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Crisis, The American


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Series of 13 regular and three specially issued pamphlets by Thomas Paine, published between Dec. 19, 1776, and April 19, 1783. The first pamphlet appeared at a time of gloom and uncertainty, when the Revolutionary army faced defeat because of its retreat across New Jersey and the imminent defection of some of the colonies, and Washington the day before had written “…if every nerve is not strained to the utmost to recruit the new army with all possible expedition, I think the game is pretty near up.” Paine's direct, incisive style, and his stirring opening, “These are the times that try men's souls,” created an immediate reaction in favor of the patriotic cause, and Washington had the pamphlet read before every regiment. The subsequent crossing of the Delaware and the victories at Trenton and Princeton were partly credited to its influence. Later issues continued to oppose defeatism and compromise, and were influential in maintaining morale and a unified spirit in the colonies.

Subjects: Literature.


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