Thomas Paine & “Try Men’s Souls” Excerpt


Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine wrote numerous pamphlets in support of the American Revolution.  His most famous quote is from The Crisis and begins “THESE are the times that try men’s souls.”  What comes afterwards, is an exhortation to fight against British oppression.  The following is the introduction to “The Crisis:”

“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.”

To read the full text and many other primary docs of America’s history:

Tomorrow:   A Vintage Postcard from  New York      Rita Bay


Filed under Wednesday's Words

2 responses to “Thomas Paine & “Try Men’s Souls” Excerpt

  1. Steve

    The country needs several like Mr. Paine on the Hill these days as it seems we’re doing the Britain thing all over again. Look forward to your next post.

    • Mr. Paine ended rather badly. He was more of a idea man and rouser than a soldier or statesman. He left the US when the war ended for England and France. He got in trouble with the French–wrote a doc defending the French Revolution but did not support the execution of King Louis. Ended up in a French prison, sentenced to execution but was rescued by President Madison. Died in NYC unmourned. Sad end. Rita Bay

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