Let me first say that it is abundantly clear that Mr. Henry was one long winded dude!
posted on 01/20/2011 8:12:54 AM PST
("It is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere." Voltaire)
Unfortunately, he was right.
posted on 01/20/2011 8:21:57 AM PST
(Brutal acts of commission and yawning acts of omission both strengthen the hand of the devil.)
Oration is completely different when it comes to analysis, too. Where both Federalist and anti-Federalist tracts appeared in the newspapers (which is most of what we've dealt with on this project) they're cut up into reasonably digestible 1000-word (or so) chunks. Concision is required because newsprint isn't cheap. Speech, on the other hand, especially in the style of the day, tends to be more circular instead of linear; that is, in Henry's case you can follow what appears to be an argument to a conclusion and completely misinterpret it because it isn't finished, he returns to it later. It isn't a logical form, it's a dramatic form.
The status of Virginia as a state within a union is one example. At one point you think Henry might even be for secession, at another for the union at maybe more cost than Virginia might desire, and eventually you find out it's actually neither but a bit of both. These are not contiguous sections of the speech. The listener of the day would have found that boring and single-minded.
By the standards of the period, this is a short speech. No kidding.
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