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The Revolutionary War created the pathway to what we are now. We became independent and it gave us freedom from Britain’s King. The war led us to the new life we wanted without control of outside countries. But without the encouragement of writers to help us in our time of need, things still would not have been that easy. Some of the great writers that influenced others to make history happen would be Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, and Patrick Henry. These men wrote articles that encouraged others to stand up for what they believed in, and they wrote remarkable speeches that helped us become who we are. They had the courage to write their thoughts into writing that inspired many to fight for what they believed in. Without the help of literature within the period of our time, maybe things would’ve gone differently.
The winter of 1776 was a dreadful time for George Washington and his troops. They had little food, inadequate shelter, and many were deserting (Berstein 161). Into this horrible situation came Thomas Paine. In England, he had moved, without success, through several occupations. He then began to write essays supporting America’s fight for independence, shortly after his arrival in 1774. In December of 1776, he started to write a series of articles entitled The Crisis. His words inspired many soldiers to enlist in the army and encouraged them to continue fighting. After the publication of his articles, the first anti-slavery movement, The American Antislavery Society, was found (Katz 1).
His beliefs of universal order, in human perfectibility, and in the power of reason, guided him throughout his life to express himself and persuade others to fight for what they believed in. Yet Paine, a fuzzy historical figure of the 1700s, is remembered mostly for one or two sparkling patriotic quotes – “These are the times that try men’s souls” – and little else (Katz 1). The Crisis gave enough courage to the Americans that when they attacked Britain at Trenton they succeeded. His articles encouraged soldiers to continue fighting Britain and made them realize that the more they want Freedom, the more they’ll have to fight. The victory at the battle of Trenton marked a turning point in the war.
Thomas Jefferson was a powerful advocate of liberty who was born in 1743 in Albermarle County, Virginia. He studied at the College of William and Mary, and then read law. In 1772 he married Martha Wayles Skelton. Freckled and sandy-haired, rather tall and awkward, Jefferson was eloquent as a correspondent, but he was no public speaker. In the Virginia House of Burgesses and the Continental Congress, he contributed his pen rather than his voice to the patriot cause. As the “silent member” of the Congress, Jefferson, at 33, drafted the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson put little that was new into the famous document. On the same day that Independence was declared, Mr. Jefferson was appointed one of a committee of three to devise an appropriate Coat of Arms for the republic of the “United States of America” (Rayner 8).
Part of the declaration ideas had already been much discussed in America. They had previously been popular in England; John Locke had used them in his book ‘On Civil Government’, a defense of the English Revolution of 1688. The Declaration is a statement of the American theory of government. Three basic ideas were involved: (1) God had made all men equal and had given them the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (instead of Locke’s “pursuit of property”); (2) the main business of government was to protect these rights; (3) if a government tried to withhold these rights, the people were free to revolt and to set up a new government. These three ideas formed the groundwork for the state governments that were established after the Declaration was adopted. The declaration came to be on July 4, 1776, when the members of the Continental Congress assembled at the State House in Philadelphia to take up a matter of vital importance.
Two days earlier the Congress had voted to declare the colonies to be “free and independent states.” Now they were considering how to announce that fact to the world. By the end of the day, the final wording had been determined and the Congress voted unanimously to adopt one of history’s greatest documents, which was the Declaration of Independence. The stirring phrases of the Declaration inspired the patriots to defeat the British, thus guaranteeing independence (Rayner 8). Since that time the Declaration has been a source of pride and strength for every generation of Americans.
The American political leader Patrick Henry was one of the most celebrated orators of the American Revolution (Logan 6). He was born on May 29, 1736, in Hanover County, Virginia. Henry failed as both a storekeeper and a farmer before being admitted to the Virginia bar in 1760 (Logan 6). However, he won fame in 1763 after his impassioned pleading in the Parsons’ Cause, a case in which he defended the right of the colony to fix the price of the tobacco in which the clergy were paid, despite a contrary ruling from London.
Many feel he began the revolutionary movement in the South. “Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” an infamous statement by Henry that had led others to stand up for what they believed in. He boldly stated how the people should not let the king push them around and people agreed. His speech encouraged others to make a statement against the king to rebel and they got their respect.
The Revolutionary War, which was greatly won, involved many literary works that had big impacts. Thomas Paine’s The Crisis encouraged many citizens to fight for what they believed in and this led to the victory of the Battle of Trenton. This document was much likely related to Patrick Henry’s attempt to encourage others to rebel against Britain’s regulations with tobacco. Thomas Jefferson also had created a literary work that affected our nation deeply. The Declaration of Independence is still used today as a way of living as it was back then, when it was also used to inspire the soldiers at the time of war. So as you can see, literature did have an impact on our history, and without it maybe things would have happened differently. The influence of the literature during the Revolution helped create what we are now.