Patrick Henry Rhetoric Essay

Sometimes no matter how much we are against it, war is necessary. This was the case in America in 1775. Virginian leaders met to discuss the direction our country was headed in. What were we going to do about the conflict with the British? Who was treating us poorly? Some leaders continued peaceful means to resolve conflict. Patrick Henry thought differently. He wrote the famous “Speech of the Virginia Convention” to push for war. Because of how Patrick Henry used appeals and rhetorical devices, he was able to convince the other colonists to go to war with England.

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The first thing Henry does to persuade the colonists to go to war is to establish his credible representation was use ethos. One way he establishes his reputation is by talking about his past experience with the British. For example he states, “I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. And judging by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the British ministry for the last ten years to justify those hopes with which gentlemen have been please to solace themselves and the House” (Henry n. p).

Here he is using the rhetorical device of an analogy. He is comparing their history with Britain to walking with a lamp. A lamp shows us the way forward. The lamp he is talking about shows that the future with Britain will be atrocious. Henry says, “Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave” (Henry n. p). He says this to persuade the colonists that when they have a war then God will be with them.

Henry builds his ethos by expressing a religious passion. He positioned himself like a Christian fighting for God. Later in the speech, Henry says, “Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable–and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come” (Henry n. p). This says that there is no other path to take than to go to war.

Patrick Henry appeals to the ethics of the colonists to persuade them that there is no other course other than war. The logos of Henry’s speech uses solid facts to convince the people of Virginia that fighting or slavery are the only possible outcomes for them. He uses this as fear to persuade the people that fighting is the only way to keep their freedom. “Are fleets and armies necessary to work a love and reconciliation? ” (Henry n. p). This question states that the “fleets and armies” are not there to make peace, but to try to shut down the colonies.

The Convention can use this as a reasoning of their actions to fight not flight. In the context of Henry’s speech, he shows that the war has already started and he is pushing the Virginia Convention to vote to take up arms against the British. Henry uses logos appeals again to show his description of America’s actions: “We have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves”(Henry n. p). This is to show the people that America is not the so called “bad guy” by listing the reasons for them to attempt to make peace.

Henry also uses powerful words to emphasize that action must be taken quickly. The logos appeal to Henry’s speech acts as the guide to his argument. Pathos is the emotion used by the author or speaker; it can be shown using exclamation points, question marks, and the tone the used. Patrick Henry famous statement “Give me liberty, or give me death! ” (Henry n. p), uses pathos because there is an emotional connection with this phrase. This statement shows he is very passionate about this subject which makes his speech more persuasive.

And claiming he would die for liberty shows he is devoted to fighting against the British. By Mr. Henry making this declaration in his speech we know, that this is extremely important to him and that there is nothing else he would give his all to fight for. Not only does his use of pathos show us his emotions but, during his speech in 1775, it would have had even more meaning and possibly had pushed more and more colonists to agree to go to war. Patrick Henry uses allusions to explain to his audience what is happening, as well as what the consequences were, and will be.

Allusions play a crucial role in the speech of Patrick Henry, since they significantly showed his credibility and caused him to gain support from the delegates of Virginia. “Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss” (Henry n. p), refers to the bible when Judus betrayed Jesus by giving him away with a kiss. Patrick Henry uses this biblical allusion to refer to Jesus as the colonists doing everything possible to restore peace, while he uses Judus as the allusion for the British trying to take away our freedom.

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. Because of how Patrick Henry used appeals and rhetorical devices, he was able to convince the other colonists to go to war with England.

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