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"The Crisis" is Thomas Paine''s series of pamphlets published from 1776 to 1783 during the American Revolution. The first pamphlet begins with the famous words "these are the times that try men''s souls" and evokes the mood at the outset of the American Revolution. Many colonists were uncertain of the prospect of war with the British Empire and these pamphlets were designed to bolster morale and resistance among patriots, as well as shame neutrals and loyalists toward the cause. As history would show the conflict with the British for American independence would without doubt be a difficult one but as Paine writes "Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph."
Born in England to a corsetmaker and his wife, Thomas Paine was largely self-educated and held jobs as a sailor, a corsetmaker, and a revenue officer before he met Benjamin Franklin who, recognizing his abilities, gave Paine a letter of introduction and encouraged him to go to America. Paine made the journey in 1774, and was given a job on the Pennsylvania magazine, where he was able to write essays and to view firsthand what life was in the colonies. His first major publication, COMMON SENSE, was a treatise on government, and the need for independence from English rule. It was widely circulated and highly influential in the colonies. Paine joined the revolutionary army and served under General Washington, who distributed another piece by Paine THE AMERICAN CRISIS to his troops. After the war Paine went to England, where he was briefly imprisoned, and to France. He wrote his two-part work on political philosophy RIGHTS OF MAN.