Paine, a master at propaganda, had rallied Americans earlier that year with his pamphlet Common Sense, a clarion call for an independent American nation. But on this day in 1776, something else Paine wrote first appeared in a newspaper: “These are the times that try men’s souls.”
In December 1776, morale was low. The British had captured New York and driven Washington’s Army into exile, and over 11,000 American soldiers had deserted. But Paine’s eloquence fortified and inspired the Patriots.
On Christmas night 1776, Washington and his army re-crossed the Delaware River and won the Battle of Trenton the next morning and another battle at Princeton the following week, breathing new life into the American cause.
These continue to be times that try men’s souls, and Thomas Paine’s words are as inspiring now as when they first appeared during the dark winter of Revolution on December 19, 1776, Today in Georgia History.
Only six mourners attended Paine's funeral in 1809.