Patrick Henry: Fallacy
In his speech during the Virginia Convention, Patrick Henry used a dynamic tone to express his ideas. He utilized the rhetorical technique of fallacy to persuade his audience into thinking that America’s independence was necessary for the good of the nation and its people. Henry takes advantage of fallacies such as the either or fallacy, fallacy of complex questions, appeal of consequence, and appeal to emotion to implement his ideas into the audience. One common type of fallacy that Henry uses is an either-or fallacy; either gain independence by war with Britain or forever stay under the manipulation of the British empire. For example, “For my own part I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery…the subject ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth…” Henry claims that freedom from Britain is the only solution to their problems. By doing so, the audience is more engaged on this side of the argument, and may not see any sense of the other argument as a result. This reason is not really an actual fact, but more of Henry’s own personal opinion of what they should do. The listener may feel biased and that they should agree with Henry. Henry uses the fallacy of complex questions, which shows that Henry is confident his audience will respond in agreement to his demands for freedom. For example, Henry questions the army of Great Britain acting aggressively despite Americans peacefully trying to reconcile. “Ask yourselves how this gracious reception of our petition comports with these warlike preparations which cover our waters and darken our land. Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation?” The obvious answer to these questions would be “no.” He goes on to scare the audience onto his side by using the fallacy, appeal to consequence. “But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be...
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