On this day in 1736, Patrick Henry is born in Studley, Virginia. As the defense lawyer in the Parsons’ Cause trial in 1763, he crafted an eloquent defense based on the doctrine of natural rights, predating the Declaration of Independence by over a decade. In addition, Patrick Henry was the first elected governor of Virginia, and a delegate to both the First and Second Continental Congress.
However, he is most well-known for saying: “GIVE ME LIBERTY, OR GIVE ME DEATH!”
Is life so dear…?
Here are selected excerpts of that same speech from March 23, 1775 at St. John’s Church in Richmond, Viriginia:
“Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings… .”
“If we wish to be free…we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of hosts is all that is left us!”
“Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations.”
“Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”