So began the first pamphlet in Thomas Paine’s American Crisis series. “The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country,” Paine continued, “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. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness [expense] only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.”
It was December 1776, and American independence appeared to be doomed. Paine, whose pamphlet Common Sense had prodded America toward independence a year before, now took up his pen again to rally Americans to stand fast in the face of a long series of discouraging setbacks.
The disasters had started in New York. On July 2, the same day Congress had made its initial vote for independence down in Philadelphia, British warships and transports had begun entering New York Harbor. They were the leading edge of the largest expeditionary force thus far in British history–10 ships of the line and 20 frigates manned by 10,000 sailors, along with scores of transport ships. The 32,000 soldiers they carried comprised the largest army yet seen on American soil.
When the British and their German allies landed, George Washington’s outnumbered soldiers fought bravely, but the British beat them again and again, driving them off Long Island to Manhattan and then defeating them at the battles of Kip’s Bay, Harlem Heights, Fort Washington, and White Plains. Washington had done well to get his army off Long Island without being trapped after the drubbing it took there. Then he and what was left of his army barely escaped Manhattan after the losses there.
By December Washington had little more than a tenth of the troops with which he had first set out to defend New York, and the British had chased them across New Jersey and into Pennsylvania. Congress had no money to pay Washington’s soldiers, or feed them, or provide them new uniforms to replace the clothes and shoes that were wearing out on their backs and feet, even as the first snow began to fall. Many of the American soldiers’ enlistments were due to expire at the end of the year, and few were inclined to reenlist. The army could dissolve. The cause seemed lost as the victorious British fanned out across New Jersey, and large numbers of demoralized New Jerseyites began taking the oath of allegiance to King George. Even one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence gave up, surrendered, and renounced his loyalty to the cause of American freedom.
The infant United States nearly died in its cradle. Then, somehow, Americans found the strength to hold firm. Partially it was Paine’s pamphlet with its stirring words. Partially it was Washington’s steady, courageous leadership. Partially it was patriot financier Robert Morris fronting the funds on his own credit to give the soldiers a pittance of the backpay that was owed them, helping to persuade them to reenlist. Mostly it was the Patriot element of the American people–perhaps only of third of the total population–who knew their cause was right and knew they had to save American freedom and pass it down to future generations. Knowing that, they could not give up.
It became the stuff of legend–though perhaps modern Americans no longer remember– how Washington led his tiny, ragtag army back across the Delaware River in a howling blizzard on Christmas night to take the offensive against the British and German occupying forces. During the march some of the Americans, whose shoes had worn out, left bloody footprints in the snow. Two men collapsed along the way, and their bodies were later found in snow banks. But the army persevered and attacked the Germans at Trenton the next morning, winning a dramatic victory. Eight days later they defeated a British force at Princeton. The war was far from over, but it never looked quite that dark again. Freedom-loving Americans had demonstrated they simply would not give up regardless of the circumstances.
We don’t face suffering like Washington’s soldiers did in December 1776, nor are we in any significant danger of being shot or bayoneted, but we face a crisis that has the potential to be as crucial for American freedom as the one they faced. If Donald Trump secures the Republican nomination, the result will almost certainly be the election of Hillary Clinton as president of the United States and the wrecking of the Republican Party for at least a decade to come. Even if Trump wins, he will be as great a threat to American freedom as Hillary. Either way, it’s hard to say what will be left of our freedoms after that. We won’t know how close we are to losing them until they’re gone.
As Washington and his army demonstrated, even a relatively small segment of the population can change the course of history if they know their cause is just and they will not give up. Will we be the devoted band of patriots needed to save freedom in our generation? Or will we, as Paine suggested, value our freedom little because it has thus far cost most of us so little? Did we set out to support Ted Cruz because we thought it would be easy to defeat the forces of evil that have had this country in their grip? Or was it because we knew this cause is right? If it was right when we started, it’s still right today.
So stand fast! Don’t let the leftist media and the Trump trolls discourage you. They want us to give up because that’s the only sure way for Trump to win! Don’t give up! This battle isn’t over yet by a long shot! We’re not whipped yet, and we don’t aim to be.
If you live in a state that is still to vote–especially if you live in Indiana–get out and vote! Make the time! It won’t take nearly as long as marching to Trenton. Your country and your children’s freedom are worth it! Make sure your freedom-loving, patriotic friends who support Ted Cruz get out and vote too. Whether your state has voted yet or not, you can get involved. Go to TedCruz.org. Donate if you can. Participate in the call-from-home program to help remind voters to go to the polls. Encourage each other. And never, never give up.