The main thrust of Paine’s final American Crisis was to emphasize the importance of the Union, ‘the great hinge on which the whole machine turned’. Without it the war could not have been won. It was necessary to strengthen ‘that happy union which had been our salvation, and without which we should have been a ruined people’. 1 Paine wrote those words just after an attempt to improve the union, which he had assisted with his pen, had ended in failure. This was a proposal by Congress to the states that they approve a duty of 5 per cent on all imports into America, the yield to be used to pay the interest on debts incurred by the war effort. All the states had initially concurred, except Georgia, which was, in Paine’s words, ‘just emerging from the tyranny of the enemy’, and Rhode Island. 2 There the General Assembly unanimously rejected the proposed impost on 1 November 1782. 3 Congress was not prepared to accept this decision and sent a delegation to Rhode Island in December to try to get it reversed. The delegates, however, returned to Philadelphia before the end of the month on receiving the unexpected news that Virginia had gone back on its acceptance of the duty.