Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Patrick Henry

Patrick Henry's speech uses a lot of typical rationalist style in it. He appeals to listeners reason and intelligence, and a good deal to their emotions too. The reader can really tell how much the issue matters to Patrick Henry because he works so hard to make his point, and if someone else cares so much about this issue, it makes the person who reads about it care a lot more too. I think that the rationalist style is really what made Patrick Henry's speech so moving.

One thing that is very apparent in his speech is his use of reason to bring people to his line of thought. When he talks about all of the English soldiers in America he makes a very good point. A person may not really think about it at first, but Patrick Henry asks what could the soldiers really be there for except to force the Americans into doing what the king wanted (Henry 117). For any given action, the motives are not often very much considered (except in national politics and in relationships, where it seems that the only thing that really matters is the motive behind the action). Patrick Henry also makes a really good point when he is convincing the colonists not to wait to fight. He asks whether the colonies will get stronger or weaker with waiting around for the English to do something really enraging and dastardly (Henry 118). This probably made the delegates give another thought or two to their own opinions.

Despite all of his appeals to reason, Patrick Henry uses every sentence and every noun, verb, and adjective to appeal to the other delegates' emotions. He uses really harsh words and the imagery in the speech makes the English out to be suspicious people who would force the colonists into doing something harmful without listening to the colonists input. It is no wonder that with an impression like this the colonists would want very much to fight for their independence. I would not like living under such a government either. The mixture of Rationalism and emotion makes me think of Deism. Deism was a religion, and yet a good many rationalists were Deists. Despite how wonderful and perfect reason is, we are all still humans, and thus we all have emotions. It is impossible to have reason with no emotion. Religion is a very emotional thing, so it does not surprise me that the rationalists had a religion, and likewise that emotion plays a role in this rational argument.

I think that Patrick Henry and others who reasoned like him must have played a huge role in the American revolution. In history class we talked about how the Americans felt very English themselves after the Seven Years War, so it must have taken so very good solid reasoning to get the popular support for the revolution. Over all I think that the rationalists were solid people and that Deism has quite a bit of merit to it, and if I was not so darn Catholic I would probably consider looking into it a lot more than I already have.

Henry, Patrick. "Speech to the Second Virginia Convention." Comp. Jeffrey D. Wilhelm, Ph.D. and Douglas Fisher, Ph.D. Glencoe Literature. American Literature ed. Columbus: McGraw-Hill Companies, 2009. 97-99. Print.

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