CLIO mr brice - page 18

Paine, an Englishman born to a Quaker father and
Anglican mother, experienced a rather depressing early
life, supposedly marked with a sequence of ‘repeated
failures’ as noted in his biography. Luckily, in the spring
of 1774, his outlook on life brightened after meeting
with Benjamin Franklin who advised him to emigrate
to America after reading his many political pamphlets.
Upon his arrival in Philadelphia, his propagandist ideas
regarding issues such as the African slave were incredibly
pertinent amongst the colonists, vitally at the height of
their drive for independence from England. His most
famous work occurred after the battles of Lexington
and Concord (1775) - the first military occurrences of
the Revolutionary War - where he described American
independence from Great Britain as a necessity,
highlighted in a 50-page pamphlet called ‘Common
Sense’. As the war ensued, Paine contributed to the
patriotic cause by inspiring troops with his 16 ‘Crisis’
papers (1776-1783). ‘The American Crisis’ was the first
to be published and was subsequently read aloud to the
soldiers in order to boost morale and spur the patriots
to victory.
This historical pamphlet is where this great quote lies.
He is quite clearly stating that the harder one works
for their rights and freedom, the more liberated they’ll
feel. However, is this always true? Some may argue
that any victory is a victory, regardless of the battle
you endure to achieve it. In one sense Paine appears
to be encouraging militant, so called ‘harder’ conflict
which subsequently undermines the pacifist methods of
negotiation and protest, which have proven themselves
to be very efficient in times of hardship. This quote
further raises the question of what triumph entails; do
we feel more glorious if we triumph over a physical or
metaphorical barrier? Though it may not be clear to
us, the struggle we endure will always be the root of
our happiness; therefore it is fair to say that the more
effort we put in, the better result we get out of it. This
idea is present in most aspects of life - compare it to
Newton’s Third Law where ‘every action has an equal
and opposite reaction’. Thomas Paine was far from a
physicist but his philosophy behind conflict does appear
to be true. While I personally disagree with his use of
‘harder’ as it has connotations of militant war, Paine had
a most impressible outlook on conflict, an outlook that
ultimately manifested itself into the American spirit and
helped them achieve their rightful independence.
“The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph”
-Thomas Paine
By Ellena Dracou
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