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The most famous line is the last one: "Give me liberty or give me death!" (75). But why does Patrick Henry feel he's come to that point? (If you ask us, we'd rather have life and liberty. It's the best of both worlds, you know?)
Henry's main point, though, is that if the colonies want liberty from Great Britain, they're going to have to fight for it. They've tried and failed at every other means of gaining liberty, and British boots are on the ground. At this point, the only way out is through…which means Henry and his buddies could die fighting.
Oh, and if they survive a war but don't win it, they'll probably be executed as traitors. Yeesh.
Patrick Henry makes a compelling, logical argument for why the colonists must go to war.
Patrick Henry's argument for war is based in appeals to emotion and pride.
On March 23rd, 1775, at the Second Virginia Convention at St. John's Church in Richmond, Patrick Henry argued that a volunteer militia should be organized and armed in every county of Virginia to prepare to defend themselves from Great Britain.
Yeah; Henry wasn't big on tiptoeing around issues.
Henry opens with an acknowledgement of the men who disagree with him. He says he has mad respect for them, but that they're still wrong. The American colonies are facing some big challenges and if he didn't speak his mind, he'd feel like he was in the wrong.
Now we get into Henry's main point. Hoping for peace is great. Working for peace is great. Trying every diplomatic channel there is to achieve peace is great. However, the colonies have been trying all that for ten years, and it hasn't worked. Fighting for peace is the only way we're going to get it.
Sure, Henry says, the odds are against us. But the odds aren't going to get better if we sit around waiting. In fact, they're going to get worse.
Anyhow, we don't have a choice. If we want liberty, we're going to have to fight for it, and if we fight, we might die. But life without liberty is no way to live, so... give me liberty or give me death.
Patrick Henry lays out the hard truth: Great Britain isn't going to hand out liberty and respect until they have to. The colonists need to be willing to fight and die for it.