Copyright
Thomas Paine.

The political and miscellaneous works of Thomas Paine .. (Volume 1) online

. (page 20 of 65)
Online LibraryThomas PaineThe political and miscellaneous works of Thomas Paine .. (Volume 1) → online text (page 20 of 65)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


remedy be left for the other, ideas, far different to the pre-
sent, will arise, and embitter the remembrance of former fol-
lies. A mind disarmed of its rage, feels no pleasure in con-
templating a frantic quarrel. Sickness of thought, the sure
consequence of conduct like yours, leaves no ability for en-
joyment, no relish for resentment; and though, like a man
in a fit, you feel not the injury of the struggle, nor dis-
tinguish between strength and disease, the weakness will,



AMERICAN CRISIS. 115

nevertheless, be proportioned to the violence, and the sense
of pain, increase with the recovery.

To what persons, or to whose system of politics you owe
your present state of wretchedness^ is a matter of total in-
difference to America. They have contributed, however
unwillingly, to set her above themselves ; and she, in the
tranquillity of conquest, resigns the enquiry. The case now,
is not so properly, who began the war, as who continues it.
That there are men in all countries to whom a state of war
is a mine of wealth, is a fact never to be doubted. Charac-
ters like these, naturally breed in the putrefaction of dis-
tempered times, and after fattening on the disease, they
perish with it, or, impregnated with the stench, retreat into
obscurity.

But there are several erroneous notions, to which you
likewise owe a share of your misfortunes, and which, if
continued, will only increase your trouble and your losses.
An opinion hangs about the gentlemen of the Minority,
that America would relish measures under THEIR ad-
ministration, which she would not from the present cabinet.
On this rock Lord Chatham would have split had he gained
.the helm, and several of his survivors are steering the same
course. Such distinctions, in the infancy of the argument,
had some degree of foundation : but they now serve no
other purpose than to lengthen out a war, in which the limits
of the dispute, being fixed by the fate of arms, and guaran-
teed by treaties, are not to be changed, or altered by trivial
circumstances.

The Ministry and many of the Minority sacrifice their
time in disputing on a question, with which they have
nothing to do, namely, whether America shall be indepen-
dent or not ? Whereas, the only question that can come
under their determination, is, whether they will accede to
it or not? They confound a military question with a poli-
tical one, and undertake to supply by a vote, what they lost
by a battle. Say, she shall not be independent, and it will
signify as much, as if they voted against a decree of fate ; or
say that she shall, and she will be no more independent than
before. Questions, which when determined, cannot be
executed, serve only to shew the folly of dispute, and the
weakness of the disputants.

From a long habit of calling America your own, you
suppose her governed by the same prejudices and conceits
which govern yourselves. Because yoibhave set up a par-
ticular denomination of religion to the exclusion of all



116 AMERICAN CRISIS.

others, you imagine she must do the same ; and, because
you, with an unsociable narrowness of mind, have cherished
against France and Spain, you suppose her alliance must
be defective in friendship. Copying her notions of the
world from you, she formerly thought as you instructed,
but now feeling herself free, and the prejudice removed, she
thinks, and acts upon a different system. It frequently
happens, that in proportion as we are taught to dislike
persons and countries riot knowing why, we feel an ardour
of esteem upon a removal of the mistake. It seems as if
something was to be made amends for, and we eagerly
give in to every office of friendship, to atone for the injury
of the error.

But, perhaps, there is something in the extent of coun-
tries, which, among the generality of people, insensibly com-
municates extension of the mind. The soul of an islander,
in its native state, seems bounded by the foggy confines of
the water's edge, and all beyond, affords to him matters
only for profit or curiosity not for friendship. His island
is to him, his world, and, fixed to that, his every thing
centers in it ; while those, who are inhabitants of a conti-
nent, by casting their eye over a larger field, take in, like-
wise, a larger intellectual circuit, and thus approaching
nearer to an acquaintance with the universe, their atmos-
phere of thought is extended, and their liberality fills a
wider space. In short, our minds seem to be measured by
countries when we are men, as they are by places, when we
are children ; and until something happens to disentangle us
from the prejudice, we serve under it without perceiving it.

In addition to this, it may be remarked, that men who
study any universal science, the principles of which are
universally known or admitted, and applied, without dis-
tinction, to the common benefit of all countries, obtain
thereby, a larger share of philanthropy than those who only
study national arts and improvements. Natural philosophy,
mathematics, and astronomy, carry the mind from the coun-
try to the creation, and give it a fitness suited to the extent*
It was not Newton's honour, neither could it be his pride,
that he was an Englishman, but that he was a philosopher.
The Heavens had liberated him from the prejudices of an
island, and science had expanded his soul as boundless a*
his studies.

COMMON SENSE,



THE

AMERICAN CRISIS.

No. IX.



Philadelphia, June 9, 1780.

HAD America pursued her advantages with half the spirit
she resisted her misfortunes, she would, before now, have
been a conquering and a peaceful people ; but lulled in the
lap of soft tranquillity, she rested on her hopes, and adversity
only has convulsed her into action. Whether subtlety or
sincerity, at the close of the last year, induced the enemy to
an appearance for peace, is a point not material to know; it
is sufficient that we see the effects it has had on our politics,
and that we sternly rise to resent the delusion.

The war, on the part of America, has been a war of natu-
ral feelings. Brave in distress ; serene in conquest; drowsy
while at rest ; and in every situation generously disposed to
peace. A dangerous calm, and a most heightened zeal,
have, as circumstances varied, succeeded each other. Every
passion, but that of despair, has been called to a tour of
duty ; and so mistaken has been the enemy, of our abilities
and disposition, that when she supposed us conquered, we
rose the conquerors. The extensiveness of the United States,
and the variety of their resources ; the universality of their
cause, the quick operation of their feelings, and the simi-
larity of their sentiments, have, in every trying situation,
produced a something, which, favoured by Providence, and
pursued with ardour, has accomplished in an instant, the
business of a campaign. We have never deliberately sought
victory, but snatched it; and bravely undone in an hour,
the plotted operations of a season.



118 AMERICAN CRISIS.

The reported fate of Charlestown, like the misfortunes of
seventy-six, has, at last, called forth a spirit, and kindled up
a flame, which, perhaps, no other event could have produced.
If the enemy has circulated a falsehood, they have unwisely
aggravated us into life; and if they have told us a truth,
they have unintentionally done us a service. We were re-
turning with folded arms, from the fatigues of war, and
thinking and sitting leisurely down to enjoy repose. The
dependence that has been put upon Charlestown, threw a
drowsiness over America. We looked on the business done
The conflict over- -the matter settled or that all which
remained unfinished, would follow of itself. In this state of
dangerous relax, exposed to the poisonous infusions of the
enemy, and having no common danger to attract our atten-
tion, we were extinguishing, by stages, the ardour we began
with, and surrendering by piece-meals the virtue that de-
fended us.

Afflicting as the loss of Charlestown may be, yet, if it
universally rouse us from the slumber of a twelvemonth
past, and renew in us the spirit of former days, it will pro-
duce an advantage more important than its loss. America
ever is what she thinks herself to be. Governed by senti-
ment, and acting her own mind, she becomes, as she pleases,
the victor or the victim.

It is not the conquest of towns, nor the accidental capture
of garrisons, that can reduce a country so extensive as this.
The sufferings of one part can ever be relieved by the exer-
tions of another, and there is no situation the enemy can be
in, that does not afford to us the same advantages she seeks
herself. By dividing her force, she leaves every post attack-
able. It is a mode of war that carries with it a confession
of weakness, and goes on the principle o'f distress, rather
than conquest.

The decline of the enemy is visible, not only in their ope-
rations, but in their plans. Charlestown originally made
but a secondary object in the system of attack, and it is now
become their principal one, because they have not been able
to succeed elsewhere. It would have carried a cowardly ap-
pearance in Europe, had they formed their grand expedition
in seventy-six, against a part of the Continent, where there
was no army, or not a sufficient one to oppose them ; but
failing, year after year, in their impressions here, and to the
eastward and northward, they deserted their first capital de-
sign, and prudently contenting themselves with what they
can get, give a flourish of honour to conceal disgrace.



AMERICAN CRISIS. 119

But this piecemeal work is not conquering the Continent.
It is a discredit in them to attempt it, and in us to suffer it
It is now full time to put an end to a war of aggravations,
which, on one side, has no possible object, and on the other,
has every inducement which honour, interest, safety, and
happiness can inspire. If we suffer them much longer to
remain among us, we shall become as bad as themselves.
An association of vices will reduce us more than the sword.
A nation hardened in the practice of iniquity knows better
how to profit by it, than a young country newly corrupted.
We are not a match for them in the line of advantageous
guilt, nor they to us on the principles we bravely set out
with. Our first days were our days of honour, They
have marked the character of America, wherever the story
of her wars are told; and convinced of this, we have no-
thing to do, but wisely and unitedly to tread the well-known
track.

The progress of war is often as ruinous to individuals, as
the issue of it is to a nation; and it is not only necessary
that our forces be such, that we be conquerors in the end,
but that by timely exertions we be secure in the interim.
The present campaign will afford an opportunity which has
never presented itself before, and the preparations for it are
equally necessary, whether Charlestown stand or fall. Sup-
pose the first, it is in that case only a failure of the enemy,
not a defeat. Ail the conquest a besieged town can hope
for, is, not to be conquered; and compelling an enemy to
raise the siege, is to the besieged a victory. But there must
be a probability, amounting almost to certainty, that would
justify a garrison marching out to attack a retreat. There-
fore, should Charlestown not be taken, and the enemy
abandon the sie^e, every other part of the Continent should
prepare to meet them ; and, on the contrary, should it be
taken, the same preparations are necessary to balance the
loss, and put ourselves in a condition to co-operate with our
allies, immediately on their arrival.

We are not now fighting our battles alone, as we were in
seventy-six. England, from a malicious disposition to
America, has not only not declared war against France and
Spain, but the better to prosecute her passions here, has
afforded those two powers no military object, and avoids
them, to distress us. She will suffer her West India islands
to be over-run by France, and her southern settlements
taken by Spain, rather than quit the object that gratifies
revenge. This conduct, on the part of Britain, has pointed



AMERICAN CRTSIS,

out the propriety of France sending a naval and land force
to co-operate with America on the spot. Their arrival
cannot be very distant, nor the ravages of the enemy long.
In the meantime the part necessary to us needs no illustra-
tion. The recruiting the army, and procuring the supplies,
are the two things needful, and a capture of either of the
enemy's divisions will restore to America peace and plenty,

At a crisis, big, like the present, with expectation and
events, the whole country is called to unanimity and exer-
tion. Not an ability ought now to sleep, that can produce
but a mite to the general good, nor even a whisper to pass
that militates against it. The necessity of the case, and the
importance of the consequences, admit no delay from a
friend, no apology from an enemy. To spare now, would
be the height of extravagance, and to consult present ease,
would be to sacrifice it, perhaps, for ever.

America, rich in patriotism and produce, can want neither
men nor supplies, when a serious necessity call them forth.
The slow operation of taxes, owing to the extensiveness of
collection, and their depreciated value before they arrived
in the treasury, have, in many instances, thrown a burthen-
upon Government, which has been artfully interpreted by
the enemy into a general decline throughout the country,
Yet this, inconvenient as it may at first appear, is not only
remediable, but may be turned to an immediate advantage;
for it makes no real difference, whether a certain number of
men, or company of militia (and in this country every man
is a militia manj are directed by law to send a recruit at
their own expence, or whether a tax is laid on them for that
purpose, and the man hired by government afterwards.
The first, if there is any difference, is both cheapest and
best, because it saves the expence which would attend col-
lecting it as a tax, and brings the man sooner into the field,
than the modes of recruiting formerly used. And on this
principle, a law has been passed in this State, for recruiting
two men from each company of militia, which will add up-
wards of a thousand to the force of the country.

But the flame, which has broke forth in this city since the
report from New York, of the loss of Charlestown, not
only does honour to the place, but like the blaze of seventy-
six, will kindle into action the scattered sparks throughout
America. The valour of a country may be learned by the
bravery of its soldiery, and the general cast of its inhabi-
tants; but confidence of success is best discovered by the
active measures pursued by men of property; ancl when



AMERICAN CRISIS. 121

the spirit of enterprise becomes so universal as to act at
once on all ranks of men, a war may then, and not till then,
be styled truly popular.

In seventy-six the ardour of the enterprising part was
considerably checked, by the real revolt of some, and the
coolness of others. But, in the present case, there is a
firmness in the substance and property of the country to the
public cause. An association has been entered into by the
merchants, tradesmen, and the principal inhabitants of this
city, to receive and support -the new State money at the
value of gold and silver; a measure, which, while it does
them honour, will likewise contribute to their interest, by
rendering the operations of the campaign convenient and
effectual.

Neither has the spirit of exertion stopped here. A volun-
tary subscription is likewise began, to raise a fund of hard
money to be given as bounties to fill up the full quota of the
Pennsylvania line. It has been the remark of the enemy,
that every thing in America has been done by the force of
Government; but when she sees individuals throwing in
their voluntary aids, and facilitating the public measures in
concert with the established powers of the country, it will
convince her that the cause of America stands not on the
will of a few, but on the broad foundation of property and
popularity.

Thus aided, and thus supported, disaffection will decline,
and the withered head of tyranny expire in America. The
ravages of the enemy will be short and limited, and like all
their former ones, will produce a victory over themselves.

COMMON SENSE.



%^ At the time of writing this number of the Crisis, the
loss of Charlestown, though believed by some, was more
confidently disbelieved by others. But there ought to be no
longer a doubt on the matter. Charlestown is gone, and, I
believe, for the want of a sufficient supply of provisions.
The man that does not now feel for the honour of the best
and noblest cause that ever a country engaged in, and exert
himself accordingly, is no longer worthy a peaceful resi-
dence among a people determined to be free.



THE

CRISIS EXTRAORDINARY.

f & t

ON THE SUBJECT OF TAXATION.



Philadelphia, October 6, 1780.

IT is impossible to sit down and think seriously on the
affairs of America, but the original principles on which she
resisted, and the glow and ardour they inspired, will occur
like the undefaeed remembrance of a lovely scene. To
trace over in imagination the purity of the cause, the volun-
tary sacrifices made to support it, and all the various turn-
ings of the war in its defence, is at once both paying and
receiving respect. The principles deserve to be remem-
bered, and to remember them rightly, is repossessing them.
In this indulgence of generous recollection,, we become
gainers by what we seem to give, and the more we bestow
the richer we become.

So extensively right was the ground on which America
proceeded, that it not only took in every just and liberal
sentiment which could impress the heart, but made it the
direct interest of every class and order of men to defend
the country. The war, on the part of Britain, was origi-
nally a war of covetuousness. The sordid, and not the
splendid passions, gave it being. The fertile fields, and
prosperous infancy of America, appeared to her as mines
for tributary wealth. She viewed the hive, and disregard-
ing the industry that had enriched it, thirsted for the honey.
But in the present stage of her affairs, the violence of tem-
per is added to the rage of avarice; and therefore, that,
which at the first setting out proceeded from purity of prin-
ciple and public interest, is now heightened by all the obli-
gations of necessity ; for it requires but little knowledge of



AMERICAN CRISIS.

human nature, to discern what would be the consequence,
were America again reduced to the subjection of Britain.
Uncontrolled power, in the hands of an incensed, imperious,
and rapacious conqueror, is an engine of dreadful execution,
and woe be to that country over which it can be exercised.
The names of Whig and Tory would then be sunk in the
general term of rebel, and the oppression, whatever it might
be, would, with very few instances of exception, light
equally on all.

Britain did not go to war with America for the sake of
dominion, because she was .then in possession ; neither was
it for the extension of trade and commerce, because she ha(J
monopolized the whole, and the country had yielded to it :
neither was it to extinguish what she might call rebellion,
because, before she began, no resistance existed. It could
then be from no other motive than avarice, or a design of
establishing, in the first instance, the same taxes in America
as are paid in England (which, as I shall presently shew,
are above a eleven times heavier than the taxes we now pay
for the present year, 1780), or in the second instance, to
confiscate the whole property of America, in case of re-
sistance and conquest of the latter, of which she had then
no doubt.

I shall now proceed to shew what the taxes in England
are, and what the yearly expence of the present war is to
her, what the taxes of this country amount to, and what
the annual expence of defending it effectually will be to
us ; and shall endeavour concisely to point out the cause of
our difficulties, and the advantages on one side, and the
consequences on the other, in case we do, or do not put
ourselves in an effectual state of defence. I mean to be
open, candid, and sincere. 1 see an universal wish to expel
the enemy from the country, a murmuring because the war
is not carried on with more vigour, and my intention is to
shew, as shortly as possible, both the reason and the re-
medy.

The number of souls in England (exclusive of Scotland
and Ireland) is seven millions,^ and the number of souls in
America is three millions.

The amount of the taxes in England (exclusive of Scot-
laud and Ireland) was, before the present war commenced,



* This is taking the highest number that the people of England
have been, or can be rated at.

12



124 AMERICAN CRISIS.

eleven millions six hundred and forty-two thousand six
hundred and fifty-three pounds sterling, which, on an ave-
rage, is no less a sum than one pound thirteen shillings and
threepence sterling per head, per annum, men, women, and
children; besides country taxes, taxes for the support of the
poor, and a tenth of all the produce of the earth for the
support of the bishops and the clergy.* 5 Nearly five
millions of this sum went annually to pay the interest of
the national debt, contracted by former wars, and the
remaining sum of six millions six hundred and forty -two
thousand six hundred pounds was applied to defray the
yearly expence of Government, the peace establishment of
the army and navy, placemen, and pensioners, &c. conse-
quently the whole of her enormous taxes being thus appro-
priated, she had nothing to spare out of them towards de-
fraying the expences of the present war, or any other. Yet
had she not been in debt at the beginning of the war, as we



* The following is takea from Dr. Price's state of the taxes of
England, pages 9<>, 97, 98.

An account of the money drawn from the public by taxes an-
nually, being the medium of three years before the year 1776.

>',;' >

Amount of customs in England 2,528,275

Amount of the excise in England 4,649,892

Land-tax at 3s 1 ,300,000

Land-tax at I s. in the pound 450,000

Salt duties 21 8,739

Duties on stamps, cards, dice, advertisements, bonds,

leases, newspapers, almanacks, &c 280,788

Duties on houses and windows 385,369

Post office, seizures, wine licences, hackney coaches, &c. 250,000

Annual profits from lotteries 150,000

Expence of collecting the excises in England 297,887

Expence of collecting the customs in England 468,703

Interest of loans on the land-tax at 4s. Expences of

collection, militia, &c 250,000

Perquisites, &c. on custom-house officers, &c. supposed 250,000
Expence of collecting the salt duties in England, 10 \

percent 27,000

Bounties on fish exported. . . . 18,000

Expence of collecting the duties on stamps, cards, ad-
vertisements, &c. at 5| per cent 18,000

Total.. . .11,542,C53



AMERICAN CRISIS, 125

were not, and, like us, had only a laud, and not a naval war
to carry on, her then revenue of eleven millions and a half
pounds sterling would then defray all her annual expences
of war and Government within each year.

But this not beirg the case with her, she is obliged to
borrow about ten millions pounds sterling yearly, to prose-
cute the war she is now engaged in, (this year she borrowed
twelve) and lay on new taxes to discharge the interest : and
allowing that the present war has cost her only fifty millions
sterling, the interest thereon, at five per cent, will be two
millions and a half, therefore the amount of her taxes now
must be fourteen millions, which, on an average, is not less
than forty shillings sterling per head, men, women, and
.children, throughout the nation. Now as this expence of
fifty millions was borrowed on the hopes of conquering
.America, and as it was avarice which first induced her to
commence the war, how truly wretched and deplorable
would the condition of this country be, were she, by her own
remissness, to suffer an enemy of such a disposition, and so
circumstanced, to reduce her to subjection.

I now proceed to the revenues of America.

I have already stated the number of souls in America to
be three millions, and by a calculation I have made, which
I have every reason to believe is sufficiently right, the whole
-expence .of the war and the support of the several Govern-
ments may be defrayed for two million pounds sterling,
annually ; which, on an average, is thirteen shillings and



Online LibraryThomas PaineThe political and miscellaneous works of Thomas Paine .. (Volume 1) → online text (page 20 of 65)