Speech In The Virginia Convention By Patrick Henry: Rhetorical Analysis

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In this article “speech in the Virginia Convention,” Patrick Henry, speaks to Virginia legislators to convince them that they should join the war of independence from British rule. In that, he delivered a speech that assured his frame as one of the great advocates of liberty. The overall genre of this article is that it is politically biased. Patrick Henry was convinced that the war with Great Britain was inevitable, he presented a strong argument for having the Virginia militia fight against the British because reasoning and petitions had failed. The purpose of his speech is clear, “There is no longer room for hope”, Henry states.

There were many modes of persuasion devices used in his speech. Henry uses Ethos to gain the delegates’ trust by saying, “I shall speak forward and freely and without reserve”. Meaning he is not there to insult anyone but not afraid to speak his mind. He compliments those who had spoken against the plan by calling them patriots, but he presents the idea that different people could see the same thing in different ways. He feels they should hear the choice between living in freedom or suffering as slaves. His credibility is his experience in which he had been observing the British for the past ten years.

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Henry also uses Pathos as being one to trigger and convince the people to stand up and free themselves from Britain. Henry serves to enhance the imagery and the emotional impact of the speech, by making it more intense by stating the British were already there, not to protect them, but to enforce British rule. He uses words such as “slighted” and “spumed” to cause anger between the colonists. Another Pathos mode of persuasion in his speech is when he ends with, “Give me liberty or give me death,” Henry has such a big devotion that he would rather die fighting for liberty than to live as a slave.

Henry uses another mode of persuasion with Logos by stating that they have exhausted all means of reasoning and they will continue to face the hardships Britain has inflicted on the colonies. He states that it is only logical that the British are about to launch a war against the colonies if they don’t surrender to their demands. So there is no reason to remain loyal.

In conclusion, Patrick Henry summarized all the failed efforts that had been repelled and ignored, then set forth his feeling that the only reasonable course of action that remained for the colonists was to take action and obtain change through the use of force. The theme of his speech is clear, courage. To stand up for what you believe in, which Henry believed that America should do that and that America was founded on freedom. 


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