List at least three logos appeals that Patrick Henry uses in his "Speech to the Virginia Convention" and explain what they mean.

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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A logos in rhetoric is an appeal to an audience where the appeal is based on reason or logic (not emotion).  Here are some examples from this speech:

At the start of the speech, he says why he should speak his mind clearly.  This is an important topic he says, and the openness of the debate should be equal to the importance of the situation.

Second, he argues that the British government clearly means to suppress them.  He says there are no enemies of Britain near.  Therefore, the military forces the British have sent must be meant to suppress the colonists.

Finally, he argues that the colonists should fight now.  He says that they may be weak now, but they will not get any stronger.

All of these are arguments that are based, at least partly, on logic and reason.

rmhope's profile pic

rmhope | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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Logos appeals are appeals to logic or reason. They include deductive or inductive reasoning, cause and effect relationships, facts, and statistics. Here are some of the logos appeals Patrick Henry used in his "Speech to the Virginia Convention":

"I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past." Here Henry uses inductive reasoning--using examples from past observation--to argue that Britain was not going to suddenly start treating the colonies better. What the colonies had observed in Britain was going to continue; the colonies' entreaties would continue to be ignored.

"Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation?" Here Henry uses cause and effect reasoning. If Britain was planning to reconcile with the colonies, ships containing soldiers would not be required. Only a plan for continued domination and suppression of the colonies would have prompted Britain to send more soldiers on more boats.

"What terms shall we find which have not been already exhausted?" Henry uses some deductive reasoning here. He states that they have tried every possible peaceful solution. The reasoning goes like this: If we cannot reach a peaceful solution with Britain, we will have to have a non-peaceful solution. We have not been able to reach a peaceful solution; therefore, we must go to war. 

"Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us." Finally, Henry brings facts and statistics to support his argument. Although some have said the colonies were too weak to fight against Britain, he notes that they have a potential force of 3 million. He further suggests that other countries may come to the colonies' aid.

Although Henry's speech is notable for its great pathos (emotional) appeals, he also uses logos appeals very effectively. 


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