What Is the "American Crisis" by Thomas Paine?

"The American Crisis" by Thomas Paine is a series of papers published to generate support for the American Revolution in the months preceding and throughout the American Revolutionary War. The primary theme of the papers is the injustice of England exercising absolute power over the colonists. Unlike many American philosophers and intellectual leaders of the time, Paine wrote to the common citizens and not just the wealthy elite.

In the years leading up to the Revolutionary War, contempt for England enacting high tariffs and taxes against its American colonists while disallowing them any sort of voice in parliament began to spread. The colonists struggled, however, with organization. In "The American Crisis" collection, Paine explores the necessity of forming a military in order to take a stand against rising English aggression. Paine argues that a successful rebellion against tyranny requires force, and that a united force against oppressors cannot be beaten. Paine's suggestion that the right of a sovereign nation to form a military was Constitutionally realized through the "right to bear arms."

Although Paine contributed a great deal in the rallying of colonists and subsequent formation of an army to fight the British, he himself did not have the opportunity to reap the benefits of his efforts. Rather, he was forced to flee to Europe in order to escape charges of libel from the British government for this writings, including "The American Crisis." There, he was, ironically, caught up in France's revolution and imprisoned there until 1794.