What is a main point in the second paragraph of the "Speech to the Virginia Convention" by Patrick Henry?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The second paragraph of Henry's speech examines the context within which the inherent resistance to Colonial change is evident.  For Henry, there is a contingent of individuals that are unwilling to embrace change in the affairs of the colonies with England.  Henry sees a group that is unwilling to accept the need for change or a group that does not see the issue of tyranny at hand.  For Henry, this is phrased in a variety of manners.  Henry suggests that this sense of denial is an intrinsic part of being human:

Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? 

Henry's opening to the second paragraph provides the basis for the inherent problem existing in the Colonies at the time period.  At the same time, Henry counters this by suggesting that he wants to know "the whole truth" no matter how difficult it might be.  In concluding the second paragraph in this light, Henry makes it clear that there is a larger truth of independence and tyranny that is at stake in articulating the state of British control over Colonial affairs. The more open one is to addressing such a situation, the better the chance one understands the true nature of the condition of being.


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