240th Anniversary of Patrick Henry's Liberty or Death Speech

On March 23, 1775, at St. John's Church in Richmond, Virginia, Patrick Henry delivered his Liberty or Death speech at the 2nd Virginia Convention. Among the 120 delegates in attendance were George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Robert Carter Nicholas and more. 

Henry was a superb orator who spoke extemporaneously. One aspect of Henry’s genius was that he was able to take ideas and phrases that were part of the intellectual life of the colonies and put them into eloquent words and persuasive arguments. There is no written record of this speech. It was not until William Wirt, Henry’s first biographer, published Sketches of the Life and Character of Patrick Henry in 1817 that a reconstruction of the speech was printed. Based on the recollections of men who had been present when the speech was made, the main source was a lengthy letter that St. George Tucker wrote relating his memories of the speech. Some scholars attribute the version of the speech commonly known to Tucker, but there are other firsthand accounts that characterize Henry’s speech in a similar manner, giving weight to Tucker’s memories of the words that Henry spoke.

James Parker, a Norfolk merchant who talked with delegates after the convention, wrote a letter on 6 April 1775 that describes Henry’s speech as “infamously insolent,” and repeats that Henry referred to the King as “a Tyrant, a fool, a puppet & a tool to the ministry, Said there was now no Englishmen, no Scots, no Britons, but a set of wretches sunk in luxury, they had lost their nature courage, & unable to look the brave Americans in the face.” Edmund Randolph, in a history of Virginia that he wrote in the early nineteenth century, recalled that Henry “with indignation ridiculed the idea of peace ‘when there is no peace.’” The language reflected in these descriptions of Henry’s speech is similar to that which William Wirt included in his reconstruction.

Henry’s speech was powerful and carried the resolutions in a close vote. The convention journal does not record the actual vote, but Parker wrote that the resolution was “carried by a Majority of 65 to 60.” The convention records indicate that only 118 delegates were likely present that day. The vote was close, and the resolution passed by a narrow margin.

www.historicstjohnschurch.org 
Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death

Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death

Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death


Patrick Henry - Give me Liberty or Give me Death Speech - Hear and Read the Full Text

Patrick Henry - Give me Liberty or Give me Death Speech - Hear and Read the Full Text

Patrick Henry - Give me Liberty or Give me Death Speech - Hear and Read the Full Text


Orson Welles   Patrick Henry   Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death

Orson Welles Patrick Henry Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death

Orson Welles Patrick Henry Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death


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Liberty's Kids 104 - Liberty or Death

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GIVE ME LIBERTY OR GIVE ME DEATH! by Patrick Henry - FULL AudioBook | Greatest Audio Books

GIVE ME LIBERTY OR GIVE ME DEATH! by Patrick Henry - FULL AudioBook | Greatest Audio Books

GIVE ME LIBERTY OR GIVE ME DEATH! by Patrick Henry - FULL AudioBook | Greatest Audio Books


Patrick Henry, Orator of the Revolution

Patrick Henry, Orator of the Revolution

Patrick Henry, Orator of the Revolution


What inspired Patrick Henry to proclaim, “Give me Liberty or Give me Death!”?

What inspired Patrick Henry to proclaim, “Give me Liberty or Give me Death!”?

What inspired Patrick Henry to proclaim, “Give me Liberty or Give me Death!”?