The mind boggles at the idea of Patrick Henry delivering his brilliant extemporaneous speech. It was so eloquent that one refuses to believe Henry was speaking on his feet, but this fact cannot be refuted. He managed to find the right words in order to convince his fellow Virginians that a war was an inescapable, in the first place, and prudent thing to do, in the second. He vehemently induced Virginians to action through passionate calls for mobilization. He provided a plethora of convincing arguments to justify the Virginians launching a war. Having scrutinized the argumentation he fell back on, it would be fair to state that Henry was endowed with a unique gift of persuasion. He remonstrated at the idea of the British guards being stationed in every American house. He called on his fellow citizens to rule this ignominious possibility out by picking up the guns and fighting off the vainglorious enemy that had been terrorizing their motherland.
Nevertheless, he did not simply stirred up Virginians to sedition; he did it with a special gusto and in a cunning fashion. Henry encroached on the feelings of his addressees, namely a feeling of dignity, self-respect, audacity, and masculinity. He did it by calling people’s resolve and readiness to act into question.
“Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death”
Patrick Henry eloquently said that experience was the only factor worth being taken into consideration while judging intentions of the British. He inexorably threw all the grounds for confidence in the British leniency overboard. Again, his ardent manner of speech let his words have such a striking effect on the audience. However, it was not only fervor, but also an inflammatory mixture of coherence, zeal, confidence, and latitude of thought, to which he owed the success of his speech. For one may suggest, without any scruples, that Henry’s speech was an unmitigated success, at least in terms of what Mr. Henry himself desired it to be.
When Henry’s counterparts tried to ram down his throat with arguments that war was not imminent and hope still existed, he did not even deign to espouse this assertion seriously. He nipped such prospects in the bud, arguing that the Americans could not obediently tolerate sweeping waves of contempt on the part of the Great Britain any more.
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Popular frustration and oppression, inflicted by the overseas invaders, buttressed by the increasing presence of the British fleet near the shores of America borne out his claims that the king’s intentions should not be regarded as a benign virtue. Reconciliation was not included into the road map of the architects of Britain’s build-up in the immediate vicinity of continental America. In his opinion, it would have been an inconceivable folly to believe that the Americans could simply hope their way out of the problem. Mr. Henry fomented all those who had a penchant for firearms and the way they worked to close ranks with him in the holy crusade against the British subjugation. He did not fall down before the juggernaut of stern opposition to the Crown in name only; he was commissioned as colonel of the 1st Virginia Regiment into the bargain.
According to Kidd (2011), “Henry was known to have used a menace of Indian and slave revolts in promoting the military action against the British.” Henry’s speech was a plea to his fellow Virginians to wake them up to the looming threat of the British subjugation. He proceeded that the British had been long eating away at their right to self-determination, and it was high time to remedy this disgraceful state of affairs. Drastic measures were to be taken before Americans have not been exposed to the absolute dependence on” their senior sister” for good. In Henry’s words, the British did not even intend to obtrude this dependence on them under any disguise. They blatantly conspired to yoke Americans.
Henry properly utilized his intellectual sinews to make appropriate expressions that would farther fuel seditious sentiments among his compatriots. He wanted his fellow Virginians dedicated to the military opposition to the Great Britain. To this end, Mr. Henry arduously traversed the fate that could befall America in case they did not take necessary measures immediately. Of course, America was already a home to the hydra-headed slavery, but it was a different kind of submission that he was talking about; the one, which could trigger the “slavery within slavery.” Henry’s speech was meant to elicit more antipathy towards the British, which, he knew, would result in drastic measures being taken.
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It would be surprising were Henry not to have resorted to the Bible in order to inspire the addressees of his speech. He wanted them struck by a bout of optimism and patriotism, and, undoubtedly, there was no better decision than to invoke the blessing of God. He addressed his counterparts with words, “Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself guilty of an act of disloyalty toward the majesty of heaven, which I revere above all the earthly kings”. However, the most striking moment is when Henry expresses his willingness to accept death as an alternative to freedom, lest only not get bogged down in the British slavery.
Many considered Patrick Henry a warmonger, who plotted in a cloakroom; nevertheless, he proved to be a recalcitrant patriot, whose vocation was to tackle British influence. Seldom in American history did necessity and fear tug in such different directions, but the reluctance to act could have had severe repercussions.