Thomas Paine’s “The Crisis”
Honors English 11

20 November 2002

Thomas Paine wrote a series of compelling, informative, and persuasive essays and speeches, but the one that is going to be covered is the ever popular “The Crisis”. Paine knew that there was going to be war against Britain due to their decision not to compromise with the colonies, and knowing that the war was going to need the support of all the colonists, he understood that unity was essential and found it necessary to offer what he could to help unite the thirteen colonies into one nation. In 1776, Paine wrote The Crisis, Number One, a plain spoken commentary outlining obstacles the colonies faced in the struggle with Britain. His conviction was to unite all in the colonies and expose the stubbornness and tyranny of Britain in hopes of gaining the support of the Loyalists and neutrals to support the cause with the Patriots.

Thomas Paine’s call to action, or purpose for writing this autocratic piece was that he knew that supported his beliefs on the colonies independence from Britain. He believed that the colonies were slaves to Britain, and in turn, a country should not be tied down to an island. He thought that the British government was evil and tyrannical, due to the many requests for fairness that were denied by the king. He supported war against Britain, and independence for the colonies. This is clearly the clearly illustrated purpose of this piece of writing.

Thomas Paine uses many different persuasive devices to lure his reader into agreeing with his same opinion. Among these devices are logical and emotional appeals. He also uses many rhetorical devices as well. Some examples of logical appeals can be seen in the writing when Paine talks about how panics can sometimes be a good thing because they show man firmer habits than before. This is illustrated in the quote: “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 the, and acquires a firmer habit than before. But their peculiar advantage is, that they are touch stones of sincerity and hypocrisy and bring things to men and light, which might otherwise have lain forever undiscovered.”

A good example of emotional appeals used is the quote “The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands now deserves the thanks of a man and woman.” What this quote is saying is that the patriots that are only patriotic when times are all well and good, are not real patriots at all. The patriots that will stand up in hard times and fight, and do what they have to do for their country, are the ones that should receive the respect, love and recognition from the people.

Rhetorical devices that can be seen in “The Crisis” are: “Why is it that the enemy have left the New England provinces, and made these middle ones the seat of war? The answer is easy. New England is not infested with Tories and we are.” By this, Paine is illustrating how awful the Tories (British followers) are, and how they affect the Colony’s rise to freedom. He gets rhetorical by using a question that he answers himself.

Most of the authors reasons for wanting to separate from Britain are based upon facts, but backed by strong opinions. This can be seen in the phrase “I have as little superstition in me and 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 parish….” In this quote he uses a lot of his own opinion in saying that he thinks that because the British are so evil, God will not forsake them. Also though, he has reason for wanting to rebel against British rule because of the lack of freedom and respect for the people, which is based on the numerous denies of laws by the people.

Another reason is when Paine says, “Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial