“These are the times that try men’s souls.”
This extremely rare broadside printing opens with Thomas Paine’s famous overture “These are the times that try men’s souls,” which soon became the catchphrase for the struggle for freedom and liberty throughout the American Revolution. When Washington viewed the first printing of Paine’s American Crisis on December 19, 1776, he immediately ordered it read to his troops before crossing the Delaware River to attack Trenton on Christmas Day. The successful attack reaffirmed Washington’s command, bolstered American morale, spurred reenlistments, and laid the groundwork for another successful attack days later. Boston printer John Gill published this broadside as an extra in his newspaper, the Continental Journal. It is among the few appearances of The American Crisis as a separate text and the only one issued as a broadside intended for public posting.
Thomas Paine (1737–1809). The American Crisis (No. 1), printed as an extra in the Continental Journal, January 17, 1777. Boston: John Gill, 1777.