HIS1301 - The American Crisis
February 24th, 2001 | Back to Blog Listing
Luther Elmore
History 1301
Assignment #2
The American Crisis

As I read through the article Paine wrote two hundred and twenty-five years ago, I found that imagining myself in that time period is impossible. When I read the way that Paine described other countries (mainly England), and the way that he and certainly others felt about groups of people, a sense that we have it really easy came over me.

As Paine gets not halfway into the article, he begins describing his feelings towards the Tories with very expressive adjectives. The simplest of all these adjectives is that they are cowards – plain and simple. One might not be overly offended these days when called a coward, however, I imagine that in 1776 when courage and love were the only two things a man really owned, taking one away from him meant a lot. Paine goes on to describe Toryism as nothing but ‘servile, slavish, and interested fear’. I feel it is safe to say that he was not fond of the Tories.

As I got more and more into Paine’s article, I especially enjoyed his style of rhetoric in regards to encouraging the Americans of the time. In a nutshell, I felt that he wrote a very good English paper (as school would have lead me to believe). Paine describes advances that the militia has taken and will take upon the land and tells the Americans that losses are possible, no doubt about it. Upon doing so, he also assures them that hope should not be lost with these losses. He tells them as the British do one thing and furthermore succeed, they have the following options, and he then proceeds to list them. As an example, he describes that Howe may advance to Philadelphia, and upon doing so may take it over. He tells his readers that if he does not take it over, then they have been victorious and he is ‘ruined’. On the other hand, if he is successful the American armies can split into two and join forces – making it impossible for them both to be conquered (at the same time at least). In my mind, it is of course understood that his predictions and solutions were completely hypothetical. We must remind ourselves, however, that while they may have been hypothetical, they were still predictions and solutions to those predictions – and people in general rely on such things to remain happy and hopeful.

In a completely honest opinion of this text, I found it somewhat difficult to read. As mentioned above, I found impossible or near impossible at least to put myself in the shoes of someone reading this article in December of 1776. Nonetheless, I still found the article to be incredibly insightful to the time period, and very interesting reading because it has such historical content. I found the even more historical value in it through several paragraphs referencing Amboy. As it is, I spent the first seven years of my life in New Jersey and my father was born and raised in what is today South Amboy, thus making me very aware of the described area (200 years progressed of course). On a final note, I did bookmark the site of philosopher’s texts and would like to go back and read over some of Paine’s other articles. I often find myself scribing small philosophies of my own, and am rarely dissatisfied reading the philosophies of others, regardless of their opinions.