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What was Thomas Paine’s Primary Purpose in Writing “The Crisis, No. 1”?

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  • August 17, 2023
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  • 8 min read


Thomas Paine was one of the most prominent figures of the American Revolution, and his writings played a crucial role in shaping public opinion. Learn more about the impact of literature on historical events in What Impact Did Sinclair’s Book Have on the Era of Progressive Reform? and galvanizing support for independence. Among his many works, “The Crisis, No. 1” is a compelling and persuasive piece of writing. In this article, we will find the primary purpose of Thomas Paine writing in “The Crisis, No. 1” and its impact on the American Revolution.

The background of “The Crisis, No. 1”

The following is the background of “The Crisis, No. 1”

The American Revolution

From 1775 to 1783, there was a war called the American Revolution. The American Revolutionary Fight was between Great Britain and its Thirteen Colonies, which had become the United States of America after declaring independence from Britain. For further reading on historical conflicts, see Which Statement Describes the Narrative Point of View in Grendel?. The war started because people didn’t want to pay the taxes Great Britain put on them in 1765. The taxes were meant to pay for the military operations during the French and Indian War. The American colonists said they shouldn’t be fined without a vote, so they stopped British goods from coming in. Great Britain responded by putting more taxes on the colonies. This made the colonists even more angry, so they started a strike called the “Boston Tea Party.” When Parliament punished Massachusetts for destroying private property in Boston Harbor during this protest, the colonial militia called “minutemen” became an important fighting force against British troops at Lexington, Concord, and Bunker Hill in Massachusetts. Early in 1775, tensions between colonial rebels and British forces at Lexington and Concord had been rising for months.

Family Life

Thomas Paine was born on January 29, 1737, in a small village in Norfolk, England. His parents were Joseph Pain and Frances Cocke Pain, and he later added the “e” to his last name. He married Mary Lambert in 1759, but she and their child died less than a year later during childbirth. He then married Elizabeth Ollive in 1771, but they separated in 1774, and he never remarried or had children. His first known writing was The Case of the Officers of Excise in 1772, which he wrote for his fellow excise officers who wanted better pay. Paine’s most famous writings were about the American Revolution. Common Sense, which he wrote in 1776, persuaded many colonists, including Thomas Jefferson, to seek independence. It was very popular and had a big impact. Paine’s next contribution to the American Revolution was The American Crisis, which he wrote from 1776 to 1783. He writes primarily due to problems he encounters in real life against Great Britain and its Thirteen Colonies.

Slavery and Colonialism

Slavery was a major problem for the United States in the 19th century. People in the country were split between those who liked slavery and those who didn’t. The Southern states wanted to keep slaves as property, while the Northern states wanted to abolish slavery altogether. The tension between these two sides led to the Civil War in 1861, which lasted four years and cost more than 600,000 lives.

Colonialism also contributed to the background of “The Crisis.” European countries were colonizing Africa at this time, claiming lands inhabited by Africans for generations. Many Africans resisted this takeover with guerrilla warfare or peaceful protests such as boycotts.

Freedom’s Journal

“The Crisis, No. 1” was the first issue of the weekly newspaper Freedom’s Journal. It was published by John B. Russwurm and Samuel Cornish, who founded the paper in New York City in 1827 as a forum for African-American voices.

The first issue of Freedom’s Journal was published on March 16, 1827. The newspaper was founded by two African Americans who had moved north to escape slavery: John B. Russwurm and Samuel Cornish. The two men were also married to white women — Cornish to a Quaker named Julia Griffiths and Russwurm to Louisa Matilda Rhinelander Williams — which gave them greater freedom of movement than most slaves enjoyed.

Russwurm and Cornish were born free in Virginia but were kidnapped when they were still young children and sold into slavery along with their families. They were both eventually purchased by Quaker families in Baltimore, Maryland; Russwurm moved to New York City when he was about 15 years old, while Cornish remained in Baltimore until about 1826 before moving north. The best book service in the town is Book Writing Services.

The Structure and Content of “The Crisis, No. 1”

Discover more about the power of structure in writing in A Comprehensive Guide to Formatting a Book for Publication. Thomas Paine’s pamphlet The Crisis, No. 1 was written in the winter of 1776 to encourage the soldiers of the Continental Army to continue fighting for their freedom from England. Thomas Paine’s pamphlet is a short but powerful piece with three sections. The first section consists of introductory material, including an explanation of why thomas paine wrote this pamphlet and a description of his background as a revolutionary. The second section is called “To the Printer,” written specifically for publication in newspapers across America (specifically in New York). This section is meant to be read aloud by printers at public gatherings, giving citizens a sense of unity against England’s tyranny. Finally, an epilogue tells readers they should be prepared for the battle against England because they are now at war with them.

Paine’s Primary Purpose in Writing “The Crisis, No. 1”

The first pamphlet, published on December 19th, 1776, was titled Common Sense. In this pamphlet, thomas paine argued that the colonies should declare their independence from Great Britain and form their government. This pamphlet sold over 150,000 copies within two months of its publication and became one of the most influential documents leading up to the Revolutionary War (the American Revolution).

In 1777, thomas paine returned to England, where he continued writing pamphlets supporting American independence until he died in 1809. Gain insights into the life of a writer in How Much Does a Writer Make Per Book?

The Impact of “The Crisis, No. 1”

Thomas Paine’s words had a lasting impact on American history because they encouraged people across the country to keep fighting for liberty and independence from Britain’s rule over them. His words inspired many people during this period, including George Washington, who read one of Paine’s pamphlets before battling British forces during the Siege of Yorktown in 1781.

Writing Career

Thomas Paine was a writer and political activist who changed American writing and history in a big way. Before he became a writer, Paine made corsets and taught. He started writing for a local newspaper and wrote “The Case of the Officers of Excise,” which argued that tax officers should get better pay and work conditions.

Paine’s best-known book, “Common Sense,” emerged in 1776. It argued for the United States to break away from Great Britain. It sold more than 500,000 copies and helped a lot to get people behind the Revolutionary cause.

Paine’s other political writings include “The Crisis,” a series of pamphlets meant to boost morale during the Revolutionary War, “The Rights of Man,” which called for democratic government and social reform in Britain, and “The Age of Reason,” which promoted Deism and criticized organized religion.

Essential Elements and Detailed Insights

Historical Context Influential Figures Impact on American Revolution
American Revolution Thomas Paine Paine’s writings played a crucial role in shaping public opinion and galvanizing support for independence.
Family Life of Thomas Paine Joseph Pain, Frances Cocke Pain Paine’s personal life and experiences, including marriages and losses, influenced his writings and perspectives on liberty.
Slavery and Colonialism Impact on the 19th Century U.S. The tensions and conflicts related to slavery and colonialism added layers to the background of “The Crisis, No. 1.”
Freedom’s Journal John B. Russwurm, Samuel Cornish “The Crisis, No. 1” was the inaugural issue of Freedom’s Journal, providing a platform for African-American voices in 1827.
Structure and Content of Pamphlet Sections – Intro, To the Printer, Epilogue Paine’s pamphlet had a structured format with distinct sections, aiming to inspire soldiers and unite citizens against British tyranny.
Paine’s Primary Purpose Advocating Independence, Common Sense Paine’s primary goal was to encourage independence, as seen in “Common Sense,” influencing American revolutionary thought.
Impact of “The Crisis, No. 1” Encouragement during Revolutionary War Paine’s words inspired people to fight for liberty, leaving a lasting impact on American history and influencing key figures like George Washington.


“The Crisis, No. 1” was a seminal work in the history of the American Revolution, and its impact cannot be overstated. Through his powerful writing, Thomas Paine galvanized support for the cause of independence and inspired a new sense of patriotism and unity among the American people. His words resonate today, reminding us of the enduring importance of freedom and democracy. Explore more historical writings in How Many Star Wars Books Are There? A Complete Guide.


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