30 November 2012
Patrick Henry’s Legacy
"Give me liberty, or give me death!", the slogan that became the call-to-arms for the American Revolution, is the final sentence of a speech given by Patrick Henry to the Virginia Convention on March 23, 1775. These compelling words were uttered at the St. John's Episcopal Church in Richmond, Virginia, and the sentiments were to be echoed in the houses of government throughout the land which would become the United States of America. This monologues considered by many to be the impetus for the Virginia Convention’s overwhelming vote to dedicate its troops to a military effort which would evolve into the American Revolutionary War. The audience included both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, both of whom would become prominent figures in the struggle to attain freedom from the British. Historians continue to be baffled over the fact that such a powerful and prominent speech was not published until 1817, eighteen years after Henry’s death (Raphael, 113).
Although primarily remembered for his famous speech, Patrick Henry (1736 –1799) played a much larger role in the latter days of colonial America, and was instrumental in swaying public opinion toward the movement for independence. He was originally considered to be one of the more radical proponents to defy Britain, and was eschewed by many of his contemporaries for being too extreme. Along with Samuel Adams and Thomas Paine, he advocated outright refusal to adhere to what was becoming more and more intolerable treatment by the throne, in his opinion a symbol of tyranny five thousand miles away (Cohen, 702).
However, as England’s abuse of the colonies continued to progress, his faction began to gain momentum, and people began to listen more closely to what he and his colleagues were advocating. He made predictions of the extent the British were willing goes, and these prophesies proved accurate. Gradually, the...