Thomas Paine versus Patrick Henry

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In 1775 the american colonies are divided between those loyal to England and those that desire independence. Many colonists will speak up for separation during this time, but two of these really stand out: “The Crisis, Number One” and “The Speech in the Virginia Convention” While Thomas Paine inspires the crowd with his aphorisms and rhetorical devices in “The Crisis, Number One,” Patrick Henry more powerfully inflicts a desire for separation in his clamant “Speech in the Virginia Convention.”

To begin, Thomas Paine uses strong aphorisms like “The harder the conflict the more glorious the triumph.” This is used to excite the audience and instill courage in the people that he is attempting to recruit. He is able to inspire the crowd by cleverly stating how great the triumph will be in a memorable way. Likewise, Paine effectively uses pathos, “A generous parent should have said, ‘If there must be trouble let it be in my day, that my child may have peace.’” This section is intended to make the audience feel the necessity to fight out of guilt because they don’t want to have to make their children fight. It makes the fathers ashamed that they are not fighting and therefore creates a desire for separation. Finally, Paine uses appeal to authority in his simile: “I’m as confident, as I am that God governs the world that America will never be happy till she gets clear of foreign dominion.” He references God, and since there is a large majority of Christians in the audience, they can relate and his point seems more valid since he is in agreeance with God.

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Similar to Paine, Patrick Henry in his “Speech in the Virginia Convention,” uses rhetorical devices to inflict a desire for separation. He starts his speech by saying, “No man thinks more highly than I do of the patriotism, as well as abilities, of the very worthy gentlemen who have just addressed the House.” He is using logos here in trying to relate to the audiences admiration for patriotism thereby establishing himself as credible and logical. The audience will now be more receptive to his unpopular ideas due to the effective use of logos. Next, Henry exclaims, “Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace– but there is no peace. The war is actually begun!” He is trying to use exigence to express to the audience the urgency of the situation. This instills a sense of fear and the necessity to prepare for war. Finally, Henry ends his speech with the well known aphorism, “I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” His use of periodic structure in this aphorism makes it the most well known part of his speech, and it will linger in the mind of the audience.

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Thomas Paine versus Patrick Henry. (2021, Aug 31). Retrieved from

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