common danger, came forth to meet and to repulse it. Say not,
that thousands are gone, turn out your tens of thousands; throw not
the burden of the day upon Providence, but “shew your faith by your
works,” that God may bless you. It matters not where you live, or what
rank of life you hold, the evil or the blessing will reach you all. The far

C.In lines 37-47 highlight the emotional appeal

and the near, the home counties and the back, the rich and the poor,
shall suffer or rejoice alike. The heart that feels not now, is dead: The
blood of his children shall curse his cowardice, who shrinks back at a
time when a little might have saved the whole, and made them happy.
I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from
distress, and grow brave by reflection. ’Tis the business of little minds
to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves
his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death. My own line of
reasoning is to myself as strait and clear as a ray of light. Not all the
treasures of the world, so far as I believe, could have induced me to
support an offensive war, for I think it murder; but if a thief break into
my house, burn and destroy my property, and kill or threaten to kill
me, or those that are in it, and to “bind me in all cases whatsoever,” to
his absolute will, am I to suffer it? What signifies it to me, whether he
who does it, is a king or a common man; my countryman or not my
countryman? whether it is done by an individual villain, or an army
of them? If we reason to the root of things we shall find no difference;
neither can any just cause be assigned why we should punish in
the one case, and pardon in the other. Let them call me rebel, and
welcome, I feel no concern from it; but I should suffer the misery of
devils, were I to make a whore of my soul by swearing allegiance to
one, whose character is that of a scottish, stupid, stubborn, worthless,
brutish man. I conceive likewise a horrible idea in receiving mercy
from a being, who at the last day shall be shrieking to the rocks and
mountains to cover him, and fleeing with terror from the orphan, the
widow and the slain of America.

There are cases which cannot be overdone by language, and this is
one. There are persons too who see not the full extent of the evil that
threatens them; they solace themselves with hopes that the enemy,
if they succeed, will be merciful. It is the madness of folly to expect
mercy from those who have refused to do justice; and even mercy,
where conquest is the object, is only a trick of war: The cunning of
the fox is as murderous as the violence of the wolf; and we ought to
guard equally against both. Howe’s first object is partly by threats and
partly by promises, to terrify or seduce the people to deliver up their
arms, and receive mercy. The ministry recommended the same plan
to Gage, and this is what the Tories call making their peace; “a peace
which passeth all understanding” indeed! A peace which would be the
immediate forerunner of a worse ruin than any we have yet thought of.
Ye men of Pennsylvania, do reason upon those things! Were the back
counties to give up their arms, they would fall easy prey to the Indians,
who are all armed: This perhaps is what some Tories would not be
sorry for. Were the home counties to deliver up their arms, they would
be exposed to the resentment of the back counties, who would then
have it at their power to chastise their defection at pleasure. And were
any one State to give up its arms, that State must be garrisoned by all
Howe’s army of Britons and Hessians to preserve it from the anger of

D. Highlight the parallel structure in lines 81-84

E..Explain the comparisons that Paine makes to British war tactics in lines 99–101.
What point is the author making? What emotion does
this passage evoke?

He compares the war tactics towards the cunning of the fox. Showing we need to be on guard.

the rest. Mutual fear is a principal link in the chain of mutual love, and
woe be the State that breaks the compact. Howe is mercifully inviting
you to barbarous destruction, and men must be either rogues or fools
that will not see it. I dwell not upon the vapours of imagination; I
bring reason to your ears; and in language, as plain as A, B, C, hold up
truth to your eyes.

I thank God that I fear not. I see no real cause for fear. I know
our situation well, and can see the way out of it. While our army was
collected, Howe dared not risk a battle, and it is no credit to him that
he decamped from the White Plains, and waited a mean opportunity
to ravage the defenceless Jerseys; but it is great credit to us, that,
with an handful of men, we sustained an orderly retreat for near an
hundred miles, brought off our ammunition, all our field-pieces,
the greatest part of our stores, and had four rivers to pass. None can
say that our retreat was precipitate, for we were near three weeks in
performing it, and the country might have time to come in. Twice
we marched back to meet the enemy and remained out till dark.
The sign of fear was not seen in our camp, and had not some of the
cowardly and disaffected inhabitants spread false alarms through the
country, the Jerseys had never been ravaged. Once more we are again
collected and collecting; our new army at both ends of the Continent
is recruiting fast, and we shall be able to open the next campaign with
sixty thousand men, well armed and clothed. This is our situation,
and who will may know it. By perseverance and fortitude we have the
prospect of a glorious issue; by cowardice and submission, the sad
choice of a variety of evils—a ravaged country—a depopulated city—
habitations without safety, and slavery without hope—our homes
turned into barracks and bawdy-houses for Hessians, and a future race
to provide for whose fathers we shall doubt of. Look on this picture,
and weep over it!—and if there yet remains one thoughtless wretch
who believes it not, let him suffer it unlamented



1.The opening sentence of the essay is one of the most famous in American Literature. Explain the point that Paine is making here. Which word choices make the sentence memorable.

The opening was quite impactful. Referring towards the crisis and effect it had on everyone.

2. Find examples of loaded language in lines 1-15. To which emotion do these words appeal?

His words of language convey the emotions of anger and disappointment.

3. What is Paine calculating will be the result of the ethical appeal he uses in lines 37-47?

He wants the colonists to pursue their freedom and happiness, so that future generations don’t have to go through their days without peace.

4.A writer’s tone is his or her attitude towards the subject.What is Paine’s tone in lines 56-71? What rhetorical and persuasive techniques help convey this tone?

His tone was passionate and outgoing. And he used metaphors to pursue this emotion.

5.What analogy does Paine make in lines 75-86 ? What conclusions does he want us to draw from this analogy?

How Britain used our rights “trespassing” to their own favor and wantings.

6.According to Paine in lines 101-120 what would happen if colonies acceded to Howe’s demand to relinquish their arms? What does he want to persuade readers about in this passage? Howe’s most likely won’t honor his word. Causing the colonists to lose against Britain.

7. Read lines 121-138. What is Paine’s purpose in including these details about the war? Is this an effective way to conclude this essay his essay? Explain.

He wanted to make an contrast of the crisis of the war, and the crisis the colonists were facing with Britain.