What arguments, appeals, and also rhetorical strategies did Patrick Henry use in 1775 to persuade reluctant members of the 2nd Virginia Convention to build a military solution to brother aggression?


In 1775 American freedom was no a foregone conclusion. If there had actually been unrest and also resistance in Massachusetts with scattered plot of support from various other areas, no organized motion toward revolution existed across the Colonies. Virginia ranked amongst the largest, wealthiest, and most populous swarms in 1775, and her political and military support for self-reliance would be critical for success. In this decided Patrick Henry (1736–1799) uses an effective rhetoric to to convince influential, affluent, landed guys of Virginia with lot to shed to move past their current diplomatic attitude opposing british aggression come the an ext treasonous one of open army preparedness.

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Patrick Henry, 1736–1799


Patrick Henry, speech to the Virginia Convention, in march 23, 1775.

Text Type

Speech, non-fiction.

Text Complexity

Grade 11-CCR complexity band.

For more information on text complexity see these resources from achievethecore.org.

In the Text analysis section, Tier 2 vocabulary native are defined in pop-ups, and also Tier 3 words are explained in brackets.

Click here for standards and an abilities for this lesson.


Common core State Standards

ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.1 (cite proof to analysis specifically and by inference)ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.4 (determine the definition of words and phrases)ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.6 (determine author’s point of view)

Advanced Placement united state History

Key principle 3.1 (IIB) (arguments around rights of brother subjects, the civil liberties of the individual,…)

Teacher’s Note

In this great students will deconstruct Patrick Henry’s famous speech to discover the tools of reliable persuasion, including appeals, rhetorical strategies, and also classical argument. This is a persuasive speech, one plan not just to existing an debate but likewise to persuade the audience to act. If the speech deserve to be offered to investigate concerns of freedom, power, and rights of the governed, this lesson concentrates upon efficient rhetoric. The speech consists of several Biblical allusions — revolutionary rhetoricians regularly used Biblical references since it permitted them to speak more strongly against Britain without using overtly treasonous speech.

The message of this decided is well known; less famous is the fact that there was no yes, really transcript created of Henry’s decided — after ~ all, this discussions smacked the treason, and keeping a written record would have been dangerous. In an atmosphere of digital media and world-wide instant communication, students may wonder how Henry’s words to be preserved. This speech was recreated in 1817 by william Wirt of Maryland, who published the an initial biography that Patrick Henry. Wirt drew upon materials built up beginning in 1808, including interviews v those that knew Henry and those that were current when the speech was delivered. Because that an electronic version of Wirt’s book, visit this link: Sketches the the Life and also Character that Patrick Henry.

The provenance that the decided notwithstanding, Henry’s words carry out a rich resource to research rhetorical strategies and classical argument, and that examine is the emphasis of this lesson. This message divides into four sections aligned come the arrangement of timeless argument.

The very first two paragraphs type the arrival (Exordium). The Exordium attempts to connect the audience, to prepare them because that the article to come, and also to describe the objective (thesis) of the speech. The third paragraph provides the statement of fact (Narratio) and argument (Confirmatio). The Narratio contextualizes the argument, presenting any kind of background info necessary, while the Confirmatio defines the proof that supports the thesis.The fourth paragraph presents and also refutes counter debates (Refutatio).The final paragraph develops the conclusion (Peroratio). The Peroratio serves numerous purposes: to restate one argument, come amplify reasoning, to inspire an audience, and also to rouse emotionally responses.

Each paragraph is attach by a number of close reading concerns designed to invite student evaluation in four major areas: classic argument structure, diction and also syntax, rhetorical strategies, and also argumentative appeals (logos, ethos, and also pathos).

This lesson is divided into 2 parts, both easily accessible below. The teacher’s guide has a elevator note, the message analysis with responses to the close reading questions, accessibility to the interaction exercises, and a follow-up assignment. The student’s version, an interaction PDF, contains every one of the above except the responses come the close reading questions and the follow-up assignment.

Teacher’s guide (continues below)Background noteText analysis and nearby reading questions with prize keyInteractive exercisesFollow-up assignmentStudent version (click to open)Interactive PDFBackground noteText evaluation and close reading questionsInteractive exercises

Background QuestionsWhat kind of text are we handle with?When to be it written?Who created it?For what audience to be it intended?For what purpose was that written?

In 1775 unrest bubbled through the American Colonies. Britain had severely limited Massachusetts with the Intolerable Acts; communities were voting to boycott brother goods, and also British soldiers were becoming a typical sight in the American Colonies. In this lesson friend will check out a renowned speech by Patrick Henry (1736–1799), member of the second Virginia Convention. Patrick Henry is not speaking in the Virginia residence of Burgesses in Williamsburg due to the fact that it had actually been dissolved the year before by royal Governor Dunmore. Resenting this brother interference with local government, the members that the home of Burgesses regrouped together a state convention. In order to avoid any type of interference indigenous British troops, the 2nd Convention of roughly 120 delegates met in Richmond, Virginia, from March 20 v March 27.

The American colonies were attempting to negotiate with British in 1775, and many of Henry’s other delegates want to wait till these negotiations were completed before taking action. However Henry felt that hold-up would be a significant mistake. On in march 23, 1775, the asked the Virginia Convention to take it a protective stance immediately against good Britain by increasing an armed company in every Virginia county — an action considered by plenty of to be open up treason. His decided reflected language and actions far an ext radical the his other delegates were willing to go in public, yet Henry based his inquiry upon the presumption that even much more aggressive army actions by the brother would soon follow. Twenty-seven job after this decided was delivered the battles of Lexington and also Concord confirmed Henry correct.

In this class you will certainly look in ~ Patrick Henry’s speech and also analyze his methods for convincing his other members the the Virginia Convention to take a army stance versus the British. These delegates were wealthy and an effective and they had much to lose; Henry’s inquiry was a big decision that many of them to be reluctant come make. Henry supplied not just rhetorical devices but also the methods of classic argument, make a perhaps confusing situation basic and straightforward as he test to move all his fellow delegates towards the exact same result. His referrals were welcomed by the Convention.

The speech divides right into the 4 parts of a classical argument, defined below. Together you analysis the individual parts of the speech, look also for how these parts of the discussion work together.

The very first two paragraphs kind the introduction (Exordium). The Exordium attempts to interact the audience, preparing them for the message to come, and also to explain the objective (thesis) of the speech.The third paragraph gives the statement of truth (Narratio) and argument (Confirmatio). The Narratio contextualizes the argument, presenting any background information necessary, while the Confirmatio lays out in order the proof to support the thesis.The fourth paragraph presents and also refutes counter disagreements (Refutatio).The final paragraph develops the conclusion (Peroratio). The Peroratio may perform number of purposes: come restate an argument, come amplify reasoning, to accumulate an audience, and also to rouse emotional responses.

Text Analysis

Paragraph 1: Exordium
Activity: VocabularyLearn definitions by trying out how native are used in context.

1. The an initial paragraph of classical argument, the exordium, looks for to communicate the audience and prepare them come hear the speaker’s message. Give an instance in this paragraph of an effort to interact the audience and an example of an effort to prepare the audience.Henry looks for to connect his audience by mirroring his respect because that them. The recognizes and compliments the patriotism and also abilities the the various other members that the Convention in his an initial sentence (note that Henry continues to attend to the body together the House). That prepares his audience by expresses the hope that they will show him the exact same respect when he claims in sentence 2, “I hope it will certainly not be assumed disrespectful…” also though he will certainly be speak contrary come what has actually been previously presented, that reminds his audience the they are all partner by introduce to the entire group, together in sentence 6, “we deserve to hope to arrive at the truth.”

2. Another role of the exordium is to define the function of the speech. What objective does Henry establish, and also to what is he appeal in order to emphasize this purpose?The function of the debate, of which this decided is a part, is to “arrive in ~ truth” and fulfill the “great obligation which we host to God and also our country” (sentence 6). He is appealing to the honest integrity the his audience through articulating their earthly and also heavenly responsibilities.

3. Why go Henry use the ax “gentlemen” twice in the very first two sentences?In order for others to accept a various idea, castle must very first believe they room being respected. Henry looks for to develop his respect for those who carry out not agree with him by referring to them as gentlemen. In addition, Henry is hoping to indicate that since he is additionally a member of the Convention that they will offer him and also his principles the same respect.

4. Why walk Henry begin the 2nd sentence with “but”?This is a rhetorical change in perspective the helps come prepare his audience. Even though the is a other member the the Convention, he supplies a rhetorical transition to describe that what he will certainly say indigenous that suggest on will be various than that heard before.

5. In sentence 3 what does Henry average when he says, “this is no time for ceremony”? Why does he use the hatchet “ceremony”?He way this is no time to simply say things due to the fact that they might sound conciliatory, because ceremonies are often for visual display screen rather than actual action. The is emphasizing the time-sensitive nature the this debate and also establishing the prestige of immediate, serious conversation rather than a postponement that the concern (recall that some members the the Convention wished to wait until negotiations had run your course before beginning military preparedness).

6. What go Henry median by “awful moment” in sentence 4? Why does he usage this phrase?He means that the inquiry under conversation is extremely vital with possibly life-changing consequences. The is recognizing the treasonable nature the this discussion, displaying not just his own courage yet asking his fellow delegates to present courage as well.

7. In sentence 5, as soon as Henry states, “I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery,” he commits a logical fallacy. The false dichotomy (either-or) fallacy gives only two choices with no options in between, and also Henry provides this intentionally. Why?By removed other choices he is focusing his argument. He wants the listeners to understand that there are just two options; freedom, which the is advocating, or slavery, i beg your pardon he to know these proud, well-off men, plenty of of whom room slaveholders, will certainly not tolerate.

8. In sentence 7 Henry says on the basis of “ethos,” i beg your pardon is Greek because that “character.” such an dispute is referred to as an “ethical appeal.” the attempts to victory over listeners on the communication of the trustworthiness that the speaker. How, in this sentence, does Henry suggest that his listeners can trust him?By appeal to faith as he calls top top the “majesty that heaven,” Henry provides an moral (ethos) appeal that his audience will understand intellectually and also emotionally. The Convention members think about themselves come be guys of integrity and also ethics, as Henry acknowledged in sentence 1. In sentence 7 Henry is asking them to understand that he likewise is compelled to speak based upon his very own sense of verity (if the holds back, that would take into consideration himself “guilty the treason”). That reminds his audience that he, choose them, is a believer and also is trustworthy.

9. Exactly how does the honest appeal in sentence 7 relate come the moral appeal in sentence 1?In sentence 1 Henry acknowledges the patriotism of the members the the residence who have actually just spoken. In sentence 7 that enumerates his own ethics, stating the he should speak currently or it is in guilty that both treason to his country and disloyalty to the “majesty the heaven.” This reaffirms his trustworthiness with his audience.
MR. PRESIDENT: (1) No man thinks more highly than I do of the patriotism, and abilities, that the very worthy gentlemen who have just addressed the House. (2) but different men often see the same subject in various lights; and, therefore, ns hope it will not be believed disrespectful come those gentlemen if, entertaining as I do, opinions the a character very opposite to theirs, i shall speak forth my sentiments freely, and without reserve. (3) This is no time for ceremony. (4) The question before the house is among awful moment to this country. (5) because that my very own part, I take into consideration it together nothing much less than a inquiry of flexibility or slavery; and in proportion to the size of the subject need to be the freedom of the debate. (6) the is just in this means that we deserve to hope to arrive at truth, and also fulfill the good responsibility which we hold to God and our country. (7) need to I keep earlier my opinions at such a time, through are afraid of providing offence, ns should take into consideration myself as guilty of treason in the direction of my country, and also of an action of disloyalty toward the majesty that heaven, which i revere over all earthly kings.

Statue of Patrick Henry, Richmond, Virginia.

Close analysis Questions

10. In this second paragraph the the exordium, Henry functions to describe the importance and timeliness of his debate by setup up a contrast in between illusions and truth in sentences 8 and 12. According to Henry, which will his argument contain and which will it not contain?He states that that is “natural to guy to indulge in the illusions the hope” but in the critical sentence of the i he plainly says he will not perform that — that will understand the “whole truth.” His argument will contain truth but will not contain illusions.

11. Henry supplies the indigenous “hope” several times in this speech. Give an example of one “illusion that hope” the Henry argues in this 2nd paragraph.One illusion would certainly be the idea the the swarms and great Britain might negotiate one acceptable tranquility without war.

12. Allusions, unexplained referrals to other sources, are typically based ~ above the scriptures or mythology. What allusion walk Henry use in sentence 9 as soon as he says “listen come the song of that siren it rotates she transforms us into beasts?” how does this allusion add to his argument?He is alluding to the sirens uncovered in the epic The Odyssey. Siren calls room alluring and hard to resist even if expected, but they have the right to be deadly. Henry is saying the to listen to this call, this “illusion the hope”, also though it is tempting, will certainly prove fatal and transform the Convention into something unable to reason and also act (beasts).

13. Henry uses multiple biblical allusions v which his education audience would be familiar. In sentence 11 he says “Are us disposed the the variety of those who, having eyes, watch not, and, having ears, listen not.” This is from Ezekiel 12:2, as soon as god explains how those who hear Ezekiel’s words and also do not listen will certainly be destroyed. Exactly how does this allusion add to Henry’s argument?Henry is implying that no seeing or listening to his argument will lead to destruction.

14. Juxtaposition way to placed two aspects side by side, frequently for comparison. Henry walk this in sentences 11 and also 12. What is his function in first asking if they space “disposed to… view not, and… hear not” and also then stating, “…I am ready to recognize the entirety truth: to recognize the worst, and to carry out for it”?He again sets increase a selection for his audience. Would certainly they rather ignore the situation and also have danger outcomes (this choice is characterized by the vault allusions to the sirens and also Ezekiel) or rather know the truth and prepare? He clearly indicates the he chooses the second option.
(8) Mr. President, the is natural to man to indulge in the illusions the hope. (9) We space apt come shut ours eyes against a ache truth, and also listen come the track of the siren till she transforms us right into beasts. (10) Is this the component of wise men, engaged in a an excellent and arduous struggle for liberty? (11) room we disposed to it is in of the variety of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so practically concern their temporal salvation? (12) because that my part, everything anguish of spirit it may cost, i am ready to understand the totality truth; to recognize the worst, and to carry out for it.

Henry yielded his 1775 decided at St. John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia.

Close analysis Questions

The Narratio contextualizes the argument, including presenting any background information necessary, while the Confirmatio lays the end in bespeak the evidence to support the thesis. Henry lists several negotiation attempts by colonists and British responses. He supplies rhetorical strategies and appeals to further construct his argument, making sure that every item is contextualized from the colonial perspective.

15. Henry begins this i with another Biblical allusion, “one lamp through which my feet room guided” (Psalms 119:105). Quite than words of God, i beg your pardon is the lamp uncovered in the Biblical verse, what is the lamp that Henry uses to guide his feet in sentence 13? Why go he make this connection?The desk lamp is experience. Henry recounts past experiences and events that “guide his feet” and make fighting a necessity.

16. Henry proceeds to use “gentlemen” in this paragraph. Why?He desires to preserve his respect for his audience and also remind them that he is one of them. Together his argument builds he desires to take them in addition to him — reiterating the truth that they are esteemed colleagues.

17. What does “solace” mean? Why does Henry use this term?“Solace” means comfort in distress. Henry warns his audience that the “hopes” that the past may have been provided to lull the Convention, however such comfort is one illusion and will no last.

18. Henry provides parallelism (structuring paragraph in similar fashion) several times in this paragraph. Consider sentence 40, especially the verbs. Just how does Henry use both parallelism and verb an option (diction) to define that the nests have tried many steps to keep peace?“We have actually petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have actually prostrated; have implored…” He offers the parallel structure to indicate the procedure by i beg your pardon the nests have taken multiple measures to fix differences. He choose verbs that are progressively dramatic to repeat his audience the the colonies have tried everything without result. Think about “petition” (to carry written grievances) matches “remonstrate” (to forcefully protest) matches “supplicate” (to beg serious or humbly) versus “prostrate” (to entirely submit) matches “implore” (to beg desperately).

19. In the second paragraph Henry spoke of the “illusions of hope.” In sentence 43 he says, “There is no longer any room for hope.” Why go he use this hatchet again?He is linking this component of his argument to the exordium and also explaining that any type of chance of hope no longer exists. The is relocating his audience away from the position of illusive hope that they may have held in ~ the start of his decided toward one more position.

20. Henry again provides a Biblical allusion in sentence 18, “Suffer no yourselves to it is in betrayed through a kiss.” Christ to be betrayed by his disciple Judas through the kiss of brotherhood, which led to Christ’s arrest and crucifixion (Luke 22:47). That does Henry think represents Judas and also how does this allusion together a metaphor contribute to Henry’s argument?He trust the British represent Judas and also that while they will show up brotherly to the swarms they will betray, top to early american downfall.

21. Antithesis method to put two ideas together in order to contrast them, discussing their differences. In sentence 20, what does Henry contrast with “love and also reconciliation”? What is the effect?He contrasts them through “fleets and armies.” The effect is to highlight the fact that an excellent Britain does not take into consideration “love and also reconciliation” a viable strategy, since they have responded with “fleets and also armies,” and these should be “the last disagreements to which kings resort.” Henry emphasizes that an excellent Britain has already taken the matter past the diplomatic phase to the armed forces level.

22. Hypophora is a special form of rhetorical question by which a question is asked and then answered by the speaker (as protest to a usual rhetorical question, which is either no answered or has actually a yes/no answer). A hypophora is advantageous to current to one audience issues they may not have taken into consideration in depth. Find at the very least one example of hypophora in this paragraph and also explain its donation to Henry’s argument.

Some possibilities follow:

“Are fleets and armies vital to a job-related of love and also reconciliation?” “These room the implements the war; the last arguments to which monarchs resort.” (sentences 20 and also 23). Henry emphasizes the seriousness of the military solution that an excellent Britain has already displayed.“Has an excellent Britain any type of enemy, in this quarter of the world, to speak to for every this build-up of navies and armies?” “No, sir, she has none. They are meant for us; they deserve to be supposed for no other.” (sentences 26 and 27). Henry points the end that the british military solution cannot be taken as anything various other than a direct an obstacle to the Colonies.“And what have actually we to protest to them? chandelier we shot argument?” “Sir, we have actually been trying the for the critical ten years.” (sentences 30, 31, and 32). Henry reminds his audience that the swarms have to be trying to negotiate because that ten year without results.

23. Henry very first mentions slavery in paragraph one as soon as he contrasts it with freedom. Find an instance of slave imagery in this paragraph. What is Henry’s purpose in using this image in paragraph 3?In sentence 29 Henry states, “They are sent over come bind and also rivet upon us those chain which the brother ministry have actually been so long forging.” He desire to continue the image of slavery to explain that the nests have used debate to combat the make the efforts of the British to enslave them, however these efforts have failed. Convention delegates contained slaveholders that would recognize and recoil indigenous this imagery.

24. Rhetorical parenthesis is the insertion right into a sentence of an explanatory native or phrase. Take into consideration sentence 42, “In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond expect of peace and reconciliation.” identify the parenthesis and Henry’s function for including it.The parenthesis is “after this things,” and also Henry is introduce to the Colonies’ attempts at reconciliation. By using the parenthesis he connects those failed attempts come the finish of the “hope the peace and reconciliation.”

25. Metonomy and synecdoche are special species of metaphors. In a metonomy, other strongly linked with an aspect is substituted for it (for instance, “The White House” is substituted because that “the President”). In a synecdoche, part of an facet substitutes because that the totality (for instance, “farm hands” means “farm laborers”). Find an instance of metonomy and synecdoche in this paragraph and identify what each represents.“The foot that the throne” (sentence 41) is metonomy, representing the King. “Tyrannical hand of the ministry and also Parliament” (sentence 40) is synecdoche, representing the brothers government.

26. Henry finishes this paragraph v an very nice one to logic in the kind of one “if… then” statement. What is the “if… then” declare in this paragraph?He says in sentence 44, “If we wish to it is in free… we have to fight”!

27. Henry build to a syllogistic argument, an appeal come logic, at the end of this paragraph. Determine the three parts of his syllogism (Major premise , boy premise , and Conclusion), citing proof from the text.

Major premise : We must either talk or struggle to attain results.Minor premise : talk does not accomplish results.Conclusion: Therefore, we need to fight to achieve results.

For more information about syllogisms, see knowledge Syllogisms

28. In this paragraph Henry offers emotional appeals, language intended to create an emotional an answer from the audience. Pick three instances of emotionally language indigenous excerpt 3. Girlfriend may choose words, phrases, imagery, or various other language elements. Because that each of her examples define how they space intended come arouse Henry’s audience.

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