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The Second Virginia Convention was held at St. John’s Church in Richmond on March 23, 1775. Patrick Henry argued that a volunteer mercenary should be organized and armed in every county of Virginia to defend themselves from Great Britain. Henry was a straight to the point type of guy. Henry opens with an acknowledgement to the men who disagree with him. He says he has mad respect for them, but that they’re still wrong. The American colonies were facing some difficulties and if he didn’t speak his mind, he’d feel like he was in the wrong. Now to Henry’s main point. Hoping for 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 they’re going to get it.
They don’t have a choice. If they want liberty, they’re going to have to fight for it, and if they fight, they 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. 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.
Henry addresses his speech to the president of the convention, Peyton Randolph. They hear some compliments to those who disagree with Henry and think more diplomacy is needed before taking up arms. He says they’re cool guys. Then Henry says they’re wrong…and that, if he didn’t say something, he’d be in the wrong too. e criticized war and all the acts of Great Britain which claimed that they were done for love. The orator believed otherwise. Britain as he said was treating them as subordinates and not as equals. It has been leeching into their country and Americans have had no choice from the very start. Argument and peaceful disagreement had saved them none in the past years. Allowing themselves to be underdogs, meanwhile, was simply a shame to their parts.
In his speech Henry had convinced Virginia that all the acts they had done to achieve peace had not worked, is not working and will never work. The solution he saw was to fight, and to fight not soon but now. The battle, as he said, was to be strong, alert, active and bold with God on their side. From everything that had happened, he foresaw war coming and instead of fear, he encouraged his brothers to embrace it. He ended his famous speech with the equally famous quote, “I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” The audience welcomed his speech with the same cry.
Henry knows “They” say the American colonies aren’t strong enough to take on Great Britain. But he also knows it’s not like the colonies are getting any stronger sitting around thinking about it. And it’s not like they’ll be any stronger if they just wait around for Great Britain to get its forces all over the place. Henry thinks if the colonists use their resources wisely, they’ll be okay. Cue “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now!” Anyhow, God’s on the side of the colonists. Henry throws shade at the other members of the convention. He ends with the most famous colonial mic drop: give me liberty or give me death.
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