"The pen is mightier than the sword" - Edward Bulwer-Lytton
Photo Credit: Joel Montes
Writing inspires. Never was this more true than during the American Revolution. In Ron Chernow's excellent book Washington: A Life, the Continental Army endured several early losses and was on the brink of annihilation. Thomas Payne, of Common Sense fame, came up with a pamphlet called the American Crisis praising this young and inexperienced collection of farmers, carpenters, cobblers, and the like who were taking on the formidable Brirish army. General Washington made sure that these essays were read to all of his troops as they prepared to avoid and outsmart their foe. Here is the opening line:
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 by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.
No doubt that this emotional boost was one factor in the slowly turning tide that helped this misfit band overcome bleak and dark days at the start of the conflict. This is a great lesson to teach our students and to make sure they write with specific audiences at all times. Just like this young man found when his homage to his cat fell on receptive minds.