Henry’s Speech Was a Call to Action. What Did He Want His Fellow Virginians To Do? What Were His Justifications For The Proposed Action? How Did Henry Address The Concerns Of Those Who Did Not Agree With Him?
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At the Second Virginia Convention held on 23rd March, 1775 in St. John’s Church, Richmond Virginia, Patrick Henry stood and addressed his fellow delegates regarding the defense and arming of Virginia State. While some delegated supported the reconciliation with Britain while others rejected the demands of Britain, and Henry aimed at persuading his fellow Virginians to fight against Britain. Through the use of persuasion in his speech, Henry appealed to his audience’s emotions, and managed to convince them that England, the tyrant colonialist, had transformed its colonists into slaves, and that Americans has to fight to attain their freedom, or remain slaves of Britain.
Henry presents solid facts to justify his call for action throughout his speech. Henry tells his fellow delegates that Britain is ready for war and their men are already in the field, and that is why Americans cannot sit back and call for peace when there is no peace. While America is in support of love and reconciliation, Britain, on the other hand, has brought fleets and armies on the American soil to suppress its colonies, as opposed to promoting piece. Therefore, it is justified for America to fight against Britain in order to be free from slavery.
Henry stated that the British troops were on American soil to bind and rivet the Americans on chains of slavery. America prided in its potential for independence, and by painting America as a nation enslaved by Britain, Henry made his fellow delegates appreciate the need for them to rebel against Britain and fight for freedom. He asked his fellow Virginians whether it is worth remaining in slavery in order to attain life or peace. Through the use of the image of slavery, Henry managed to paint a clear picture of how the situation was, therefore, making it easier for him to emphasize the need for America’s independence. Also, Henry uses a change in the volume of his voice in his video speech to appeal to the emotions of his fellow delegates. Henry begins his speech in a normal tone of voice, but throughout the video, his voice gradually gets louder with time, and in the end, he shouts his concluding line, “give me liberty, or give me death!”This gradual volume change in Henry’s voice enabled him to appeal to the feelings of his audience effectively, and eventually emphasize on his message of fighting for liberty.
At the beginning of Henry’s speech, he was aware of the fact that not every delegate supported his idea of fighting British rule; some wanted America to make peace and reconciliation with Britain. He politely acknowledged “different men often see the same subject in different lights” and that his aim was to express his sentiments unreservedly regarding the debate on whether Americans should fight for their freedom or remain enslaved by the British rule. Henry hoped his fellow delegates would not see his sentiments as disrespectful. He also told his audience that they had a responsibility towards America and God to seek the truth and that if he held back his opinions for fear of offending others; he would be disloyal to God. This way, Henry managed to convince those, not in agreement with his that his call to Virginians to fight for their liberty had moral grounds.
Through the use of figurative language and persuasion, Henry managed to convince his fellow Virginians that the time had come for America, to take arms and fight against the British colonialism that for along time had enslaved them. America had to make a choice between remaining in slavery, and fighting for their freedom, and thanks to Henry’s speech, they chose to fight against the British rule in order to attain independence.
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