In Patrick Henry’s “Speech in the Virginia Convention”, he conveys his reason to declare war against the British and gain freedom for America, and he persuades the colonists by using two persuasive techniques: repetition and rhetorical question. Repetition is one technique Henry uses to persuade his audience to declare war against England.
Repetition is the repeating of the same words or phrases multiple times for emphasis; it gets the phrases stuck into the audience’s heads and influences their decisions. One example of repetition in Henry’s speech is “—we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight!” (Henry 205). He stresses how they colonists pledged themselves to never abandon their land and never allow anyone to take it from them previously in the paragraph. Henry emphasized that they must fight to keep their promise to the land and to the people and knows that his words will influence the people’s decision. Another example of repetition is “— and let them come! I repeat it, sir, let them come” (Henry 206). Here, Henry uses this quote in the context of how war will be unavoidable whether the British declare war or they take matters into their own hands.
He wants them to realize that there will be war no matter the situation and they will not be prepared to fight if they do not plan on declaring war. By using his examples of repetition, Henry influences the colonists’ decisions on going to war against the British. Rhetorical question is another persuasive technique Patrick Henry uses in his “Speech in the Virginia Convention” to persuade the people to go to war against the British. Rhetorical question is a question that is asked but is not answered; it is used to have people ponder on the questions on their own and eventually scare them into caving in with many unfavorable situations the human mind provides, especially with the tone Henry communicates to the audience with. Henry uses a sort of scare tactic to persuade the people to make a move and declare war before they are invaded by surprise: “And what have we to oppose to them? Shall we try argument? – Have we anything new to offer upon the subject? – Shall we resort to entreaty and humble supplication? What terms shall we find which have not been already exhausted?” (Henry 204). Here, Henry asks the audience of the Virginia Convention about how they would avoid war with the British and still keep the freedom they have now without becoming more enslaved to Britain.
Again, Henry uses rhetorical question to scare the people and persuade them to declare war: “But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week,or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed,and when a British guard shall be stationed in everyhouse? Shall we gather strength by irresolution andinaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectualresistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall havebound us hand and foot?” (Henry 205). Here, Henry tells the people that if they do not act now, they will be taken by surprise by the British and become enslaved. Henry persuades them to act now and not wait to fight for their freedom unless they do not want freedom at all. Rhetorical question is an effective persuasive technique for Henry because it makes the audience ponder about the situation and scares them into choosing to declare war against Britain. Patrick Henry emphasizes his reason to declare war and gain freedom for America by persuading his audience by using repetition and rhetorical questions in his “Speech in the Virginia Convention.”