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The American Crisis at 235


This December 19th marks the 235thanniversary of Thomas Paine’s American Crisis #1. First published in the Pennsylvania Journal, it brings hope from a dark time during our revolution. Thomas Paine, who eleven months earlier published his sensational work, Common Sense,which helped ignite the rebellion, would once again bring the American people hope. The same hope that American Crisis #1 brought the Patriots can inspire the Occupy movement to withstand this winter.

Thomas Paine brilliantly stated, “These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country, but he that stands now, deserves the love and thanks of men and woman.” In these 41 words, the gravity of the situation leaps from the page and pulls the reader into the momentous task of staying the course. The course of liberty is never an easy one, nor is the duty to fight against tyranny. In late December, 1776, the American Revolution was teetering on the brink of collapse. General Washington, after suffering a serious defeat in New York City and a long retreat through New Jersey, saw his army on the verge of destruction. During these trying times Thomas Paine’s words inspired the Continental Army and the American people to stay the course.

At this very moment, the Occupy movement is at an impasse, after being evicted from many of their camps. However, we too must stay the course. They curse us in the conservative media. They call us socialists, anarchists, un-American and many more labels to stir up fear of those fighting for the livelihood of the American middle class. As Thomas Paine so eloquently stated in American Crisis #1:

“Let them call me rebel, and welcome, I feel no concern from it; but I should suffer the misery of devils, were I to make a whore of my soul by swearing to one, whose character, is that of a sottish, stupid, stubborn, worthless, brutish man.”

Recently, Bill O’Reilly stated that the Occupy movement has officially come to an end. This statement, as premature as a Jersey Tory’s cheerful glee as Washington’s army retreated from the Hudson to the Delaware will not be proven true. As Paine stated: “I thank God, that I fear not. I see no real cause for fear. I know our situation well and can see the way out of it.”

The economic royalists, our modern day Tories, will only be able to do so much to silence us. They use the officers sworn to protect us to disperse us, they use the sheriffs to force us out of our homes, they threaten our social safety net, they cut our education, and push us deeper and deeper in debt. Yet we won’t be silenced. If we allow ourselves to be silenced, we will commit an unforgivable offense to the American character. We, the people must be the ones who take our government back in November 2012, or lose it forever.

Rich Bergen can be reached at: progressmoshuffle @

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