Patrick Henry's Speech
Autor: micheleok • December 8, 2012 • Essay • 913 Words (4 Pages) • 1,252 Views
Patrick Henry was an American patriot who strongly believed in the rights of the colonies to govern themselves. He was elected to the House of Burgesses, the lawmaking body of Virginia, in 1765 where he became a spokesman for the colony's independence from England. Along with 119 other delegates, he was in attendance at the Second Virginian Convention at St. John's Church in Richmond. This meeting quickly turned into a debate on whether the Virginia colonists should arm themselves to defend against any possible attacks by the British Army.
England had a paternalistic attitude towards the colonies, and did not treat the colonists as equals. The colonists longed for a day when they would have the same rights as the British; however many of the delegates at the convention did not want to stir things up with Britain. Instead, they wanted to take conciliatory actions, and retain their colonial status with Britain. During this convention, on March 23, 1775, Patrick Henry delivered his famous "Give me liberty or give me death!" speech in hopes of persuading the delegates to prepare for battle against England.
Patrick Henry's speech was a call to action. Many colonists did not want to oppose England. They instead wanted to reconcile with Britain. Patrick Henry told them that they could never be free under the rule of the British government when he asserted that the British Army was "sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains which the British ministry have been so long forging."
Patrick Henry's filled with biblical allusions, which compelled the colonists to heed his advice and listen to what he was saying. The people of Virginia were divided on the issue of fighting the British. Some were for independence and American freedom, while others wanted to maintain their colonial relationship with their motherland. Since Patrick Henry knew the Virginians were devoutly religious, he used scripture references in his famous speech to return his divided audience to a common ground. While political opinions might have differed, everyone agreed on Christ.
In the third paragraph of the speech, Henry talked about being able but unwilling to see the reality of what was happening. This theme is in several scriptures in both the Old and New Testament. For example, Jeremiah 5:21 states "Now hear this, O foolish and senseless people, Who have eyes who do not see: Who have ears who do not hear" and Mark 8:18 states "Having eyes, do you not see? And having hears, do you not hear? And do you not remember?" Henry included this scriptural idea to inform the colonists that they needed to be aware of what has about to transpire and, more importantly, stop living in denial. Britain was preparing for battle. The colonists should do the same. In his speech Henry asserted that the Virginians would certainly lose their "temporal salvation,"2 or liberty, if they did not see