Persuasive Pat

In Patrick Henry’s address “Speech in the Virginia Convention,” he uses the persuasive techniques ethos and pathos and the rhetorical devices repetition and rhetorical questions to encourage his fellow colonists to rebel against England and go to war. He uses the ethical appeal ethos to try and get people to relate to the moral principles concerning why they must revolt. By saying, “It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at the truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country,” Henry is trying to convey to the people why it is their duty and responsibility to God and to themselves to stop the unfair treatment they were receiving from England (Henry 203). He then uses repetition to further encourage his idea that it is the colonist’s moral responsibility to fight by saying, We have petitioned, we have remonstrated, we have supplicated, we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and parliament. Our petitions have been slighted, our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult, our supplications have been disregarded, and we have been spurred with contempt from the foot of the throne (Henry 203).

He proclaims this statement to show they have tried beyond all means to get England to treat them as citizens. They have tried to be ethical and follow moral principles, and now the only option left is to fight for freedom. Both of these quotes are examples of how he used his persuasive talents and rhetorical devices to convince the colonists of America to fight for their independence. Patrick Henry then encourages the colonists to rebel by using pathos and rhetorical questions to persuade his audience to consider on an emotional level why they should sacrifice their lives to fight. He appeals to the emotional side of the people by describing how “They are meant for us; they can be meant for no other,” explaining that England was meant for them in such a way that they were destined for independence (Henry 204). By appealing to their emotional sides he can connect more with his audience, and later when he says, “Give me liberty or give me death!” he is placing himself at the level of the common colonist (Henry 206).

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He then uses rhetorical questions such as, ” Is this the part of wise men engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty?” to get the colonists to wonder about the importance and need for a revolution and to contemplate why they should fight (Henry 203-204). He uses this declaration to put ideas in their heads, so they think about what rights they deserve as basic human beings. All in all, Patrick Henry uses pathos and ethos and rhetorical devices to convey his message to the colonists to get them to stand up and fight for their cause, one in which he was willing to die for.