Patrick Henry Rhetorical Analyisis

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Colin Summers
November 5, 2012
COM 340

“Give me Liberty or Give me Death!”

The American Revolution was an extraordinary time filled with uncertainty and ambiguity and allowed Patriots such as Patrick Henry the opportunity to speak out against the discriminating behavior and actions towards American Colonists. In his most famous speech known as “Speech to the Virginia Convention”, Henry illustrates the need to act out against the British and convince the Virginian delegates to send troops to fight back against the British. In his speech, Henry uses rhetorical devices, questions, and emotional and logical appeals to help persuade action and revolt against the British. Patrick Henry was born May 29, 1736 in Studley, Virginia. He was educated at an early age by his father who had formal schooling when living in Scotland. He used this knowledge learned from his father to eventually become a lawyer as well as a politician. “Henry developed a reputation as a powerful and persuasive speaker with the 1763 case known as ‘Parsons Cause’” () and his reputation continued to grow and allowed him to win a seat in the House of Burgesses. From the very beginning, Henry opposed many of the British doctrines being placed on the American colonists such as the Stamp Act. Other politicians called his comments and beliefs against the British rule as “treason” however Henry stood firm on his standing and his opinions on the Stamp act “helped spur discontent with British rule” throughout the rest of the colonies. Patrick Henry uses effective rhetorical language and devices in order to persuade the House of Burgess in Virginia to fight back against the British. He begins by asking rhetorical questions to his audience “I ask gentlemen, sir, what means this martial array if its purpose be not to force us to submission?” (Henry, 1) as well as “Has Great Britain any enemy, in this quarter of the world, to call for all the accumulation of navies and armies? No, sir...
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