Speech In The Virginia Convention Thesis Statement

Presentation on theme: "Consider the following prompt: Little question: What strategies is he using to increase his effectiveness? Read the following speech delivered by Patrick."— Presentation transcript:

1 Consider the following prompt: Little question: What strategies is he using to increase his effectiveness? Read the following speech delivered by Patrick Henry at the Virginia Convention in 1775. Then write a well-organized essay in which you discuss the rhetorical strategies Henry employs to achieve his purpose. In your analysis, consider such strategies as: organization, diction, syntax, imagery, and figurative language. Big question: What purpose is Patrick Henry trying to achieve?

2 Writing a thesis statement: As you construct this sentence, you should make sure the independent, or main clause refers to the purpose and the subordinate clause refers to author’s technique [this keeps the BIG question BIG]. Consider a template like this: In his speech at the Virginia convention, Patrick Henry ____________________________________________________ ______________________________________[identify purpose] by/through __________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ _______________________ [specific reference to his strategies]. NOW YOU TRY!

3 How do these look? Notes – does not contain a reference to purpose – basically repeats the prompt without specificity + articulates Henry’s purpose – does not include a reference to method + refers to both purpose and method – “blueprints” vague devices [copied from prompt] – purpose statement is not in the main clause + begins with a reference to purpose [asserts that the time has come… to fight…] + makes reference to overall method [reminding…confronting...] ­+ does not necessarily “blueprint” devices + includes precise language Thesis statements In his speech at the Virginia convention, Patrick Henry uses diction, organization, and figurative language to achieve his purpose. In his speech at the Virginia convention, Patrick Henry uses multiple strategies to argue that it is time for Americans to fight for their freedom. In his speech at the Virginia convention, Patrick Henry uses diction, organization, and figurative language to argue that it is time for Americans to fight for their freedom. In his speech to the Virginia Convention in 1775, Patrick Henry argues that Americans have no choice but to take up arms against the British by reminding the country’s leaders of their failed attempts at securing peace and liberty in the past and by confronting them with their current position of danger in the face of the inevitable British invasion.

4 Organizing your essay: Organized by Purpose* I. Introduction Provide brief context of the scene TAG [Title, author, genre] Thesis / Purpose Statement II. Purpose One [topic sentence] Example of device #1 [3-5 sentence chunk] Example of device #2 [3-5 sentence chunk] Concluding sentence III. Purpose Two [topic sentence] Example of device #1 [3-5 sentence chunk] Example of device #2 [3-5 sentence chunk] Concluding sentence IV. Conclusion Revisit the BIG question [purpose] Provide universal insight Organized by Device I. Introduction Provide brief context of the scene TAG [Title, author, genre] Thesis / Purpose Statement II. Device One [topic sentence] Example of device #1 + purpose [3-5 sentence chunk] Example of device #2 + purpose [3-5 sentence chunk] Concluding sentence III. Device Two [topic sentence] Example of device #1 + purpose [3-5 sentence chunk] Example of device #2 + purpose [3-5 sentence chunk] Concluding sentence IV. Conclusion Revisit the BIG question [purpose] Provide universal insight Your essay should have an introduction, at least two body paragraphs, and some sort of concluding statement. Here are some options for organizing your essay: *Essays organized by purpose are generally more successful at keeping the BIG question in focus.


This speech, delivered on March 23, 1775, is of course full of emotional appeals, which were very much in keeping with Henry's rhetorical style. He began by characterizing the affairs confronting the committee as "events of awful moment," "a question of freedom or slavery," and of course concluded with his memorable phrase, "give me liberty or give me death!" So he was certainly employing pathos in his speech. But he also, as did many of...

This speech, delivered on March 23, 1775, is of course full of emotional appeals, which were very much in keeping with Henry's rhetorical style. He began by characterizing the affairs confronting the committee as "events of awful moment," "a question of freedom or slavery," and of course concluded with his memorable phrase, "give me liberty or give me death!" So he was certainly employing pathos in his speech. But he also, as did many of his contemporaries, made an argument about the logical conclusion of British actions, one which suggested that "the conduct of the British ministry of the last ten years" offered no evidence that they would be responsive to anything but armed resistance. He claimed that the British had no interest in compromise, and that conciliatory appeals would do nothing but embolden the British:

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. In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope.

Even worse, Henry claimed that these actions, especially the dispatching of troops to Massachusetts, pointed logically toward the total subjugation of the American people:

I ask, gentlemen, sir, what means this martial array, if its purpose be not to force us to submission? ...They are meant for us; they can be meant for no other. They are sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains which the British ministry have been so long forging.

So while the tone of the entire speech is strident, even shrill, and it is no doubt full of emotional appeals, Henry also based his argument on a certain logic. The Americans, he argued, were no longer in a position where compromise had a hope of success. 

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