In 1775, Patrick Henry made his speech to an audience of Virginia legislators to convince them that Virginia should join the War of Independence. Identify and discuss three main points Henry uses to support his argument. Then, explain why these points were appropriate to convince his audience to join the war.

One main point seems to be precedent. According to Patrick Henry, the British have always mistreated them. There’s no reason to suspect that they will start treating the colonies more justly in the future. A second key point is community. Henry talks about the war effort as if the colonies are a family. A third prominent point is freedom. He seems intent on convincing the audience that they are fighting for their liberty.

Expert Answers

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As you might already know, there is no authoritative record of Patrick Henry’s rather famous 1775 speech. There are no known transcripts or notes of his speech. What we know about his speech comes from his biographer William Wirt. The main points might be Henry’s, they might be Wirt’s, or they might be a combination of the two.

With that caveat out of the way, let’s start to identify the possible primary arguments.

One central argument seems to be precedent. As Henry says, “I know of no way of judging the future but by the past.” The past, according to Henry, indicates that England will continue to mistreat the colonies unless they are forcefully put down.

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 1086 words.)

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