Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death
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Patrick Henry gave his speech, Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!, to the Virginia House of Burgess in Richmond, Virginia on March 23, 1775. He wanted his fellow Virginians to, in the spirit of true patriotism, rise up, organize a militia, and take a stand against the threat of British tyranny overpowering their very God-given liberties and freedoms as human beings. Henry justified his proposed actions with having every person ask themselves questions such as, “And what have we to oppose to them? Shall we try argument? Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years.” To address concerns from those who did not agree with him, Henry reiterates the fact that we had tried everything else in our power, aside from calling all men to fight to keep their liberties.
Henry started his speech with, what can clearly be observed as, a warning that he would not be holding back any thought that he had. His desire was to motivate and inspire his fellow Virginians to feel the fire of unjustice the way he did. The sheer thought of losing his freedom, to be a slave to any man, made Henry almost mad with rage. With statements like, “Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation?” and “Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received? Trust it not, sir; it will prove a snare to your feet. Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss.”, he almost begged his audience to wake up and realize what was going on around them, to open their eyes and see just how much of their freedom was slowly being taken away from them. Henry wanted his words to anger and move his audience enough to open their minds to the raw truth that was staring them straight in the face.
During his speech, Henry made many justifications to his proposed actions. The main point he brought up was the fact that we had tried talking and arguing to get our point across, to no avail. “What terms shall we find which have not been already exhausted? Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves.” He whole-heartedly believed that we had done everything in our power to stop the oncoming storm. Since we could not stop the storm, Henry said we needed to prepare and arm ourselves for the first strike. “If we wish to be free; if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending. we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of hosts is all that is left us!” In the eyes of Henry, the time for hope was over.
To those who did not agree with Henrys view, he addressed their concerns, again, by stating that we had done everything in our power to prevent a war, but that the war had already begun. He broke apart the rumors that we were weak and not able to successfully combat such a formidable adversary.