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Comparison Of Thomas Paine And Patrick Henry: Revolutionary Tract

1041 words - 4 pages

The 1770s proved to be a time of much chaos and debate. The thirteen colonies, which soon gained their independence, were in the midst of a conflict with Great Britain. The colonies were suffering from repeated injuries and usurpations inflicted upon them by the British. As a result of these inflictions, Thomas Paine and Patrick Henry addressed these injustices, and proved to be very persuasive through providing reasoning and evidence that moved many colonists to believe that to reach contentment and peace the colonies had to rid themselves of British rule. Henry and Paine were successful in swaying their audience, not only because of the rhetorical strategies used, but also because they were passionate about the cause they were committed to.
Both Paine and Henry tried to push for support against Great Britain and motivate the colonists to side with the revolutionaries. Both felt obligated to stand up for their unalienable rights and the good of the nation, and this is most evident when Henry declared that he had to speak up, or "[he] should consider [him]self as guilty of treason towards [his] country, and of an act of disloyalty towards the majesty of heaven [...]" (Henry 232). Henry conveniently made a reference to God, which strengthened his argument, because people were decidedly religious. Both agree that compromise with Great Britain was not a solution, logically noting that it had been ineffective in the past. Unlike Henry, however, Paine uses his own experiences to strengthen his argument, especially when he describes his participation in the army under the command of General George Washington.
Paine's diction and the imagery, portraying the time he spent in the army provided in his pamphlet, The American Crisis, only proved that Great Britain would go to all ends to ensure that the colonies would stay under its administration. Such descriptions of what the British army would push its limits to, such as sending over 200 boats, possibly frightened the colonists to believe that Great Britain's power was overwhelming (Paine par. 5). It was strategically interwoven into Paine's argument to establish his credibility and inform the audience that he knew what he was dealing with. The colonists who had not yet sided with the forces fighting for independence might have begun to question their positions. What else were the British capable of doing if they won the war? Would it not be better to fight so that the British had a lesser chance of winning? Paine's intentions, through providing his account, were to arouse the public to action and trigger men to enlist.
Henry, on the other hand, does not use his own experience, but make many logical arguments, and he points out many things that could cause a colonist to finally open his or her eyes and see the situation for what it really was. Henry used process analysis when he came up with the conclusion: "They are meant for us; they can be meant for no other" (Henry 232). He is clearly providing a...

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