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Speeches of the American Revolution. “The Crisis, Number 1” “Speech in the Virginia Convention” “Common Sense”. The Crisis, Number 1. Thomas Paine. Thomas Paine. Arrived in America at age 37 His passage was paid by Ben Franklin, who called Paine and “ingenious, worthy young man.”

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speeches of the american revolution

Speeches of theAmerican Revolution

“The Crisis, Number 1”

“Speech in the Virginia Convention”

“Common Sense”

thomas paine
Thomas Paine
  • Arrived in America at age 37
  • His passage was paid by Ben Franklin, who called Paine and “ingenious, worthy young man.”
  • Only resided in America for 13 years yet wrote some of the most persuasive texts of the American Revolution
  • Paine proposed the name United States of America for the new nation.
thomas paine1
Paine's strength lay in his ability to present complex ideas in clear and concise form, as opposed to the more philosophical approaches of his Enlightenment contemporaries in Europe.Thomas Paine
thomas paine2
Thomas Paine

Significant Works

  • “Common Sense” (1776): pamphlet that advocated war against Britain (sold 120,000 copies in three months) “the most important pamphlet in American history.”
  • “The Crisis, Number One”: urged war against England; the first of 16 “Crisis” papers written between 1776-83.
the crisis number one
The Crisis, Number One
  • Paine composed the speech using a drum for a desk.
  • It was read aloud to discouraged soldiers during a retreat early in the war.
  • Morale was so restored that most soldiers reenlisted and six days later, the army had its first victory at Trenton
  • The essay was printed and given to every new recruit.
the crisis number one1
The Crisis, Number One
  • Paine compares the colonists’ situation to being enslaved.
  • Paine uses metaphor, aphorism, argument by analogy, anecdote, & rhetorical questions, to argue that the colonists have no choice but to wage war against Britain.
the appeals
The Appeals
  • Paine uses the three appeals:
  • Logos: logical appeal
  • Pathos: emotional appeal
  • Ethos: ethical appeal
the three appeals
The Three Appeals

Logos (logical appeal)

= the text

Pathos (emotional appeal)

= the audience

Ethos (ethical appeal)

= the author

rhetorical devices
Rhetorical Devices
  • Aphorism/Proverb: a brief statement (sometimes witty), usually only one sentence long, that expresses a general truth or clever observation about life.
  • “Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.” – John Wooden
  • “Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” – Confucius
  • “The best way out is always through” – Robert Frost
  • “You can’t steal second base and keep you r foot on first.” - anonymous
  • “An honest man can feel no pleasure in the exercise of power over his fellow citizens.” – Thomas Jefferson
rhetorical devices1
Rhetorical Devices

Parallel Structure/Parallelism:

  • Anaphora: the repetition of a word or words at the beginning of successive lines, clauses, or sentences.
  • Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world?
  • “Mad world! Mad kings! Mad composition!”
  • “for everything there is a season, and a time or matter under heaven; a time to plant, a time to pluck up what is planted

a time to be born, and a time to die…”(Ecclesiastes (3:1-2)

rhetorical devices2
Rhetorical Devices
  • Epistrophe: the repetition of a word or words at the end of successive lines, clauses, or sentences.
  • The cars do not sell because the engineering is inferior, the quality of materials is inferior, and the workmanship is inferior.
  • Hourly joys be still upon you!Juno sings her blessings on you. [. . .]Scarcity and want shall shun you,Ceres' blessing so is on you. — Shakespeare, The Tempest (4.1.108-109; 116-17)
  • We are born to sorrow, pass our time in sorrow, end our days in sorrow.
rhetorical devices3
Rhetorical Devices

Parallel Structure/Parallelism:

  • Asyndeton: the deliberate omission between a series of related clauses
  • “I came, I saw, I Conquered.”
  • “I went to the store, I grabbed the phone, I dialed.”
  • “the storm, stress, sound, fury.”
  • They spent the day wondering, searching, thinking, understanding.
rhetorical devices4
Rhetorical Devices

Parallel Structure/Parallelism:

  • Polysyndeton: the use of a conjunction between each word, phrase, or clause, and is thus structurally the opposite of asyndeton.
  • “The storm, and the stress, and the sound, and the fury.”
  • The water, like a witch's oils, / Burnt green, and blue, and white. --S. T. Coleridge
  • [He] pursues his way, / And swims, or sinks, or wades, or creeps, or flies. --John Milton
rhetorical devices5
Rhetorical Devices
  • Analogy: a point by point comparison between two things for the purpose of clarifying the less familiar of the two subjects.
  • You may abuse a tragedy, though you cannot write one. You may scold a carpenter who has made you a bad table, though you cannot make a table. It is not your trade to make tables. --Samuel Johnson
  • . . . For answers successfully arrived at are solutions to difficulties previously discussed, and one cannot untie a knot if he is ignorant of it. --Aristotle
rhetorical devices6
Rhetorical Devices
  • understatement: deliberately expresses an idea as less important than it actually is, either for ironic emphasis or for politeness and tact.
  • The 1906 San Francisco earthquake interrupted business somewhat in the downtown area.
  • Henry and Catherine were married, the bells rang, and everybody smiled . . . . To begin perfect happiness at the respective ages of twenty-six and eighteen is to do pretty well . . . . --Jane Austen
  • Last week I saw a woman flayed, and you will hardly believe how much it altered her person for the worse. --Jonathan Swift
  • Hitting that telephone pole certainly didn't do your car any good.
rhetorical devices7
Rhetorical Devices
  • epithet: an adjective or adjective phrase appropriately qualifying a subject (noun) by naming a key or important characteristic of the subject; can be an abusive insulting word or phrase
  • "laughing happiness," "sneering contempt," "untroubled sleep," "peaceful dawn,“ "lifegiving water."
the crisis number one2
The Crisis, Number One

Aphorisms Paine uses:

  • “These are the times that try men’s souls.”
  • “The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country.” (also alliteration, epithet)
the crisis number one3
The Crisis, Number One

Aphorisms Paine uses:

“Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered.” (also a simile)

“the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph; what we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly.”

“A noted one [Torie], who kept a tavern at Amboy…finished with this unfatherly expression, ‘Well! Give me peace in my day.’ Not a man lives on the continent but fully believes that a separation must some time or other finally take place, and a generous parent should have said, “If there must be trouble, let it be in my day that my child may have peace;” and this single reflection…is sufficient to awaken every man to duty.”

(anecdote; emotional appeal/pathos)

“…though the flame of liberty may sometimes cease to shine, the coal never can expire.” (metaphor)

“The heart that feels not now, is dead.” (metaphor)

“The blood of his children will curse his cowardice, who shrinks back at a time when a little might have saved the whole, and made them happy.”

(metaphor; emotional appeal: pathos)

“Tis the business of little minds to shrink…”


“My own line of reasoning is to myself as strait and clear as a ray of light.”


“Not all the treasures of the world, so far as I believe, could have induced me to support an offensive war, for I think it murder; but if a thief break into my house, burn and destroy my property, and kill or threaten to kill me, or those that are in it, and to “bind me in all cases whatsoever,” to his absolute will, am I to suffer it?”

(ethos; metaphor; argument by analogy; pathos; rhetorical question; allusion)

(Note on the Allusion: 1766: a Declaratory Act was introduced, asserting the authority of the King and Parliament to make laws which should "bind the colonies and people of America in all cases whatsoever!" )

“What signifies it to me, whether he who does it, is a king or a common man; my countryman or not my countryman? Whether it is done by an individual villain or an army of them? If we reason to the root of things we shall find no difference; neither can any just cause be assigned where we should punish in the one case and pardon in the other.”

(rhetorical question; argument by analogy; logos; parallel structure)

“…but I should suffer the misery of devils, were I to make a whore of my soul by swearing allegiance to one whose character is that of a *sottish, stupid, stubborn, worthless, brutish man.”

(metaphor, alliteration, allusion)


“The cunning of the fox is as murderous as the violence of the wolf; and we ought to guard equally against both.”

(simile; emotional appeal: pathos)

speech in the virginia convention1
“Speech in the Virginia Convention”
  • Patrick Henry was the most famous orator of the American Revolution.
  • He delivered this speech in March 1775 to the Second Virginia Provincial Convention.
  • The battles of Lexington & Concord took place less than a month after the speech.
patrick henry
Patrick Henry
  • “Call it oratory or what you will, but I never heard anything like it. He had more command over the passions than any man I ever knew.” – Thomas Jefferson
  • Henry opposed the Stamp Act
  • He helped draw up Virginia’s first state constitution & was elected Virginia’s first governor.
speech in the virginia convention2
“Speech in the Virginia Convention”
  • Henry uses various tropes (mainly metaphors), rhetorical questions, allusions (classical & Biblical) and parallel structure in the speech.
  • He uses the extended metaphor of slavery.
speech in the virginia convention3
“Speech in the Virginia Convention”
  • He uses the appeals of logos & pathos and establishes ethos
  • He acknowledges the opposing viewpoint (that a war against Britain is unwinnable) and refutes it effectively
rhetorical devices8
Rhetorical Devices
  • Allusion: an indirect reference to a person, place, event, or literary work with which the author believes the reader will be familiar.
  • The implied comparisons are intended to strengthen the writer’s argument.
rhetorical devices9
Rhetorical Devices
  • Rhetorical Question: a question to which no answer is expected because the answer is obvious.
  • Often used to emphasize a point or create an emotional effect.
acknowledgement refutation
Acknowledgement & Refutation
  • “Mr. President: No man thinks more highly than I do of the patriotism, as well as abilities, of the very worthy gentlemen who have just addressed the House. But different men often see the same subject in different lights.”

(metaphor; ethos)

“For my own part I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery.”

(simile) (pathos)

“Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty towards the majesty of heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.” (ethos)
“We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren, till she transforms us into beasts.”

(allusion – The Odyssey)

“Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty?

(rhetorical question; pathos)

“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?” (rhetorical question; parallel structure)
“For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth—to know the worst and to provide for it.”

(parallel structure: anaphora)

“I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided; and that is the lamp of experience.” (metaphor)
“Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received?” (rhetorical question; oxymoron)
  • “Trust it not, sir; it will prove a snare to your feet.”


“Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss.”

(allusion - Bible)

  • “Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation?”

(rhetorical question/logical appeal)

“Has Great Britain any enemy, in this quarter of the world, to call for all of this accumulation of navies and armies?” (rhetorical question/logical appeal)
“They are meant for us; they can be meant for no other. They are sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains which the British ministry have been so long forging.” (parallel structure: anaphora; metaphor; logical appeal)
“We have held the subject up in every light of which it is capable; but it has been all in vain. Shall we resort to humble supplication?”

(metaphor; rhetorical question)

“Sir, we have done everything that could be done to avert the storm which is now coming on.”


  • “We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne…”(parallel structure: anaphora)
“Our petitions have been slighted; our *remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne.”

(parallel structure: anaphora; metaphor)

*protests or complaints

“If we wish to be free—if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending—if we mean not basely to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained, we must fight! I repeat it sir, we must fight!” (parallel structure: anaphora)
“They tell us, sir, that we are weak—unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year?” (acknowledgement of opposing viewpoint & refutation; ethos; rhetorical question; logos)
“Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every home?”

(rhetorical question; emotional appeal: pathos)

“Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance, by lying supinely on our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot?”

(rhetorical question; metaphor; pathos, logos)

“Sir, we are not weak, if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us.”

(metaphor; logos; pathos; refutation)

“The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave.”

(parallel structure)

  • “There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable—and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come!”

(metaphor; emotional appeal: pathos; parallel structure)

“The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms!”


  • “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?”

(rhetorical question; metaphor)

“Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!”

(parallel structure; emotional appeal: pathos)

from common sense

from Common Sense

Thomas Paine

from common sense1
from Common Sense
  • “In the following pages I offer nothing more than simple facts, plain arguments and common sense…” (understatement)
  • “The sun never shined on a cause of greater worth.”
from common sense2
from Common Sense
  • “‘Tis not the affair of a city, a county, a province, or a kingdom, but of a continent—of at least one eighth part of the habitable globe. ‘Tis not the concern of a day, a year, or an age…”
“The least fracture now will be like a name engraved with the point of a pin on the tender rind of a young oak; the wound will enlarge with the tree, and posterity read in in full grown characters.”
“I have heard it asserted by some, that as America hath flourished under her former connection with Great Britain, that the same connection is necessary towards her future happiness, and will always have the same effect. Nothing can be more *fallacious than this kind of argument. We may as well assert that because a child has thrived on milk, that it is never to have meat, or that the first twenty years of our lives is to become a precedent for the next twenty.”

*erroneous or misleading

“But Britain is the parent country, say some. Then the more shame upon her conduct. Even brutes do not devour their young, nor savages make war upon their families…”
“This new world hath been the asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and religious liberty from every part of Europe. Hither have they fled, not from the tender embraces of the mother, but from the cruelty of the monster.”
“Every thing that is right or natural pleads for separation. The blood of the slain, the weeping voice of nature cries, “TIS TIME TO PART.”
“Even the distance at which the Almighty hath placed England and America, is a strong and natural proof, that the authority of the one, over the other, was never the design of Heaven.”