Patrick Henry

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What is an example of restatement (not repetition) in Patrick Henry's Speech to the Virginia Convention?

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Repetition is the literary or rhetorical device of repeating the same idea in the same—or almost the same—words in order to add emphasis or create a sense of rhythm. Restatement is, on the other hand, much closer to paraphrasing: it means conveying the same idea but in different words. Patrick Henry uses much restatement in his speech, perhaps because the text we have is reconstructed from notes.

One example of restatement in the speech is the following:

I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided; and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past.

In both sentences, Henry is conveying the same idea, which he will go on to develop at greater length in his speech: he will argue that history shows that the British never deal fairly or honorably with the colonists. He restates his opening idea in two very different ways above. In the first sentence he uses the colorful and concrete metaphor of the past ("experience") as a lamp lighting his way and guiding his path forward. We can visualize this. In the second sentence, he communicates the same idea: that we have to look to the past to predict the future, but this time he uses more abstract and concise language:

I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past.

In the second sentence, the same idea is restated in a different way. Whether or not Henry used as much restatement in his actual speech as has come down to us, this is an effective way to make a point.

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Early on in his speech, Henry defines the question of whether the United States ought to make war on Britain. He says that, for his part, he "consider[s] it nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery." Choosing to rebel and fight becomes equivalent to freedom, and choosing to continue to hope for British smiles and favor and fairness becomes equivalent to slavery. Henry threads this idea through the speech, restating his position on what it means if the colonists do not choose war.

He actually compares Britain to Judas Iscariot, the apostle who betrayed the innocent and virtuous Jesus (figured, here, as America) to the Romans, who eventually enslaved and executed Jesus. He restates again when he says, "There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston!" He restates the idea that war will equal freedom, in one form or another, and submission will equate to bondage.

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Patrick Henry's famous address to the Virginia Convention in which he displays his indomitable spirit stands as an example of superb oratory as Henry makes appeals to ethos, logos, and finally pathos

After his appeal to patriotism, Henry states that the question before the convention is one of freedom or slavery, a question that requires the freedom of debate.  In a restatement of the concept of debate, Henry contends,

It is only in this way [freedom of debate] that we can hope to arrive at truth, and full the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country.

 Henry expresses his concern that the representatives "indulge in the illusions of hope.  In a restatement of this idea, he alludes to The Odyssey and the Bible's Book of Ezekiel (12:2):

We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren...Is this the part of wise men?...who, having eyes, see not and having ears, hear not the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvations?

Henry appeals to the convention that if they wish to be free, they must fight. He states,

The battle sir is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave....There is no retreat, but in submission and slavery!

Then, Henry insists that the battle has already begun, restating that they must fight,

The war is actually begun!...Our brethren are already in the field!  Why stand we here idle!

The great statesman urges his listeners to act quickly, and not allow themselves to be subjugated to Great Britain.  Finally, Henry convinces many with his famous concluding appeal,

I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!

This final emotional appeal that demonstrates Henry's indomitable spirit is a most effective call to action.

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