These are the times that try our souls


By William Haupt III - The Center Square



“If trouble must come, let it come in my time, so my children can live in peace.”

— Thomas Paine

It was Christmas December 1776 in America. The Colonial army had lost New York and retreated to Pennsylvania. Desertion was rife. The weather was ghastly. It looked like the last stand for the Colonial army. In desperation, George Washington turned to the patriot who scribed the pamphlet, “Common Sense,” to inspire the colonies to revolt. He asked him to re-spirit his discouraged army.

Thomas Paine promulgated: “These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph!”

Something magical happened that Christmas Eve that would change world history. Against all odds, the Continental military reversed course and marched on to victory! Historians still wonder what made this rag tag army carry on in the face of certain defeat. What instilled them to keep fighting?

Was it pride? Humiliation? Was it their families? Or was it returning home as defeated cowards?

As we look back at Christmas Eve 1776 and recall Paine’s words that motivated these distraught patriots to keep fighting, we know why they kept battling. “It was for God and for Country.” When Thomas Paine rose to the occasion, they rose with him: “Tyranny, like hell is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”

After eight years on the battlefield, George Washington needed a decisive victory to convince the nations in Europe working to end the conflict to ordain American independence. When General Cornwallis surrendered to Washington at Yorktown on Oct. 19, 1781, it was much more than a victory. It was an event that would change the world. It led to the creation of the greatest nation on earth.

When our victorious soldiers in the Continental Army returned to their towns, villages and hamlets, they were optimistic America would always remain “the home of the brave and the land of the free.”

When it was time to create a more perfect union, many of these soldiers attended the Philadelphia Convention in 1787. Although Paine was not there, Ben Franklin brought stacks of Paine’s “Common Sense” to be used in forming a new government. Under Washington’s leadership, they spent the summer writing what became the longest surviving Constitution in the world.

“The result of our experiment will be that men may be trusted to govern themselves.”

— Thomas Jefferson

When the delegates returned home with the new Constitution, the colonies showed apprehension and mistrust for a document that created a powerful central government. They wanted one they could control, not one that controlled them. Many of these same soldiers who fought for our liberty refused to ratify any document until they had a right to dissolve a government if it became abusive.

They had learned valuable lessons living under British authoritarianism. They were determined to have the right to speak out freely against the government if they had grievances. They knew that any type of censorship would restrict their power over government and empower government over the people.

“The evil which results from censorship is impossible to measure.”

— Jeremy Bentham

The colonies witnessed repression by British soldiers in the colonies who restricted the possession of guns and ammo in many cities and towns following the Boston Massacre of March 5, 1770. British soldiers killed several people who were speaking out against British abuse. In the weeks following the incident, a battle waged between the Patriots and Loyalists over gun control in major cities.

The colonies knew if they approved a government that restricted gun ownership, they’d not be able to stop tyranny or abuse of their God-given rights. They refused to ratify any Constitution without a guarantee they could always posses weapons to defend themselves against federal tyranny and abuse.

“Every man with a gun is a citizen. Every man without a gun is only a subject.”

— Allen West

On June 21, 1788, the Constitution was ratified by the colonies, but only after it had been amended to contain a bill of rights that addressed the two most important concerns of the colonies: The First Amendment was the right to free speech and the Second Amendment was the right to bare arms.

Historians credit Paine for the success of the American Revolution. He turned a gruesome defeat into an ultimate victory. He inspired colonial patriots to fight for independence. When “the going got tough for our soldiers he encouraged them to get tough and keep going” when defeat was inevitable. He convinced them that the cause was far greater than they were.

“The real man smiles in trouble, gathers strength from distress, and grows brave by reflection.”

— Thomas Paine

According to The Heartland Institute, progressives and socialists won more seats in state and federal legislatures than any time in history last election. Socialists, progressives and leftist members of the Democratic National Committee have invaded every branch of federal and state government. They won 266 races in 29 states and Washington, DC. They lost just 24 races. Socialists, progressives and leftist pseudo Democrats who hide behind the veneer of the DNC won 90% of their total races.

In January, we will be entering unchartered waters; more turbulent than any in history. We’ll face challenges we’ve never met on American soil. Our right to free speech is being abridged. Healthy debate in the press and on internet forums has been cut from under us by the swords of liberal hit squad fact-checkers. Socialists are demanding gun control as a priority when President-elect Joe Biden takes office. Their socialist agenda will transform America into a clone of the failed Soviet USSR in four years.

The greatness of Thomas Paine saved America then and that greatness can save it today; only if we wish. Our nation plunged into a crisis led by new age socialists who have openly infiltrated our governments at the will of the people. Millennials welcomed their anti-American zealotry, believing they offered something better than free market capitalism. The future of the republic is in jeopardy. This makes Paine’s spirited words even more insightful 244 years later than they were in 1776.

As Paine told us, “We have the power to make the world over again,” and that is what we must do to save the greatest nation in the world from unmitigated destruction at the hands of socialists! The chapters of Marxism are a bible for socialists to turn liberty into government dependence so they can control us instead of us controlling government. This is totally foreign to the teachings of Paine, who inspired the creation of a nation to be governed by the governed. Thomas Paine is not around to bail us out. Will we do it ourselves?

“Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”

— Thomas Paine

By William Haupt III

The Center Square

William Haupt III is a retired professional journalist, author, and citizen legislator in California for over 40 years. He got his start working to approve California Proposition 13.

William Haupt III is a retired professional journalist, author, and citizen legislator in California for over 40 years. He got his start working to approve California Proposition 13.