In The American Crisis articles, Thomas Paine wrote of his support for an independent and self-governing America during the trials of the American Revolution in 1776. General George Washington found the first essay of the series so motivating that he actually ordered it be read to all of the troops at Valley Forge.
The American Crisis is the formal name of the papers. There are 13 of them, starting December 23, 1776, and ending April 19, 1783. The papers argue American independence, but begin with theoretical thoughts on government, religion and the colonial framework.
Paine first begins by differentiating government and society. He believed that society was good and constructive because people would join together in order to accomplish things; however, government was an institution. As an institution, Paine believed that the government needed to protect the people from their own immoral behavior. Therefore, the government was a necessary evil and should only exist in order to protect the people. He was one of the first to believe that the government's role was to protect life, liberty and property.
Paine also discussed the different kinds of government such as monarchy and hereditary succession. He believed that this kind of government was inherently evil and used Bible verses to prove it. He also detailed how a king's child would automatically rule even if the child was not fit to be a king.