transparent portrait of Patrick Henry superimposed on an American flag

Speech to the Virginia Convention

by Patrick Henry
Start Free Trial

What are Patrick Henry's reasons for wanting to rebel against the British rule?

Henry feels that the best chance for the colony to achieve independence is to go to war with Britain. He does not think that negotiating with them will help, and he believes it would be better for the colony to suffer a separation from Britain than to continue under their rule.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Patrick Henry's chief argument in the "Speech in the Virginia Convention" is that it would be futile for the Virginia Colony to try to negotiate any further with the British.  He reminds his audience that "we have been trying that for the last ten years."  Although the speech has many strong appeals to various emotions, Henry also very logically recites the strategies the colony has already tried: "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."  He then reminds his listeners what Britain's response has been: "Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne."

Henry does not believe that there is any reason to think that the colony's relationship with Britain will improve.  Trade will continue to be restricted, taxes will be crippling, the threat of violence against the colony will be constant, and the colony will not have a voice in Parliament.  In Henry's view, the only way the desired changes will come is if the colony separates from Britain.  Henry is trying to convince his audience that the only way to achieve independence is through a declaration of war.  

 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team