American revolutionary figure, famous for "Give me liberty or give me death" speech
Patrick Henry

Patrick Henry (29 May 1736 – 6 June 1799) was an American attorney, planter, and orator well known for his declaration to the Second Virginia Convention (1775): "Give me liberty, or give me death!" A Founding Father, he served as the first and sixth post-colonial Governor of Virginia, from 1776 to 1779 and from 1784 to 1786.

Governor, 1776-1779 and 1784-1786, Virginia


29 May 1736, in Studley, Hanover County, Virginia


6 Jun 1799, in Red Hill, Charlotte County, Virginia


Junto Society Founder of the Month, by Monty Rainey, May 2003
Patrick Henry
Includes audio clip of reading of "Give me liberty" speech
Patrick Henry Biography
Red Hill Patrick Henry National Memorial


HENRY, Patrick (1736-1799) Bibliography
Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
HENRY, Patrick (1736-1799) Guide to Research Papers
Biographical Directory of the United States Congress


Avalon Project - Jefferson's Autobiography, 29 Jul 1821
Covering the period from 1743 (his childhood, with background on his parents) to 1790 (shortly after his return from Paris and before assuming his office as U.S. Secretary of State); written during 6 Jan-29 July 1821
"When the famous Resolutions of 1765, against the Stamp-act, were proposed ... I attended the debate ... at the door of the lobby of the H. of Burgesses, & heard the splendid display of Mr. Henry's talents as a popular orator. They were great indeed; such as I have never heard from any other man. He appeared to me to speak as Homer wrote. ... I sent ... two copies of my draught, the one under cover to Peyton Randolph ... the other to Patrick Henry. Whether Mr. Henry disapproved the ground taken, or was too lazy to read it (for he was the laziest man in reading I ever knew) I never learned: but he communicated it to nobody."
Empire or Liberty: The Antifederalists and Foreign Policy, 1787-1788 [PDF], by Jonathan Marshall, The Journal of Libertarian Studies, 1980
Describes the arguments regarding foreign policy made during the period of ratification of the United States Constitution by the Federalists and the counterarguments, "largely ignored" by historians, from the Antifederalists
"As far as Patrick Henry could see, 'everything has been calm and tranquil.' ... Patrick Henry went further: The Spanish monarch, he claimed, trembled for the fate of his New World colonies with 'every advance the people make to the westward;' while his 'feeble colonies' stood exposed to our power, he could not afford to risk a contest with America. ... 'You are not to inquire how your trade may be increased, nor how you are to become a great and powerful people,' Patrick Henry rang out, 'but how your liberties can be secured; for liberty ought to be the direct end of your government.'"
Patrick Henry: Enemy of the State, by Ryan McMaken, 2 Dec 2003
"In 1775, Patrick Henry was not simply attempting to arouse the passions of his fellow Virginians. He was suggesting a practical course of action: arming the population of Virginia against the troops of the British Crown. By late April he was making good on his own exhortations ..."
Patrick Henry, by David Dieteman, 23 Mar 2001
"Of particular relevance to the present age, however, is Henry's warning from the speech of March 23, 1775, that 'it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth ...' Today, Americans 'indulge in the illusions of hope' by depending on the government, rather than their own hard work, to solve their problems."
Patrick Henry - Hero of the Day, The Daily Objectivist, 2000
Patrick Henry's Choice, by Ben Moreell, Essays on Liberty, 1954
"It is important to note that Patrick Henry did not say that he wanted a law to force everyone else to do as he wished. Nor was he trying to stampede a mob into following him. When he said, 'I know not what course others may take,' he was stating the very essence of liberty; for he was respecting the right of each person to be free to follow the dictates of his own conscience."
Sic Semper Tyrannis, by Lew Rockwell, The American Conservative, 23 Apr 2007
Analyses how the U.S. Presidency has been transmogrified from the role proposed by the Federalists
"... what if the authors of the Federalist Papers were liars? This is not as crazy a theory as it might sound. Patrick Henry believed that they were, which is why he opposed the Constitution to begin with. It was too much of a risk, he said, to create any sort of president: 'If your American chief be a man of ambition and abilities, how easy is it for him to render himself absolute!'"
Related Topic: Founding Fathers
The Constitution Within, by Sheldon Richman, 18 Aug 2006
Questions the validity of constitutions by relating how James Madison behaved during the debates over the U.S. document and later his introduction in Congress of the amendments that would become the Bill of Rights
"Madison's bid to be one of the senators from Virginia (state legislatures elected senators in those days) was opposed by the leading Anti-federalist Patrick Henry, who had headed the effort for amendments at the ratifying convention. '[N]o person who wishes the constitution to be amended should vote for Mr[.] Madison to be in the senate,' Henry said. When a Madison backer claimed that Madison would oppose elimination of the national taxing power, Henry pounced, 'There gentlemen, the secret is out: it is doubted whether Mr. Madison will obey instructions.'"
Virginia Sentinel: The Principled Dissent of Patrick Henry, by Michael Lee Pope
"... the Constitution represented a radically new concept of government: quantifying the liberties of which Americans are endowed. ... My contention is that Henry's dissent from the Constitution was a principled dissent based on very real fears he had about the dangers of consolidation and the importance of ensuring individual liberties."


Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death, 23 Mar 1775
Text of the speech given at Saint John's Church in Richmond, Virginia to the Virginia House of Burgesses
"The question before the house is one of awful moment to this country. For my own part, I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery ... These are the implements of war and subjugation; the last arguments to which kings resort. ... I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"
Liberty or Empire?, 5 Jun 1788
Excerpt of speech to the Virginia Ratifying Convention; criticizes several clauses of the proposed Constitution and warns about the possibility of a U.S. President becoming even worse than a king
"THIS, sir, is the language of democracy--that a majority of the community have a right to alter government when found to be oppressive. But how different is the genius of your new Constitution from this! How different from the sentiments of freemen that a contemptible minority can prevent the good of the majority! ... This Constitution is said to have beautiful features; but when I come to examine these features, sir, they appear to me horribly frightful."

The introductory paragraph uses material from the Wikipedia article "Patrick Henry" as of 07 May 2018, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.