American Literature: No Paine, No Gaine

So the revolution was pushed along by… pamphlets? Sure, what the heck, let’s go with it.

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Transcript

00:37

I'm vol 1 of the American crisis pamphlet series written by Thomas Paine [American crisis pamphlet]

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Paine was a political activist who wanted to get rid of England like it was

00:46

a malignant melanoma he was one of those guys who was wavering about whether or [Thomas with britain shaped melanoma on his hand]

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not war should be you know done it was a good idea or not he felt that the

00:55

decision to engage in all-out war with Britain was just common sense he even

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wrote a pamphlet about it called a cleverly titled common sense yes, sorry if

01:03

that title came out of left field well common sense is Paine's most famous work

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and we suggest you give it a read some time but today we're going to focus on

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moi... American crisis so what is this other pamphlet Paine wrote and why did he

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write it why on earth are we studying it well he'd already done his part to [Paine perusading America to go to war newspaper cover]

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persuade America to go to war with the Brits, so mission accomplished right well

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sorta but Paine's goal wasn't just to get Americans to fight the British it was

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get the Americans to win so even after shots were fired Paine felt like he still

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had a load of work to do he knew that warring colonists most of whom were

01:39

farmers were probably pooping their knickers in fear these weren't lifelong [Farmer scared to go to war]

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military men they had inferior weaponry in training but some of them still slept

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with stuffed animals..So Paine wanted to be a calming voice amid the first

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wave of panic he wrote me along with 12 other volumes to lift the spirits of [American Crisis pamphlet talking]

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American soldiers and encourage them to push forward make them feel like they

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could and would win this thing despite the massive odds against them and you

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know he'd give him something to read on the toilet and man did it work well Paine

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was accompanying George Washington and his army as they trudged across cold [Paine and Washington walking in the snow with an army]

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snowy New Jersey, these guys were downtrodden mentally in bad shape

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physically and not feeling you know super positive about their chances...

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many Washington's men had already been killed in battle and those who survived

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knew that many more would soon join their fallen friends.. they were sick of

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the death sick of the bloodshed sick of their underwear freezing through their [Soldier with freezing underwear]

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backsides well on Christmas Eve 1776 the gang rode across the Delaware River in

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preparation of launching a surprise attack against a sleeping enemy ok maybe

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not particularly sporting to do a surprise attack but you know war is hell

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well the men were filled with dread Washington could see it in their eyes he

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knew that if they marched into formal mono-a-mono Battle in their current

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mental state bad things were going to happen so he asked Paine to read from his

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new pamphlet American crisis well by the time Paine finished his speech

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the militia man were pumped and ready to rumble like the greatest halftime [Colonist men celebrating ready for battle]

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locker room pep talk of them all....So what exactly was it Paine said in the pamphlet

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and why did it affect Washington's men so profoundly, only one way to find

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out let's take a good long look at me and break down everything I have to say

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let's do it in the form of a dialectical journal, a dialectical journal is a

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format for note keeping but allows you to organize a neat and tidy easy-to-read

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record of your thoughts on a piece of writing see that's where you're going [Example of a dialectical journal]

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with that that's what you're learning here it's not the same as personal

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journal you might cave I don't need to know your innermost thoughts and desires

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trust me I don't want to know them so yeah there's no reason to divulge who's

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dating Trevor this week a dialectical journal consists of three columns

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on the left like you write down any interesting or important [Quotes title on left column]

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quotes that jump out at you in the middle you write the page or paragraph

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number and then there on the right you jot down any analyses, impressions or

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opinions you form about the quote or portion of the passage you transcribed

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on the left side don't worry there will still be margins there for you to doodle in

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Although make sure your teacher is pro doodle before you start scribbling [Teacher telling off boy for doodling]

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okay back to me and all the brilliant inspiring things I have to say, here's the

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template for our journal now let's peruse crisis one and see which quote

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strike us as especially important you know how when you're writing an essay

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your teacher always tells you to make sure you start with a grabby opening [Paine swinging on a wrecking ball]

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something that will snag your audience's attention and make them thirsty for more

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well Paine was a pro at this move in fact by the time he finished reading the

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first couple of lines many of his listeners were already beginning to feel

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their adrenaline pumping so let's write this one down in left column these

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are the times that try men's souls the summer soldier and the sunshine patriot

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will in this crisis shrink from the service of his country but he that [Quote from American Crisis pamphet in quote column]

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stands it now deserves the love and thanks of man and woman... in the middle

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column we write the paragraph number in this case 1 and in the column on the

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right we note our reactions to the text so what would be your reaction if you

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were sitting on silly hillside icicles forming on your eyebrows teeth

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chattering and someone spoke to you these words these are the times that try

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men's souls yeah pretty famous line and with it pain is connecting right away [First sentence highlighted]

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with the men's plight he's saying look I know this is hard our hearts and souls

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are in the toilet right now but this is a test we're being challenged to hold [Paine giving a speech to soldiers]

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our heads up high and fight even when the night is darkest yep in just eight

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words he's told the men he knows how they feel and that it's time to rise to

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the challenge so in the right column of our journal we can write something like

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Paine quickly connects with his audience by acknowledging their hardships and [Impressions of Paine's first sentence in analyses column]

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downcast attitude but at the same time he encourages them to look at the task

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before them as an opportunity to prove their worth there you go perfect

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alright moving on what's another goodie ...Here's another one in the first

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paragraph what we obtain too cheap we esteem too lightly it is dearness only

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that gives everything its value so what we obtain too cheap ie if we get

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something that comes to us too easily we esteem too lightly or [Man carrying guitar to a woman sitting at a desk]

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it won't make us feel all that great it's dearness that gives everything its

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value in other words the more passionately we want and fight for

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something the more it's worth fighting for Paine knew exactly what the men

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needed to hear with all the nasty weather and physical ailments they'd [Paine standing with soldiers by a campfire]

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lost sight of what they were doing and why they were doing it this war would

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earn them their freedom seize power from an oppressive regime, provide a better

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life for their loved ones and so on well nobody said it would be easy in fact

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Washington probably told them straight up they better get their life insurance [Soldiers standing in a boat and water leaks in]

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paperwork in order but if freedom and liberty weren't ideals worth risking

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one's life for well none of the militia men would even be there... Paine

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reminded them of how heroic they were for even attempting this mission it was

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on the same page with Patrick Henry with whole give me liberty or give me death

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but I'd prefer Liberty business all right how about this one in the third

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paragraph - God Almighty will not give up a people to military destruction or

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leave them unsupportedly to perish who have so earnestly and so repeatedly

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sought to avoid the calamities of war by every decent method which wisdom could

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invent when trying to cheer someone up it's never a bad idea to mention that

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God things to their the cat's pajamas and totally has their back but what does [God cheering for colonists with a big foam finger]

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all that other stuff mean well Paine is talking about how hard the colonists

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tried to settle matters with England by diplomatic means ie by trying to reason

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with them and present nonviolent solutions before the question of war

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ever arose, he's telling him that because they made such good faith effort to

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avoid all the horrors of war God certainly wouldn't abandon them in their

08:01

time of need his men are morally right and thus have extra bullets, that God will

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be right there with them all the following day helping them to kill all [Colonists entering a house]

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those soldiers in their sleep because you know that's right God plays sides as

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a God fearing bunch Paine's Words were choir music for the men's ears to think

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that the good Lord him or herself wanted them to win even not having them wage

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war with the British was part of his master plan was a huge load off their

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mind how can you lose with God on your side if you've ever seen a post football

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game sideline interview you know we're [Man interviewing football player]

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talking about all right well here's a doozy from the sixth paragraph Voltaire

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has remarked that King William never appeared to full advantage but in

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difficulties and in action the same remark may be made on General Washington [Paragraph from American Crisis appears]

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for the character fits him...We can tell by the way that Paine refers to this

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King William he was a person to be admired never appeared a full advantage

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but in difficulties and in action and in other words when there were tough times

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or you know when action was required the King was at his best and then he goes on [King William rides by]

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to compare King William to George Washington for whom the character fits

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him so why is he going on on about the general how does that help the other men

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shouldn't he be buttering them up well yeah he's already checked that box here

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he's making the men feel as if they're in capable hands if you were in their [Person ticks off a checklist]

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shoes wouldn't you feel safer if you had a general leading the way who thrived on

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difficult situations, who excelled at navigating his army through dangerous

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waters and all that yeah so once again Paine is doing all he can do to resurrect [Paine resurrecting a spirit]

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the men's spirit they've already got God on their side and now Washington rock

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star general is going to see them through their safety as well those two [Washington playing air guitar]

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are killer team captains... okay we are well on our way to understanding just how

09:45

powerfully Paine's words affected Washington's army your turn look over

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the rest of the paragraphs and see which other quotes demonstrate Paine's artistry

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with the English language and plug them into your journal don't forget the [Arrow points to paragraph numbers column]

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paragraph numbers and jot down your thoughts and ask yourself these

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questions how might this line have encouraged or motivated the men? How did

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Paine's particular phrasing or word choice drive the point home? Is the essence of

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this line repeated elsewhere in the pamphlet? Would Paine's message have been

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any less effective if this line had not made the cut...Well as you read

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onward and keep on journaling think about why this pamphlet was so important [Pamphlet asking why it was so important]

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other than the fact that the men could use it to you know keep their cheeks

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warm.. It was written for a bunch of guys who were long dead whether or

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not they died in that sneak attack at Trenton so what do we care well if you

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believe that Paine's words gave the troops the boost they needed to emerge [Troops firing rifles]

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victoriously from battle then we might be able to blame our entire country's

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independence on just a few little pages of text...

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Also this thing is practically a master class when it comes to improving

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someone's mood want to make your sister feel better about face-planting at her [Sister face plants on stage]

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ballet recital yeah want to make your friend feel better about being picked

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last for dodgeball....Want to make your dog feel better about the fact

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that you didn't share your rawhide bone with him because you're kind of fat [Man with a rawhide bone]

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shaming him and that's just evil yeah well might helps take few tips from the

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master, he can make you feel so much better about things that there will be

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no need to crisis over spilt milk....