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    Henry's statement on colony's course of action

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    As tensions escalated between England and her American colonies, a young lawyer rose to speak to his fellow Virginians about the issues at hand. Patrick Henry's speech in March 1775 was a bold public statement of his opinions regarding the colony's course of action.

    Form a response to the speech using one or more of the following prompts:

    1) Henry's speech was a call to action. What did he want his fellow Virginians to do? What were his justifications for the proposed action? How did Henry address the concerns of those who did not agree with him?
    2) Slavery was a common theme in Henry's speech. What imagery did Henry use to illustrate his message? Why would those images have resonated so strongly with his audience?
    3) Throughout his speech, Henry referenced a variety of Biblical themes. What are some of the most striking references Henry used? Why would these themes have resonated with his audience?

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    Solution Preview

    Here is a copy of Henry's speech:
    What I'm going to do is give a brief approach to each question relative to the primary text. I also will give you sources that can help you with the secondary literature.

    Since the prompts are all closely connected topics anyway, they all can work together no matter which question you choose.

    Prompt 1
    First of all, this is a call to arms.
    It is a call to arms before British troops and ships arrive in America in greater numbers - hence, time is of the essence. Action must be taken now.

    The "holy cause" is that of liberty. Right is on the side of the colonists, and hence, God will give aid to their cause.
    If this cause is not fought for, then Americans would be "bound hand and foot." Hence, there are only two choices - war or slavery. He, of course, chooses war - a war that is sanctioned by the God who has constructed our persons, and hence, our freedom and rights. This is a matter of right and wrong, not of strength or weakness.

    Henry says,

    "There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the ...

    Solution Summary

    The expert examines Henry's statement on colony's course of actions.