“These are the times that try men’s souls.”

Thomas Paine wrote this in December 1776, the beginning of his essay entitled The American Crisis.  Paine was embedded with Washington’s troops, and his analysis of their demoralized state of affairs in late 1776 continued:

“The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.  Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.”

George Washington, encamped with his troops at Valley Forge, ordered his commanders to read this essay to the troops on December 24th, the night before they launched a surprise offensive against the British and won the Battle of Trenton, which proved to be a crucial psychological victory for the Americans early in this struggle.

Paine had already established a name for himself earlier in 1776 with the publication of his Common Sense pamphlet, which clearly explained the reasons Americans should seek independence from the British in the American Revolution.  He continued his writing with The Rights of Man during the French Revolution.