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Narendran Sairam-Yale

March 28th, 2008

Mr. Richard (Nick) Noble
World History
'Patric Henry Speech' Essay
...give me liberty or give me death!

These were the words that came from Patrick Henry on March 23, 1775 as he stood at St. John's

Church in Richmond, Virginia and gave a speech to the House of Burgesses. Henry was the governor of

Virginia and a man of high position in the House whose views were a little different as compared to the

others in the House. He was lawyer by profession and was a very good speaker. As his speech points

out so well, he wants war and thinks that it is too late to hope for peace. He also Believes that there is

no choice anymore and that they are wasting time having this discussion. But if his words are carefully

studied, then one can say that he does not sound like a rebel or a blood-thirsty animal but someone

who really wants to make a difference.

At this period in time the House was unsure weather or not to send troops to defend themselves

from the approaching British army. When Henry finished saying his famous ending words the crowd

stood up and yelled “To arms! To arms!” This shows how good of an orator he was. In fact he was

know very well for the heated oratorical skills.

In this speech Henry seems extremely sincere and committed to saving his country. But he sees

the situation in a different way as he mentions in the beginning (“But different men often see the same

subject in different lights...”) He tries to persuade the House to send troops to defend against the

approaching British Army and he is very strong with his points. He says that he knows by “ the lamp of

experience” that the British are trying to annihilate them. He says “Let us not deceive ourselves, sir.

These are implements of war and subjugation; the last argument to which kings resort.”

He is also convinced that there is no other option left and that they have tried everything.

'We have petitioned, we have remonstrated, we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne,
and implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and parliament. Our petitions have been
slighted; our remonstration have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we
have been spurned with contempt from the foot of the throne.'
'There is no longer any room for hope.'
These words show desperation and longing for freedom and liberty. He really wants to crush the

British and be free. His tone shows anger and frustration of being denied and blocked every step of the

way. He believes that war is the only option now and there can no longer be peace or even hope of

peace as he says in the quote mentioned above. He even ventures to say that the war has actually


'Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no

retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war

is inevitable- and let it come! I repeat, sir , let it come!'

These words show how determined he is. He believes that there is no choice(election) and that it

is a now or never situation. His is indirectly saying, “If you are scared, this is not the place for you. If

you are think there will be no blood or no war, think again, my friend because you are wrong. And if

you believe that you would rather die than live a slave then you, my dear friend, are absolutely right.

War will come, like it or not.”

Even though he seems to be a little over dramatic, if one studies his speech well he or she can

deduce that he is in in fact very polite. He refers to the president as 'sir' and always refers to the

members of the House as 'gentlemen.' All these may have been the terms used in the eighteenth century

under normal conditions but by todays standards he seems to be extraordinarily polite.

By analyzing the speech of Sir Patric Henry one can conclude that he was a man of extreme

determination and that he played a very important role by guessing the moves of the British. All

through his speech he shows that he believes that they should prepare for war that has in his view

already begun. He also clearly states that peace is beyond hope and that retreat is no longer an option.

He says that no matter what effort they take, they will all be futile unless they rise up liberalize their

own nation and make sure that it does not fall into the hands of slavery. And finally he says; “I know

not what course other may take, but as for me give me liberty or give me death!”

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