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  • Patrick Henry's Fight for Liberty

    In light of this week’s events, many Americans are frustrated and disheartened. But we should take heart. Today marks the 235th anniversary of Patrick Henry’s famous speech, when he proclaimed “Give me liberty, or give me death.” This sentiment represents a legacy much older and nobler than tyrannical healthcare legislation and should inspire our efforts to restore liberty.

    Some may know the story; I tell it in the first pages of my book, We Still Hold These Truths.  It was 1775. Patrick Henry, a young backcountry lawyer, rose before a gathering of Virginia state legislators. He encouraged his countrymen to prepare for war against Great Britain – little did they know, the fighting would begin in a month’s time.

    Henry crafted one of the most convincing and impassioned speeches of the revolution. “We have done everything that could be done to avert the storm which is now coming on,” he argued in building to the close of his address. “The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have?”

    “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet,” he cried, “as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?” Henry raised his hands, crossed at the wrists, as though he were bound. “Forbid it, Almighty God!”

    “I know not what course others may take,” he calmly professed then he paused. Slowly, deliberately, and in a firm voice, Henry concluded to the hushed audience, “But as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!”

    Americans should remember his courage and strive to revive our commitment to liberty and self-government.

    Posted in First Principles [slideshow_deploy]

    33 Responses to Patrick Henry's Fight for Liberty

    1. Tom Baker, Old Hicko says:

      Excellent! May God grant us the stamina to display the courage demonstrated by our founding fathers.

    2. Mike L. Honesdale,PA says:

      What a fitting thing to remember on a day like this. As we hear people descirbe this health bill as being like Christmas I have to wonder if they have given the slightest thought to what the gifts will cost – not just in money, but in liberty. Thanks for the reminder Matt!

    3. Missourimule says:

      To repeat an old cliche', "that was then, this is now" . . . . we seem to have decided that liberty carries with it, too many risks and responsibilities — so we'll exchange some liberty for what we think is some security. I'm very disheartened right now, and don't believe that we see that once-great spirit as relevant or even desirable anymore.

    4. Kevin Hicks, MI says:


      I am currently reading your book and couldn't agree more, know is the time for resolve.

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    6. Pingback: Give Me Liberty, or Give Me Death Anniversary | Rational Discourse

    7. SB Owner Springfield says:

      The people will either stop the Marxist takeover of the private sector by putting on the brakes in November, peacefully at the polls to avoid the certain alternative. There are millions of Patriots who believe as Patrick Henry. A free man is wealthier than a rich man living in tyranny. Live free or die.

    8. Derrick Jeter, McKin says:

      Excellent post, especially given this weekends events. You and I had the same idea to commemorate Henry's famous speech. I provide detailed historical background and the speech itself on my website, http://www.derrickjeter.com.

    9. roger hawkins, india says:

      to SB owner: "a free man is wealthier than a rich man living in tyranny." How so absolutely true. I am sorry to say people, but I have thought for the last year that it is time for civil insurrection. November is key.

    10. William Person says:

      "We do not dream of a government without power, but rather a government with less power than the governed. We are fortunate to live in the most free and prosperous nation mankind has ever known. To settle for exhaustion is to dishonor its greatness."

      Christen Varley

      President Greater Boston Tea Party

    11. Iowa says:

      The problem is our fight is within America now. We have irreconcilable differences. Even if conservatives win, those who want socialism won't quit either. They are equally determined. There is no solution except to divide the country. Who can help?

    12. Alex, Washington DC says:

      I am always left inspired when hearing stories of our Founding Fathers.

    13. Kathleen - Maryland says:

      I agree with SB. Live free or die. We the People will not tolerate tyranny & corruption. The government must be stopped . . . they are taking away our freedoms, bankrupting our country and the corruption is out of control. Let's stop them in November, so it can be done peacefully. I don't think the people will stand for much more. Lie free or die.

    14. ann kitay fulton tx says:

      last year at a 9/12 meeting I asked a friend how many people there did she believe would show up if they had to sneak to get to the meting and then worry about leaving safely, She said only one – you. "I know I would not be here" At this meeting we had discussd the founders and I raised Patrick Henry's name. It's put your money (Life) where you mouth is time.

    15. P. Griffin, Indiana says:

      Thanks to the sacrifices of my father's generation, I have enjoyed all the benefits of living in a free America. In recent years, though, I have observed the assault on our freedoms from those who we've elected and who swore an oath to uphold the Constitution. Wasn't it Lincoln who warned us that if this country perished, it would be not from forces without but from within?

      It breaks my heart to see our freedoms being eroded, our free enterprise economy being dismantled, our debt growing to astronomical, unsustainable levels, and our concerns and strong objections being ignored by our arrogant, out-of-touch elected officials.

      However, with the widely unpopular passing of this healthcare reform (?) bill, complete with arm-twisting, bribery, underhandedness, threats, and outright lies, I have found real hope. This government takeover of 1/7 of our economy while trying to convince us they "only want to help us" has opened our eyes and raised all kinds of red flags. We are no longer uninvolved and apathetic. We're wide awake and angry over this governmental bullying and intrusion in our lives, and with politicians who thumb their noses at us.

      It is my fervent hope that so many of them will be voted out in November and that this tyrannical destruction of our liberties will be stopped in its tracks via this peaceful process. Clearly, this government has overstepped its bounds and must be reined in, so that it is the servant of the people and not the other way around, and it has fallen to us to take responsibility and action to make this happen. We know that freedom must be protected and maintained or it will be lost, and we will not sit idly by and lose the hard-earned freedoms that previous generations of Americans fought and died for. We, the overwhelming majority of Americans, also cherish those freedoms and will do whatever is necessary to keep our country free for ourselves and for future generations.

    16. Drew Page, IL says:

      To too many (50%+) in this country, the Founding Fathers are just a bunch of dead white guys. If a street poll were taken among those age 30 and younger, it would be a safe bet that not more than 15% of those surveyed could name three of them. I doubt that any could correctly identify even five of the first ten amendments of the Constitution or tell you why they were included.

      Now we are learning that those who write the history text books for a majority of our highschool students want to leave out the Revolutionary War, its causes and results, the founding Fathers, their reasons for wanting independence, their debates on forming the Constitution, the dangers and risks they faced being called traitors and seditionists by the mother country, England. How does one write a history of a country and leave out something like this?

      Do we know for a fact that basic civics classes are being taught in all of our schools, providing students with a basic understanding of the Constitution and its impact on how government is to be run and what protections it provides the people who live under it? Or do we just take this for granted? How can the next generation understand their rights under our Constitution, the imposed limits placed on the government and the checks and balances provided by the division of powers among the Legislative, Executive and Judicial branches? Do we, as parents, insist that our local school boards include this curriculum be taught in our public schools, or do we just take it for granted that this is being done?

      Is it any wonder that so many young Americans do not truely understand American exceptalism? They aren't taught it; they aren't being reminded of it in the liberal press; they aren't it seeing it represented in movies or on T.V. To the contrary, our President certainly doesn't believe in it. His chronic apologizing for America is proof of that. For the most part, movies, T.V. and the liberal media seem to delight in pointing to America as insensitive to the plight of the world's poor, the big bully on the block and the exploiter of nations and of its own people.

      Is it only foreigners who come to this country that can see how exceptional America truely is? Is it only they, who have the experience of living in other countries and the ability to compare lifestyles here to their own homelands, that appreciate the freedoms only available in America?

    17. Lori, Berkley, Michi says:

      To Iowa, 'even if conservatives win, the other side is just as determined'. The left is not as impassioned – at least not the ranks. That is why they have had to bus people in to different rallies. We are impassioned because we are right. We believe that we are made in the image and likeness of God and because of that we have inalienable rights given by our Creator, not government. This is good vs. evil. God is in control, not Obama. We must reclaim our moral values – we must speak out and be persuasive and educate those who are misguided. A sleeping giant has awakened and will not be silenced. Pray for courage and perseverence. Christ has already won.

    18. Linda, Palm Coast, F says:

      I'm in.

    19. B Johnson says:

      The most disheartening thing to me, Is that those who treasonously run the charade of an administration, have yet to be imprisoned for their actions against the Constitution which they have sworn to uphold.

      I can not wait for the Supreme court to hear these cases brought before them, after having had to sit in silence as BOTH other branches of our government mocked the Constitution and lied about the importance of the Supreme court's rulings.

      Remember all, The only job of the Supreme court is to validate and substantiate laws in accordance to the constitution. It should be pretty clear who has the power here.

    20. Spiritof76, NH says:

      Those were great inspiring words to people that yearned for freedom from tyranny. Many of those people were willing to put evertyhting that they held dear on the line to secure that freedom.

      They are empty words today. Haven't we been pushed far enough to make those words come alive again? Unfortunately, the softness of our lives point only in one direction- direction of slavery, while we savor those words of bravado some 250 years ago when they meant reality.

    21. Stephen Oak Lawn ILL says:

      I hope that the november vote revolt will be sucessful in putting congresss back

      it it's place. But we must have a contingency plan in place. One option is to form

      a third party and marginalize the democrats, and if necessary republicans in every state in the union. This illeagle manuvering of suspension of rules at a whim by both parties must be permanently removed as an option to subvert the constraints of the constitution.

      When two hundred ninteen individuals can force their will on every citizen of these united states of america it's time slap congress in the face and show them

      that this is america, a capitalist society and we are the ones in charge!!!

    22. Rose Penn, Calhoun, says:

      Oh yes I'll be voting the bums out in November. – My big worry is voter fraud.

    23. Ryan, St Louis, Mo says:

      I agree 100%. Why dont we all meet (with our God given/2nd Amendment rights) in a field and take back our country? I will not abide by unconstitutional laws or any other laws that go against the constitution, whether or not the COurts deem them ok or not. I can read english–it is what the consitution is written in.

    24. Colonel Dan Bohlin, says:

      The Patrick Henry reference is apropos to our situation in another way. My daughter's Advance Placement (AP) U.S. History textbook, "American History A Survey," 12th ed. by David Brinkley, briefly mentions Patrick Henry but does not cite his famous "Liberty or Death" speech. Instead it mentions a different statement he made in which an observer accused him of "treason." The portrayal of Henry in this manner is not an accident, especially when you read other parts of the book.

      Take the Civil War era, for example, where the author makes absolutely no reference to the Gettysburg Address, but does manage to devote two full pages to "Shakespeare in America" during the mid-1800s. In the book's last chapter, the O.J. Simpson trial is a signficant event of the 1990s and 9/11/2001 is characterized as "four simultaneous catastrophes."

      As such, it's not surprising that we have the type of political leadership at the national level that we now have. One reaps what one sows and these revisionist history seeds have been sown by writers like Brinkley at institutions of so-called higher education for a long time.

      It's time to wake up, America. The Texas School Board of Education shouldn't have to do the heavy lifting for the entire country. Take a look at those US History books. If John Paul Jones isn't in the index, but Paula Jones is, you'll have a good idea where the author is headed. Hint: Indvidual liberty and responsibility will not be a central theme.

    25. Diane Winston, Wythe says:

      The key is perseverance. This will be a long fight for we have surrendered too much ground already. I'm in for the long haul, and as we keep growing in numbers let our enthusiasm infect the young folks around us until history becomes the exciting story it truly is. Be sure your own children and grandchildren learn the truth.

    26. Pingback: Obamacare: It’s not over yet « The Conservative Papers

    27. William Gautsch says:

      I too have read accounts of that speech. One I read described Henry at the point of crescendo thus," He stretched his neck forward and planted his feet, till the veins bulged with his valiant blood coursing to their maximum, his frame erect, his eyes afire, his timber aflame in brilliant righteous indignation, he became the very incarnation of the Spirit of Liberty."

    28. DaktariEd, Tucson, A says:

      "When the people fear the government, that is tyranny;

      when the government fears the people, that is liberty."

      ~Thomas Jefferson

    29. Bob Campbell Atlanta says:

      I hope voters remember Patrick Henry in November!

    30. Rod, Redondo Beach,C says:

      I'm all for voting out ALL incumbants, even the guys from my chosen party if a more originalist challenger arises. If you want REAL change then change every name in government; congress, president, state legislators, AG's, governors, city council, judges, ect. Vote them ALL out and see the change in the way the newly elected react! Actions speak far louder than words, in fact words don't speak at all anymore because they have intentionally been made meaningless by the progressive movement.

      We need real representatives that will go into office with the intention of repealing and eliminating unnecessary or unconstitutional laws rather than creating new ones. I would love to see an entire administration, congress and supreme court spend 4 years sifting through and eliminating bad laws and amendments written from 1900 on, without writing a single new law in the process. Wouldn't that be fantastic?

      My vote goes not to the candidate that says "Look what I will do for you", but rather to the one that says "Look what nonsense I will undo".

    31. Matt Erkert, The Lan says:

      Sold. Where can I get my hands on a copy of your book as soon as possible. And sign me up to a life time membership to the Heritage Foundation; and, while we are at it, to whom do I speak about giving my entire estate to this organization after I have taken my last breath?

      Live free, or die

      Matt Erkert

    32. Sandra Lea Schell, T says:

      When will the real issue of Mr. Obama's 'presidency' come to light? I'm speaking specifically of his citizenship status. The "Certification of Birth" he presented — after his election — supposedly came from the State of Hawaii. But the State of Hawaii does not even recognize that 'document' as a legal birth certificate.

      When will Americans focus on Mr. Obama's fuzzy citizenship status? He has a legion of attorneys working in his behalf to prevent disclosure of his place of birth. I feel this singular issue should predominate over all other pollitical and economic issues facing Americans these days. All other issues are absolutely secondary.

      I should think a candidate for the presidency of the United States of America would be willing, even eager, to put his fellow Americans' minds at ease by providing irrefutable proof of his eligibility to run for President of the United States.

      Perhaps Americans' minds are already at ease with the lack of proof regarding Mr. Obama's citizenship status. Perhaps Americans don't really care at all, after all.

      Tea, anyone?

    33. Sandra Lea Schell, T says:

      At the risk of having this particular comment censored, I just want to add something to my previously expressed opinion regarding Mr. Obama's perpetual efforts to withhold disclosure of his birth place. If he is found to be a non-citizen of the United States, I feel he should be required to leave the White House the very moment that truth comes to light. I also feel he should then be shot, drawn and quartered, and then impaled on a lodge pole at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and that his wife should be sent to Afghanistan, where she would be more than encouraged to wear a burqa for the rest of her life. But that's just me, an average American mother of eight and grandmother of twent-four. An average American mother who just became an angry mob.

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