Patrick Henry: Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death Speech


Patrick Henry was born in 1736 in Hanover County, Virginia. He is perhaps most famous for the speech he delivered in March of 1775 “Give me liberty or give me death”. Through his protest of British Tyranny he became a symbol of the American struggle for liberty and self-government. He was five times elected governor of Virginia. Patrick Henry was educated at home mainly by his father John Henry. Patrick chose to follow in his father’s footsteps and study law, which then took his pathway and that of the state of Virginia on a progression towards liberty and colonial rights of self-government.

Patrick Henry denounced the king of Britain, as he felt that the King’s ruling was tyrannical and that tyrants did not deserve to have the devotion of his subjects (1763). Rather than being an activist Henry was a patriot who cared deeply for what was both just and true. There was those in government who felt that some of Henry’s politics verged on being treasonable, but through persistence managed to change the views of the state government and they approved five of the resolutions that were put forward. The story goes that after the approval he got on his horse and went home, and one of his resolutions was promptly overturned.

His famous speech in 1775, found him preaching self-defence as in the right to bear arms. The speech took place in St. John’s Church in Richmond. It was heart-felt, inspirational and forward thinking. One of the most memorable quotes “I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death." This was very much a call to arms. Henry was a Quaker, and it was very unusual for a Quaker to take such an enthusiastic stance against authority and for the right to bear arms.

One of the responses to Henry’s speech was that the Royal Governor at the time, Lord Dunmore took the gunpowder out of the store for fear of reprisal by the patriots. Bit in hearing about this Henry forced the gunpowder to be replaced. He sis this with the help of the Militia.

At the time of Patrick Henry’s speech the British had marched on Concord only a few hours earlier, so it could be said that his speech marked the beginning of the Revolution in Virginia.

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