Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death
On 20 March 1775, The Second Virginia Convention convened at St. John’s Church in Richmond. They assembled to consider weighty matters concerning the tyranny and oppression of the Crown. Many favored continued conciliatory measures. A thirty-nine year old delegate from Hanover County named Pätrick Henry took a seat in the third pew.
Here sat a man with a burden. He knew he faced “an irresolute body; that he would be opposed by the powerful, wealthy, Tory element among the members. He realized that the Loyalists were insidiously entrenched and the outcome was uncertain. Pätrick Henry’s risk was tremendous – one that could easily bring him to the block.”
But Mr. Henry feared not man that can destroy only the body – he feared God who can destroy both body and soul. “Liberty” burned in his heart and flowed through his veins. “Death” was to be preferred before cowering in fear before the British leviathan. Mr. Henry was the archetype Southerner whose motto “Liberty or death, ” exhibited a bravery and patriotism seldom seen today.
Here is his famous speech delivered 23 March 1775.
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Patrick Henry was born in Hanover County, Virginia in 1736, to John and Sarah Winston Henry. A symbol of America’s struggle for liberty and self-government, Patrick Henry was a lawyer, patriot, orator, and willing participant in virtually every aspect of the founding of America.
John Henry educated young Patrick at home, including teaching him to read Latin, but Patrick studied law on his own. In 1760, he appeared in Williamsburg to take his attorney’s examination before Robert Carter Nicholas, Edmund Pendleton, John and Peyton Randolph, and George Wythe, and from that day forward, Patrick Henry’s story is inseparable from the stream of Virginia history.