Response Paper Rose Pullen HIUS 221 WEEK 3 April 8, 2013 Patrick Henry is not a very well know man today. When you ask people about him no one even knows who he was or what he did for America. In this parer hopefully you will learn more about who Patrick Henry was and see the important that he played in America history. Patrick Henry was born in Hanover Country, Virginia on May 29, 1736. He was born to John and Sarah Winston Henry. He was a figure of American’s struggles for liberty and self-government.
Henry was a lawyer, planter, speaker, and willing participant in virtually every aspect of the founding of America. He was married two times to Sarah Shelton, with which he had six kids and Dorothea Dandridge who had eleven kids. Henry served in the Virginia House of Burgesses; he was a member of the Virginia committee of Correspondence, a delegate to the Virginia Convention and a delegated to the Virginia Constitution Ratification Convention. He played a protuberant part in the May 6, 1776, convention and became the first governor of the commonwealth under its new constitution.
Patrick Henry served five terms as governor of Virginia from 1776-1779 and then again 1784-1786. Henry was most known for his speech “Give me Liberty or Give me Death” (Henry, P. 1775) which he gave on March 23, 1775. Unfortunately the text of this speech like most of his speech he gave was not documented until years after his death. This speech did not first appear in print until William Wirt published it in 1816 in “Life and Character of Patrick Henry”. Wirt had to correspond with the men who had heard the speech and other familiar with people who were there when he gave the speech.
In the speech he urged his fellow Virginians to arm in self-defense, closing his appeal with the immortal words: “I know not what course other may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death. ” (Henry, P. 1775) Patrick Henry speech was a call to action. The purpose behind his speech was to get his fellow Virginians to start a revolted against the ruler of Britain’s, King George III. He wanted them to back him up and start a war so that they could claim their independences. He justifies his desire throughout hiss speech by grabbing the attention of his audiences.
He eases into his controversial speech by engaging the crowd’s feelings. He then tries to link his speech to the beliefs or philosophy within every individual of the gathering by the references he uses throughout his speech. In his speech he also say “The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. 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, P. 1775) The gathering is ultimately being told there is no other decision then to go to war with Britain. The way that Patrick Henry address the considers of those that did not agree with him was by telling them over and over again that there is no other chose or option that they have to go to war. Throughout his speech he explain and telling the people that in order for them to be independent and have their own liberties that they have to go to war with Britain.
By grabbing the attention of the audiences in the beginning of his speech he did not have many that seem to be against him. The imagery that Henry used to help illustrate his message was rhetorical devices. He uses comparing metaphors like build-up of armies and navies to “chains” (Henry, P. 1775) which British will “bind” and “rivet” He continues the freedom/slavery idea here and builds an appeal to anguish through the imagery of the imprisonment created through the metaphor. The reason that these images resonated so strongly with his audiences is because he refers to the colonists themselves being slaves “bound hand and foot” (Henry, P. 775). He was saying in a metaphor that under British rules they would not have freedom. He begins his contradiction with the statement “Sir we are not weak, if we make proper use of those means which God of nature hath placed in our power” (Henry, P. 1775). He creates an appeal to authority as he gives credit to their power as coming from God. Throughout Henry’s speech he uses varies Biblical references. One of the most appealing Biblical references he uses is “Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation?
For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst and to provide for it. ” This comes from Ezekiel 12:2 which say “that those who can not see and can not hear truth about God will lose their spiritual salvation. ” (Henry, P. 1775) He is comparing the colonists that could not see or hear the truth about what British was doing to those in the Bible who lost their salvation. Here, even though, he changed spiritual salvation to temporal salvation which means that the colonist will not be free which he equates with death.
The reason that the Biblical themes resonated with his audiences is because it showed them that he was a spiritual person. He made it seem like what he was saying was coming from God and that they would have God on their side. “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, P. 1775) He was telling the assembly that they would not be alone it the fight that God would be on their side through it all.
Patrick Henry “Give me Liberty or Give me Death” (Henry, P. 1775) speech is a big part of our history here in America. Hopefully after reading this it will give you more of understanding of his speech and who Patrick Henry was. References Page H. W. Brands, T. H. Breen, R. Hal Williams, Ariel J. Gross American Stories A History of the United States Volume 1 Second Edition; (Pearson Education, Inc. 2012,2009) pp 111-165 Mary Zielonka, The American Dream, What is America? What was America? (Sep 9, 2009) http://mzielonkaamdream111. blogspot. com/2009/09/patrick-henry. html The Bible