Patrick Henry—Liberty or Death!
Freedom Fighters from Our Past
Allow us to introduce you to some of the courageous characters highlighted on our Resist Tyranny Tour this fall. Their remarkable actions and accounts many years ago nurtured our contemporary freedoms and provide vital inspiration and instruction for patriots today.
atrick Henry was a man who never held public office in the United States of America but was christened by his contemporaries as the Trumpet of the Revolution and the Lion of Liberty.
He was among the first to speak against even minor tyrannies being foisted upon the American people and one of the first to act to ensure their freedoms were kept.
His fiery rhetoric and vehement allegiance to the King of Heaven influenced and prepared the mindset of the thirteen colonies to be bold in defending their inherent rights with rhetoric and the sword. In his own words: “If this is treason, make the most of it.”
Such a legacy had its humble beginnings when Patrick Henry was born to a well-educated Scotsman and his wife who carried from their homeland the Scottish trait of suspicion of governmental overreach. A century before, the famed Scottish reformer Samuel Rutherford had penned the outlawed Lex Rex (the law is King) in defiance of the sitting kings’ declaration of Rex Lex (the king is law.)
Patrick Henry’s first test of these principles was when, in his capacity of lawyer, he defended Presbyterian ministers’ rights to preach the gospel in the Anglican state of Virginia. He was successful, and his career as a lawyer, a statesman, and a guardian of liberty was cemented into history.
He filled various roles during the war, proving himself a tenacious, wise and even compassionate wartime governor of the state of Virginia and a persuasive member of the Continental Congress.
After the war, he declined to attend the Philadelphia Constitutional Convention of 1787, and in 1788 was the leading opponent of ratification of the U.S. Constitution at the Virginia Convention. This action, which has aroused much controversy ever since, resulted from his fear that the original document did not secure either the rights of the states or those of individuals.
Henry became reconciled to the new federal government after the passage of George Mason’s Bill of Rights, for which Henry was in great measure responsible. None of these precautions were sufficient enough to induce him to give into Alexander Hamilton’s pleas for him to run for President.
In 1799, however, he consented to run again for the state legislature, and in his successful electoral campaign he made his last speech—a moving plea for American unity. He died at his home, Red Hill, before he was to have taken the seat.
Patrick Henry is remembered as a man of great foresight with a soldier’s bravery to act and a skill at oratory greatly influenced by the pulpit. He was among the first to call for independence from Britain, for a bill of rights for our own constitution, and for as much freedom as possible from government—American as well as British.
Scotchtown, Patrick Henry’s home, is one of the great sites we will visit this fall on our Resist Tyranny Tour. You don’t want to miss this!