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THE WRITINGS OF THOMAS PAINE, VOLUME I.

By Thomas Paine

Collected And Edited By Moncure Daniel Conway


Transcriber's Note:This file posted, on the US President's Day Holiday,
in memory of Thomas Paine, one of our most influential and most
unappreciated patriots.



THE AMERICAN CRISIS


Table of Contents

Editor's Preface

The Crisis No. I

The Crisis No. II - To Lord Howe

The Crisis No. III

The Crisis No. IV

The Crisis No. V - To General Sir William Howe
- To The Inhabitants Of America

The Crisis No. VI - To The Earl Of Carlisle, General Clinton, And
William Eden, ESQ., British Commissioners At New York

The Crisis No. VII - To The People Of England

The Crisis No. VIII - Addressed To The People Of England

The Crisis No. IX - The Crisis Extraordinary - On the Subject
of Taxation

The Crisis No. X - On The King Of England's Speech
- To The People Of America

The Crisis No. XI - On The Present State Of News
- A Supernumerary Crisis (To Sir Guy Carleton.)

The Crisis No. XII - To The Earl Of Shelburne

The Crisis No. XIII - On The Peace, And The Probable Advantages
Thereof

A Supernumerary Crisis - (To The People Of America)




THE AMERICAN CRISIS.




EDITOR'S PREFACE.

THOMAS PAINE, in his Will, speaks of this work as The American Crisis,
remembering perhaps that a number of political pamphlets had appeared in
London, 1775-1776, under general title of "The Crisis." By the blunder
of an early English publisher of Paine's writings, one essay in the
London "Crisis" was attributed to Paine, and the error has continued
to cause confusion. This publisher was D. I. Eaton, who printed as
the first number of Paine's "Crisis" an essay taken from the London
publication. But his prefatory note says: "Since the printing of this
book, the publisher is informed that No. 1, or first Crisis in this
publication, is not one of the thirteen which Paine wrote, but a
letter previous to them." Unfortunately this correction is sufficiently
equivocal to leave on some minds the notion that Paine did write the
letter in question, albeit not as a number of his "Crisis "; especially
as Eaton's editor unwarrantably appended the signature "C. S.,"
suggesting "Common Sense." There are, however, no such letters in the
London essay, which is signed "Casca." It was published August, 1775,
in the form of a letter to General Gage, in answer to his Proclamation
concerning the affair at Lexington. It was certainly not written by
Paine. It apologizes for the Americans for having, on April 19, at
Lexington, made "an attack upon the King's troops from behind walls and
lurking holes." The writer asks: "Have not the Americans been driven
to this frenzy? Is it not common for an enemy to take every advantage?"
Paine, who was in America when the affair occurred at Lexington, would
have promptly denounced Gage's story as a falsehood, but the facts known
to every one in America were as yet not before the London writer. The
English "Crisis" bears evidence throughout of having been written in
London. It derived nothing from Paine, and he derived nothing from it,
unless its title, and this is too obvious for its origin to require
discussion. I have no doubt, however, that the title was suggested
by the English publication, because Paine has followed its scheme in
introducing a "Crisis Extraordinary." His work consists of thirteen
numbers, and, in addition to these, a "Crisis Extraordinary" and a
"Supernumerary Crisis." In some modern collections all of these have been
serially numbered, and a brief newspaper article added, making sixteen
numbers. But Paine, in his Will, speaks of the number as thirteen,
wishing perhaps, in his characteristic way, to adhere to the number
of the American Colonies, as he did in the thirteen ribs of his iron
bridge. His enumeration is therefore followed in the present volume, and
the numbers printed successively, although other writings intervened.

The first "Crisis" was printed in the Pennsylvania Journal, December
19, 1776, and opens with the famous sentence, "These are the times that
try men's souls"; the last "Crisis" appeared April 19,1783, (eighth
anniversary of the first gun of the war, at Lexington,) and opens with
the words, "The times that tried men's souls are over." The great
effect produced by Paine's successive publications has been attested by
Washington and Franklin, by every leader of the American Revolution,
by resolutions of Congress, and by every contemporary historian of the
events amid which they were written. The first "Crisis" is of especial
historical interest. It was written during the retreat of Washington
across the Delaware, and by order of the Commander was read to groups of
his dispirited and suffering soldiers. Its opening sentence was adopted
as the watchword of the movement on Trenton, a few days after its
publication, and is believed to have inspired much of the courage which
won that victory, which, though not imposing in extent, was of great
moral effect on Washington's little army.




THE CRISIS




THE CRISIS I. (THESE ARE THE TIMES THAT TRY MEN'S SOULS)

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 their
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: it is dearness
only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put 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," and if being bound in that
manner, is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon
earth. Even the expression is impious; for so unlimited a power can
belong only to God.

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 dependent 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
Jerseys, a year ago, would have quickly repulsed, and which time and a
little resolution will soon recover.


* The present winter is worth an age, if rightly employed; but, if
lost or neglected, the whole continent will partake of the evil; and
there is no punishment that man does not deserve, be he who, or what, or
where he will, that may be the means of sacrificing a season so precious
and useful.

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 unsupportedly to perish,
who have 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
house-breaker, has as good a pretence as he.

'Tis surprising to see how rapidly a panic will sometimes run through
a country. All nations and ages have been subject to them. Britain has
trembled like an ague at the report of a French fleet of flat-bottomed
boats; and in the fourteenth [fifteenth] century the whole English army,
after ravaging the kingdom of France, was driven back like men petrified
with fear; and this brave exploit was performed by a few broken forces
collected and headed by a woman, Joan of Arc. Would that heaven might
inspire some Jersey maid to spirit up her countrymen, and save her fair
fellow sufferers from ravage and ravishment! Yet panics, in some cases,
have their uses; they produce as much good as hurt. Their duration is
always short; the mind soon grows through them, and acquires a firmer
habit than before. But their peculiar advantage is, that they are the
touchstones of sincerity and hypocrisy, and bring things and men to
light, which might otherwise have lain forever undiscovered. In fact,
they have the same effect on secret traitors, which an imaginary
apparition would have upon a private murderer. They sift out the
hidden thoughts of man, and hold them up in public to the world. Many
a disguised Tory has lately shown his head, that shall penitentially
solemnize with curses the day on which Howe arrived upon the Delaware.

As I was with the troops at Fort Lee, and marched with them to the edge
of Pennsylvania, I am well acquainted with many circumstances, which
those who live at a distance know but little or nothing of. Our
situation there was exceedingly cramped, the place being a narrow
neck of land between the North River and the Hackensack. Our force
was inconsiderable, being not one-fourth so great as Howe could bring
against us. We had no army at hand to have relieved the garrison, had
we shut ourselves up and stood on our defence. Our ammunition, light
artillery, and the best part of our stores, had been removed, on the
apprehension that Howe would endeavor to penetrate the Jerseys, in
which case Fort Lee could be of no use to us; for it must occur to every
thinking man, whether in the army or not, that these kind of field forts
are only for temporary purposes, and last in use no longer than the
enemy directs his force against the particular object which such forts
are raised to defend.



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