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In order to avoid any interference from British troops, the Second Convention of approximately 120 delegates met in Richmond, Virginia, from March 20 through March 27.The American Colonies were attempting to negotiate with British in 1775, and many of Henry’s fellow delegates wanted to wait until these negotiations were completed before taking action.
The speech divides into the four parts of a classical argument, defined below.
As you analyze the individual parts of the speech, look also for how these parts of the argument work together. The first paragraph of classical argument, the exordium, seeks to engage the audience and prepare them to hear the speaker’s message.
The text of this speech is well known; less well known is the fact that there was no actual transcript created of Henry’s speech — after all, these discussions smacked of treason, and keeping a written record would have been dangerous.
In an environment of digital media and world-wide instant communication, students may wonder how Henry’s words were preserved.
His speech reflected language and actions far more radical that his fellow delegates were willing to go in public, but Henry based his request upon the assumption that even more aggressive military actions by the British would soon follow.
Twenty-seven days after this speech was delivered the Battles of Lexington and Concord proved Henry correct.
Henry used not only rhetorical devices but also the strategies of classical argument, making a potentially confusing situation simple and straightforward as he attempted to move all his fellow delegates toward the same result.
His recommendations were accepted by the Convention.
Give an example in this paragraph of an attempt to engage the audience and an example of an attempt to prepare the audience.
Henry seeks to engage his audience by showing his respect for them.