Patrick Henry speech to declaration of independence Essay Example
Patrick Henry speech to declaration of independence Essay Example

Patrick Henry speech to declaration of independence Essay Example

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  • Pages: 3 (779 words)
  • Published: July 28, 2016
  • Type: Analysis
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Standing as the dominating power in the world today, America is the quintessence of democracy and ultimate resort of political freedom. The birth of this young, yet magnificent nation all began with a single unified will for independence and liberty of its people. 200 Years ago, the American Revolution was empowered and marked by impassionate speeches like Patrick Henry’s “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” and proclamation like “The Declaration of Independence”. Henry’s speech is a personal persuasive oration; Jefferson’s declaration a legal document.

Although the two writings have different purposes and adopted different rhetorical devices, they approach numerous arguments similarly and are both fundamental literature instruments in achieving the same goal of American liberation. The voices in the two pieces of writing speak through different perspectives as they have different formats and are


targeted at different audience. The speech at Virginia Convention delivers through Henry’s personal insight as he states, “I shall speak forth my sentiments freely and without reserve”.

By emphasizing “I” and “my”, the opinions in the speech are identified to be Henry’s individual thinking. Henry wisely chooses to verify this possession as his ideas and proposals are not official and entirely accepted by people. This indicates that the speech is persuasive and also humbly acknowledges the adversaries. The Declaration of Independence on the other hand, speaks for the “Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled” and for “one people”.

Compare to the personal perception in Patrick Henry’s speech, the use of worldly pronouns in the declaration confirms the certainty and authority of its content. Instead of being persuasive, it simply demonstrate

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the concluded decision that all Americans came to agree to. Written in diverse time and circumstance, the two pieces of writing also differ in the rhetorical devices each commonly employs. In his speech, Henry frequently asks questions like, “Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation?” and “shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction”, to persuade his audience of his ideas.

The rhetorical questions do not search for an answer as much as it tries to evoke thinking. Facing doubtful listeners at his time, Henry conveys his view through interrogation that allows unconvinced officials to reevaluate their judgments. On the contrary, The Declaration of Independence uses parallelism to claim, “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and happiness”, and attesting the readers of its beliefs.

Since ending colonial ties with Britain is already the verdict, the Declaration does not need to persuade its audience of this decision. The repeating structure of clauses resonates America’s ideals and establishes them with assurance to the King of England and the world. In spite of the differences in the authors’ utilization of rhetorical devices, the two contain alike approaching strategies to support their common interest in the autonomy of American colonies. Both writings borrow examples of past British mistreatments and hostility to provide for America’s need to break off and become independent.

Patrick Henry reminds his listeners, “Our supplications have been disregard”, “with contempt, from the foot of the throne”, and Jefferson mentions in the Declaration that “Our repeated petitions have been answered only by

repeated injury”. The mutual appeal to ethos, judging from British behaviors in the past, suggests that America chose to disconnect harshly because of the neglect and lack of cooperation that they are receiving from the King. These evidences of Britain’s oppression of American affairs prove the necessity for a cease of ties between the colonies and Britain.

Furthermore, the speech and declaration both captures patriotism through which both authors express their will to sacrifice with honor for liberation. Henry draws an end to his speech as he affirms, “I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death! ” Similarly, the Declaration ends as America “pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor”. This approach to celestial morals testifies the significance of American independence. Through powerful words, both authors demonstrate fixed desire from themselves, and from the ones their voices represent.

Patrick Henry’s speech and Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence were written at different times for different purposes, but both uphold the same struggle for one people’s welfare and freedom. Although exploiting multitude of different rhetoric and writing tactics, both writings seize the authors’ and America’s utmost determination and prudence in times of adversity. And it is from this united force of strong-will and resolve arises this prosperous country of freedom and intellect.

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