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A recently taken public opinion poll by Gallup found that nearly one in two American associate Patrick Henry with his heroic oratory.According to the poll results, he stands alongside Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt as one of the most inspiring public speakers in American history.In 1775 American independence was not a foregone conclusion.
His voice rose louder and louder, until the walls of the building, and all within them, seemed to shake and rock in its tremendous vibrations.
His last exclamation, ‘Give me liberty, or give me death!
This history speech first appeared in William Wirt’s biography in the year 1817 (Mayo, 1959).
This essay will examine the factors that motivated Patrick Henry to give this historic speech.
Patrick Henry, on the other hand, was not part of the pre-independence political establishment in America. The popular appeal of the person and his words is attributable to this heritage of Patrick Henry.
It is in this context that poet Lord Byron referred to Henry as ‘the forest-born Demosthenes’ (Eddlem, 1990).Men looked beside themselves.” (Mayo, 1959) Another historical fact that spurred Patrick Henry to deliver those memorable words was the refusal of the loyalists to abdicate their privileges under the British crown.Patrick Henry implored to the loyalists that the present state of American colonies is one of “humiliation under the iron heel of military despotism” (Tyler, 1898).’ was like the shout of the leader which turns back the rout of battle.It seemed as if a word from him would have led to any wild explosion of violence.Henry Stephens Randall, a clergyman, was present during Patrick Henry’s speech.He gives a first-hand account of the atmosphere during the speech.One of the reasons for popularity the speech and the folk hero status of its speaker emerges from his firebrand persona – he was not so much an intellectual as he was an impassioned leader of men.For example, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson – prominent founding fathers – were both prolific writers.While the speech can be used to investigate issues of freedom, power, and rights of the governed, this lesson focuses upon effective rhetoric.The speech includes several Biblical allusions — revolutionary rhetoricians often used Biblical references because it allowed them to speak more strongly against Britain without using overtly treasonous speech.