Paine compares the attempts to reconcile with Britain after the Battle of Lexington and Concord to an old almanac. What does he mean?
He means the idea of reconciliation is now preposterous and that no rational person could support it. No one would use last year’s almanac to make plans for the current year! Also, as an almanac ceases to be useful at a specific moment (midnight of December 31), Paine implies that reconciliation ceased to be a valid goal at the moment of the first shot on April 19, 1775. (Paine often alludes to aspects of colonial life, like almanacs, that would resonate with all readers. They include references to farming, tree cutting, hunting, land ownership, slavery, biblical scripture, family and neighbor bonds, maturation, and the parent-child relationship; see “The Metaphor of Youth” below.) By referring the matter from argument to arms, a new area for politics is struck; a new method of thinking hath arisen. All plans, proposals, etc., prior to the nineteenth of April, ., to the commencement of hostilities [Lexington and Concord], are like the almanacs of the last year which, though proper [accurate] then, are superseded and useless now. Whatever was advanced by the advocates on either side of the question then, terminated in one and the same point, viz. [that is], a union with Great Britain. The only difference between the parties was the method of effecting it — the one proposing force, the other friendship; but it hath so far happened that the first hath failed and the second hath withdrawn her influence.