The eighteenth century, a time of turmoil and chaos in the colonies, brought many opinionated writers to the forefront in support or refutation of the coming American Revolution. This highly controversial war that would ultimately separate the future United States of America from Great Britain became the center of debate. Two writers, both of whom supported the Revolution, now stand to fully illuminate one side of the debate. Thomas Paine, a radical propagandist, wrote many pieces during this time including “The Crisis Number 1” (1776). Through writing, he appealed to the “common man” in order to convince them to gather their arms and fight for their freedom. In this document, he utilizes many of the same rhetorical skills and propaganda techniques as Patrick Henry, a convincing orator, did in his famous speech delivered to the state’s delegates in 1775. Among these techniques are transfer, abstract language, and pathos. In both works, these were used to call the audiences to war. These influential pieces both contained a call to action which, through the use of strong and decisive language, aided the beginning of the American Revolution.
“In God We Trust” is the phrase upon which we base our country. It can be seen on our money, in our justice system, and even in our Pledge of Allegiance. By recognizing God as the foundation of truth and justice which most people were inclined to accept, both Paine and Henry formed successful arguments based partly upon transfer. Because God is considered the truth, the right way, and the fair judge of the world, it only made sense to use His influence to give credibility and the positive connections associated with God to the American Revolution. As intended, both audiences freely accepted this propaganda without notable questioning. In Paine’s essay, transfer rarely goes unseen for more than a few sentences. Statements such as “…for so unlimited a power can belong only to God,” and “God hath blessed him with uninterrupted health,” suggest that God controls and influences the outcome of all things, and because of that, the colonists should fight. He insists that freedom must be fought for and earned and that
“God Almighty will not give up a people to military destruction…who have so earnestly and so repeatedly sought to avoid the calamities of war…” Through that single statement, he is assuring his audience that God holds favor with those who seek to avoid war, so they will not lose if they finally take action. Likewise, Henry used God to urge the delegates into war. “There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us,” challenges the idea that the colonies will fight their battle with no help. His reassuring tone helps the audience accept his view and allows them to believe that there is indeed hope. Although Henry did not include so many allusions to God, heaven, and the Bible, his usage was just as effective.