Patrick Henry Speech

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In 1775, a group of people at the Virginia Convention listened to Patrick Henry speak on British rule and American lack of freedom. Some of these people agreed with Henry while others did not. In his speech to the Virginia Convention, Patrick Henry attempts to motivate his audience to take up arms and fight for their freedom by presenting the situation at hand and reminding the leaders that their previous efforts at attaining peace were ineffective.

To confront the country’s leaders with their current position of danger, Patrick Henry provides evidence with recurring images and references. He provides evidence of imminent danger of British rule by creating the image of “war-like preparations which cover our waters and darken our lands.” This image depicts a state of inferiority toward Britain because the reader realizes that America is continuing to lose sight of freedom. Patrick Henry also provides evidence with recurring references to slavery. He ties America to slavery with the words “chains”, “bind”, “forging”, etc. By repeating these words, he conveys an urgency to fight for their freedom before it is too late. Henry shows that America is indeed in danger by constructing images and references that evoke strong emotion from his audience.

To help his audience better understand his reasoning and purpose, Patrick Henry, through a series of rhetorical questions and answers, reminds the leaders that their previous efforts at reaching peace with the British were ineffective. He begins to do so by asking the question “shall we try argument?” He then proceeds to answer with “we have been doing that for the last ten years.” By asking this question and providing the answer for the audience, Henry makes it clear that arguing has not and will never work. He later asks the question “when shall we be stronger?” Here, he helps the audience realize that they have been weak for a long time and have made no progress in attaining and preserving peace. Patrick Henry proves...
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