Patrick Henry | Wikipedia audio article


Patrick Henry (May 29, 1736 – June 6, 1799)
was an American attorney, planter, and orator well known for his declaration to the Second
Virginia Convention (1775): “Give me liberty, or give me death!” A Founding Father, he served
as the first and sixth post-colonial Governor of Virginia, from 1776 to 1779 and from 1784
to 1786. Henry was born in Hanover County, Virginia,
and was for the most part educated at home. After an unsuccessful venture running a store,
and assisting his father-in-law at Hanover Tavern, Henry became a lawyer through self-study.
Beginning his practice in 1760, he soon became prominent through his victory in the Parson’s
Cause against the Anglican clergy. Henry was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses,
where he quickly became notable for his inflammatory rhetoric against the Stamp Act of 1765.
In 1774 and 1775, Henry served as a delegate to the First and Second Continental Congresses,
but did not prove particularly influential. He gained further popularity among the people
of Virginia, both through his oratory at the convention and by marching troops towards
the colonial capital of Williamsburg after the Gunpowder Incident until the munitions
seized by the royal government were paid for. Henry urged independence, and when the Fifth
Virginia Convention endorsed this in 1776, served on the committee charged with drafting
the Virginia Declaration of Rights and the original Virginia Constitution. Henry was
promptly elected governor under the new charter, and served a total of five one-year terms.
After leaving the governorship in 1779, Henry served in the Virginia House of Delegates
until he began his last two terms as governor in 1784. The actions of the national government
under the Articles of Confederation made Henry fear a strong federal government and he declined
appointment as a delegate to the 1787 Constitutional Convention. He actively opposed the ratification
of the Constitution, a fight which has marred his historical image. He returned to the practice
of law in his final years, declining several offices under the federal government. A slaveholder
throughout his adult life, he hoped to see the institution end, but had no plan for that
beyond ending the importation of slaves. Henry is remembered for his oratory, and as an enthusiastic
promoter of the fight for independence.==Early life and struggles (1736–1759)
==Henry was born on the family farm, Studley,
in Hanover County in the Colony of Virginia, on May 29, 1736. His father was John Henry,
an immigrant from Aberdeenshire, Scotland, who had attended King’s College there before
emigrating to Virginia in the 1720s. Settling in Hanover County in about 1732, John Henry
married Sarah Winston Syme, a wealthy widow from a prominent local family of English ancestry.Patrick
Henry shared his name with his uncle, an Anglican minister, and until the elder Patrick’s death
in 1777 often went as Patrick Henry Jr. Henry attended a local school until about the age
of 10. There was then no academy in Hanover County, and he was tutored at home by his
father. The young Henry engaged in the typical recreations of the times, such as music and
dancing, and was particularly fond of hunting. Since the family’s lands and slaves would
for the most part pass to his older half-brother John Syme Jr., Henry needed to make his own
way in the world. At the age of 15, he became a clerk for a local merchant, and a year later
opened a store with his older brother William. The store was not successful.The religious
revival known as the Great Awakening reached Virginia when Henry was a child. His father
was staunchly Anglican, but his mother often took him to hear Presbyterian preachers. Although
Henry remained a lifelong Anglican communicant, ministers such as Samuel Davies taught him
that it is not enough to save one’s own soul, but one should help to save society. He also
learned that oratory should reach the heart, not just persuade based on reason. His oratorical
technique would follow that of these preachers, seeking to reach the people by speaking to
them in their own language.Religion would play a key part in Henry’s life; his father
and namesake uncle were both devout and were both major influences in his life. Nevertheless,
he was uncomfortable with the role of the Anglican Church as the established religion
in Virginia, and fought for religious liberty throughout his career. Henry wrote to a group
of Baptists who had sent a letter of congratulations following Henry’s 1776 election as governor,
“My earnest wish is, that Christian charity, forbearance and love may unite all different
persuasions as brethren.” He criticized his state of Virginia, feeling that slavery and
lack of religious toleration had retarded its development. He told the Virginia Ratifying
Convention in 1788, “That religion or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the
manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force
or violence, and therefore all men have an equal, natural and unalienable right to the
free exercise of religion according to the dictates of conscience, and that no particular
religious sect or society ought to be favored or established by law in preference to others.” In 1754, Henry married Sarah Shelton, reportedly
in the parlor of her family house, Rural Plains. (It also became known as Shelton House.) As
a wedding gift, her father gave the couple six slaves and the 300-acre (1.2 km2) Pine
Slash Farm near Mechanicsville. Pine Slash was exhausted from earlier cultivations, and
Henry worked with the slaves to clear fresh fields. The latter half of the 1750s were
years of drought in Virginia, and after the main house burned down, Henry gave up and
moved to the Hanover Tavern, owned by Sarah’s father.Henry often served as host at Hanover
Tavern as part of his duties, and entertained the guests by playing the fiddle. Among those
who stayed there during this time was the young Thomas Jefferson, aged 17, en route
to his studies at the College of William and Mary, and who later wrote that he became well
acquainted with Henry then, despite their age difference of six years. Jefferson in
1824 told Daniel Webster, “Patrick Henry was originally a bar-keeper”, a characterization
that Henry’s biographers have found to be unfair; that his position was more general
than that, and that the main business of Hanover Tavern was serving travelers, not alcohol.
William Wirt, Henry’s earliest biographer, rejected Jefferson’s suggestion that Henry’s
profession then was a bartender, but noted it would have been “very natural in Mr. Henry’s
situation” to do what was necessary to ensure that guests were properly seen to.==Revolutionary lawyer and politician (1760–1775)
=====Parson’s Cause===
While at Hanover Tavern, Henry found time to study the law. How long he did so is unclear;
he later stated that it was as little as a month. On the advice of a local lawyer, Henry
in 1760 applied for a lawyer’s license, appearing before the examiners—prominent attorneys
in the colonial capital of Williamsburg. The examiners were impressed by Henry’s mind even
though his knowledge of legal procedures was scant. He passed in April 1760, and he thereafter
opened a practice, appearing in the courts of Hanover and nearby counties.The droughts
of the 1750s had led to a rise in the price of tobacco. Hard currency was scarce in Virginia,
and salaries in the colony were often expressed in terms of pounds of tobacco. Prior to the
drought, the price of tobacco had long been twopence per pound (0.45 kilograms) and in
1755 and 1758, the Virginia House of Burgesses, the elected lower house of the colonial legislature,
passed Two Penny Acts, allowing debts expressed in tobacco to be paid at the rate of twopence
per pound for a limited period. These payees included public officials, including Anglican
clergy—Anglicanism was then Virginia’s established church, and several ministers petitioned the
Board of Trade in London to overrule the Burgesses, which it did. Five clergymen then brought
suit for back pay, cases known as the Parson’s Cause; of them, only the Reverend James Maury
was successful, and a jury was to be empaneled in Hanover County on December 1, 1763 to fix
damages. Henry was engaged as counsel by Maury’s parish vestry for this hearing. Patrick Henry’s
father, Colonel John Henry, was the presiding judge. After the evidence was presented proving the
facts at issue, Maury’s counsel gave a speech in praise of the clergy, many of whom were
in attendance. Henry responded with a one-hour speech, ignoring the question of damages,
but which focused on the unconstitutionality of the veto of the Two Penny Act by the king’s
government. Henry deemed any king who annulled good laws, such as the Two Penny Act, as a
“tyrant” who “forfeits all right to his subjects’ obedience”, and the clergy, by challenging
an impartial law designed to bring economic relief, had shown themselves to be “enemies
of the community”. The opposing counsel accused Henry of treason, and some took up that cry,
but Henry continued, and the judge did nothing to stop him. Henry urged the jury to make
an example of Maury, for the benefit of any who might seek to imitate him, and suggested
the jury return damages of one farthing. The jury was out for only moments, and fixed damages
at one penny. Henry was hailed as a hero. According to biographer Henry Mayer, Henry
had “defined the prerogatives of the local elite by the unorthodox means of mobilizing
the emotions of the lower ranks of religious and political outsiders.” Henry’s popularity
greatly increased, and he added 164 new clients in the year after the Parson’s Cause.===Stamp Act===In the wake of the Parson’s Cause, Henry began
to gain a following in backwoods Virginia, because of his oratory defending the liberties
of the common people, and thanks to his friendly manner. He boosted his standing further in
1764 by representing Nathaniel West Dandridge, elected for Hanover County, in an election
contest before the Burgesses. Dandridge was alleged to have bribed voters with drink,
a practice common but illegal. Henry is said to have made a brilliant speech in defense
of the rights of voters, but the text does not survive. Henry lost the case, but met
influential members on the Committee of Privileges and Elections, such as Richard Henry Lee,
Peyton Randolph and George Wythe. In 1765, William Johnson, the brother of Thomas Johnson
(who had been one of Henry’s clients in the Parson’s Cause), resigned as burgess for Louisa
County. As Henry owned land in the county (acquired from his father to settle a loan),
he was eligible to be a candidate, and he won the seat in May 1765. He left immediately
for Williamsburg as the session had already begun.The expense of the Seven Years’ War
(1756–1763) had nearly doubled Britain’s national debt, and as much of the war had
taken place in and around North America, the British government looked for ways of directly
taxing the American colonies. The 1765 Stamp Act was both a means of raising revenue and
one of asserting authority over the colonies. The Burgesses instructed their agent in London,
Edward Montague, to oppose the measure, and other colonial legislatures similarly instructed
their representatives. Considerable debate began over the proposed measure, and in Virginia
pamphleteers developed arguments Henry had made in the Parson’s Cause.Patrick Henry was
sworn into a sleepy session of the legislature on May 20; many of the members had left town.
On about May 28, a ship arrived with an urgent letter from Montague: the Stamp Act had passed.
On May 29, Henry introduced the Virginia Stamp Act Resolves. The first two resolutions affirmed
that the colonists had the same rights and privileges as Britons; the next two stated
that taxation should be exacted only by one’s representatives. The fifth was the most provocative,
as it named the Virginia legislature, the General Assembly, as the representatives of
Virginia empowered to tax. Two other resolutions were offered, though their authorship is uncertain.
Edmund and Helen Morgan, in their account of the Stamp Act crisis, suggested that Henry
acted as he saw the Stamp Act as both a threat to Virginians’ rights, and an opportunity
to advance himself politically.There are no verbatim transcriptions of Henry’s speech
in opposition to the Stamp Act. Texts are reconstructions, for the most part based on
recollections decades later by which time both the speech and Henry had become famous.
For example, Jefferson, still in his studies at the nearby College of William and Mary,
recalled the splendor of Henry’s oratory. No attempt was made to reconstruct Henry’s
words until 1790, when James Madison wrote to former burgess Edmund Pendleton, but Madison
learned that Pendleton had not been present; a second attempt did not occur until Wirt
began work on his biography of Henry in 1805. A French traveler, whose name is not known,
and whose journal was discovered in 1921, recorded at the time of Henry’s speech that
“one of the members stood up and said that he had read that in former times Tarquin and
Julius had their Brutus, Charles had his Cromwell, and he did not doubt but some good American
would stand up, in favour of his country”. As Henry had seemingly called for the killing
of King George III, there were cries of “Treason!” in the chamber, including by the Speaker,
John Robinson. John Tyler Sr. (father of the future president), who was standing with Jefferson
as they watched the session, called this one of “the trying moments which is decisive of
character”, and both recalled that Henry did not waver: “If this be treason, make the most
of it!”.The Burgesses adopted the first five resolutions—the two others, which denied
the right of any other body but the General Assembly to tax Virginians, and which branded
anyone who stated that Parliament had that right an enemy of the colony, were not passed.
According to the Morgans, the passed resolutions differed little from language in petitions
sent by the Burgesses to London in 1764, and the opposition to Henry may have been in part
because he was an upstart in Virginia politics. On May 31, with Henry absent and likely returning
home, the Burgesses expunged the fifth resolution, and the Royal Governor, Francis Fauquier,
refused to allow any of them to be printed in the official newspaper, the Virginia Gazette.
With the official texts of the passed resolutions denied them, newspapers in the colonies and
in Britain printed all seven resolutions, all of them presented as the resolves of the
influential Colony of Virginia. The resolutions, more radical as a group than what was actually
passed, reached Britain by mid-August, the first American reaction to the passage of
the Stamp Act. In North America, they galvanized opposition to the Stamp Act, and made Virginia
the leader in opposition to Parliament’s action. According to Thad Tate in Henry’s American
National Biography article, “Not only in Virginia but across the mainland British colonies,
Henry quickly established his reputation as an uncompromising opponent of imperial policy.”
The Morgans noted, “In Virginia the Stamp Act provided the opportunity for Patrick Henry’s
spectacular entry into politics”.===Lawyer and landowner (1766–1773)===
Fauquier dissolved the Burgesses on June 1, 1765, hoping new elections would purge the
radicals, but this proved not to be the case, as conservative leaders were instead voted
out. The governor did not call the Burgesses into session until November 1766, by which
time the Stamp Act had been repealed by Parliament, preventing Virginia from sending delegates
to the Stamp Act Congress in New York. Henry’s role in the active resistance that took place
in Virginia against the Stamp Act is uncertain. Although the lack of a legislative session
sidelined Henry during the crisis, it also undermined the established leaders of the
chamber, who remained scattered through the colony with little opportunity to confer,
as the public rage for change grew hotter.When the Burgesses eventually convened, Henry sometimes
opposed the colonial leaders, but united with them against British policies. In the late
1760s and early 1770s, Henry spent more time concentrating on his personal affairs, though
he advanced in standing within the Burgesses, serving on powerful committees. The Henry
family moved to a new house on his Louisa County property, probably in late 1765, and
lived there until 1769, when he returned to Hanover County. His law practice remained
strong until the courts under royal authority closed in 1774. Jefferson later complained
that Henry was lazy and ignorant in the practice of the law, his sole talent trying cases before
juries, and accused Henry of charging criminal defendants high fees to get them acquitted.
Norine Dickson Campbell, in her biography of Henry, found Jefferson’s comments unfounded;
that Henry’s rates were moderate for the time, and cited earlier historians as to Henry’s
competence. Jefferson’s comments came years after the two, once friends, quarreled. In
1769, Henry was admitted to practice before the General Court of Virginia in Williamsburg,
a venue more prestigious than the county courts.Henry invested some of his earnings in frontier
lands, in what is now the western part of Virginia, as well as in present-day West Virginia
and Kentucky. He claimed ownership though many of them were controlled by the Native
Americans, and sought to get the colonial (and, later, state) government to recognize
his claims. This was common among Virginia’s leading citizens, such as George Washington.
Henry foresaw the potential of the Ohio Valley and was involved in schemes to found settlements.
Income from land deals in 1771 enabled him to buy Scotchtown, a large plantation in Hanover
County, which he purchased from John Payne, the father of Dolley Madison—she lived there
for a brief time as a child. Scotchtown, with 16 rooms, was one of the largest mansions
in Virginia.Owning estates such as Henry’s meant owning slaves; Henry was a slaveholder
from the time of his marriage at the age of 18. Despite this, Henry believed that slavery
was wrong, and hoped for its abolition, but had no plan for doing so, nor for the multiracial
society that would result, for he did not believe schemes to settle freed slaves in
Africa were realistic, “to re-export them is now impracticable, and sorry I am for it.”
He wrote in 1773, “I am the master of slaves of my own purchase. I am drawn along by the
general inconvenience of living here without them. I will not, I cannot justify it.” But
the number of slaves he owned increased over time, and as a result of his second marriage
in 1777, so that at his death in 1799, he owned 67 slaves. Henry and others sought to
end their importation to Virginia, and succeeded in 1778. They assumed that in so doing, they
were fighting slavery, but in the generation after independence, slave births greatly exceeded
deaths, and Virginia became a source of slaves sold south in the coastwise slave trade.===Renewed involvement and First Continental
Congress (1773–1775)===In 1773, Henry came into conflict with the
royal governor, John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore. The governor, appointed in 1771, had sent
British soldiers to Pittsylvania County to aid in apprehending a gang of counterfeiters.
Once captured, they were immediately taken to Williamsburg for trial before the General
Court, ignoring precedent that judicial proceedings should begin in the county where the offense
took place, or where the suspect was captured. This was a sensitive matter especially because
of the recent Gaspee affair in Rhode Island, in which the British sought to capture and
transport overseas for trial those who had burned a British ship. The Burgesses wanted
to rebuke Dunmore for his actions, and Henry was part of a committee of eight members,
that drafted a resolution thanking the governor for the capture of the gang, but affirming
that using the “usual mode” of criminal procedure protected both the guilty and the innocent.
They also penned a plan, adopted by the Burgesses, for a committee of correspondence to communicate
with leaders in other colonies, to inform and coordinate with each other. The members
included Henry.Although Henry had by this time come to believe that conflict with Great
Britain, and independence, was inevitable, he had no strategy for advancing this. The
Burgesses were sitting when in 1774, word came that Parliament had voted to close the
port of Boston in retaliation for the Boston Tea Party, and several burgesses, including
Henry, convened at the Raleigh Tavern to formulate a response. According to George Mason, a former
burgess from Fairfax County, who joined the committee in the work, Henry took the lead.
Mason and Henry would form a close political relationship that would last until Mason’s
death in 1792. The resolution that Henry’s committee produced set June 1, 1774, the date
upon which the Port of Boston was to be closed, as a day of fasting and prayer. It passed
the Burgesses, but Dunmore dissolved the body. Undeterred, the former legislators met at
the Raleigh Tavern, and reconstituted themselves as a convention, to meet again in August,
after there was time for county meetings to show local sentiment. They also called for
a boycott of tea and other products.The five Virginia Conventions (1774–1776) would guide
the Old Dominion to independence as royal authority came to an end. Their work was advanced
by many resolutions of county meetings, denying the authority of Parliament over the colonies,
and calling for a boycott of imports. The first convention met in Williamsburg in the
chamber of the Burgesses beginning on August 1; Dunmore was absent from the capital fighting
the Native Americans and could not interfere. Divided between those who wanted separation
from Britain and those who still hoped for some accommodation, it met for a week; one
major decision was the election of delegates to a Continental Congress in Philadelphia.
Henry was chosen as one of seven delegates, tying for second place with Washington, burgess
for Fairfax County, both receiving three votes less than Randolph. As Washington’s estate, Mount Vernon, lay
on the way from Scotchtown to Philadelphia, he invited Henry to stop there and to ride
to Philadelphia with him, and Henry did, also accompanied by Pendleton, another Virginia
delegate to the Congress and a political rival of Henry’s. Delegates and prominent Philadelphians
took an intense interest in the Virginians, who had taken the lead in resistance to Britain,
but whom few in the other colonies had met. This was Henry’s first stay in the North,
excepting a brief business trip to New York in 1770 but he found that his actions were
well known. The sessions began on September 5, 1774, at Carpenter’s Hall. Silas Deane
of Connecticut described Henry as “the compleatest speaker I ever heard … but in a Letter I
can give You no Idea of the Music of his Voice, or the highwrought, yet Natural elegance of
his Stile, or Manner”. The secretary of the Congress, Charles Thomson, wrote that when
Henry rose, he had expected little from a man dressed as plainly as a rural minister.
“But as he proceeded, [he] evinced such [an] unusual force of argument, and such novel
and impassioned eloquence as soon electrified the whole house. Then the excited inquiry
passed from man to man … ‘Who is it? Who is it?’ The answer from the few who knew him
was, it is Patrick Henry.”Henry was involved in the first dispute within the Congress,
on whether each colony should have an equal vote, taking the position that there should
be proportionate representation, with the larger colonies to have a greater voice. He
argued that colonial borders must be swept away in the need for Americans to unify and
create a government to fill the void left with the end of British authority, “Fleets
and armies and the present state of things shew that Government is dissolved. Where are
your landmarks? your boundaries of colonies? The distinctions between Virginians, Pennsylvanians,
New Yorkers, and New Englanders are no more. I am not a Virginian, but an American.” Henry
lost the argument, and his theatrics made Congress’s leaders afraid he would be unpredictable
if placed on the lead committee, that charged with composing a statement regarding colonial
rights. Instead, he was put on the next most important committee, one inquiring into commercial
regulation. In the end, though, neither committee produced much of importance. Henry believed
the purpose of the Congress should be to mobilize public opinion towards war. In this, he found
common cause with John Adams and Samuel Adams of Massachusetts, but not all were of that
opinion. According to Tate, Henry “turned out not to be an especially influential member
of the body”. The Congress decided on a petition to the King; Henry prepared two drafts but
neither proved satisfactory. When Congress on October 26 approved a draft prepared by
John Dickinson of Pennsylvania, who had consulted with Henry and also Richard Henry Lee, Henry
had already departed for home, and Lee signed on his behalf. The petition was rejected in
London.After the birth of their sixth child in 1771, Patrick’s wife Sarah Shelton Henry
began to exhibit symptoms of mental illness, and one reason for the move from Louisa County
to Scotchtown was so they could be near family members. Henry’s biographer, Jon Kukla believed
her to be the victim of postpartum psychosis, for which there was then no treatment. At
times, she was restrained in a form of straitjacket. Although Virginia had opened the first public
mental facility in North America in 1773, Henry decided that she was better off at Scotchtown,
and prepared a large apartment for her there. She died in 1775, after which Henry avoided
all objects that reminded him of her, and sold Scotchtown in 1777.===”Liberty or Death” (1775)===Hanover County elected Henry as a delegate
to the Second Virginia Convention, which convened at St. John’s Episcopal Church in the town
of Richmond on March 20, 1775. Richmond was selected as better protected from royal authority.
The convention debated whether Virginia should adopt language from a petition by the planters
of the Colony of Jamaica. This document contained complaints about British actions, but admitted
the King could veto colonial legislation, and it urged reconciliation. Henry offered
amendments to raise a militia independent of royal authority in terms that recognized
that conflict with Britain was inevitable, sparking the opposition of moderates. He defended
his amendments, concluding with the statement he is best known for: If we were base enough to desire it, it is
now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery!
Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war
is inevitable and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come.
It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace but there
is no peace. The war is actually begun! 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 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! As he concluded, Henry plunged an ivory letter
opener towards his chest in imitation of the Roman patriot Cato the Younger. Henry’s speech
carried the day, and the convention adopted his amendments. Still, they passed only narrowly,
as many delegates were uncertain where the resistance urged by Henry and other radicals
would lead, and few counties formed independent militia companies at the urging of the convention.The
text of Henry’s speech first appeared in print in Wirt’s 1817 biography, published 18 years
after Patrick Henry’s death. Wirt corresponded with men who had heard the speech and others
who were acquainted with people who were there at the time. All agreed that the speech had
produced a profound effect, but it seems that only one person attempted to render an actual
text. Judge St. George Tucker, who had been present for the speech, gave Wirt his recollections
and Wirt wrote back stating that “I have taken almost entirely Mr. Henry’s speech in the
Convention of ’75 from you, as well as your description of its effect on your verbatim.”
The original letter with Tucker’s remembrances has been lost.For 160 years Wirt’s account
was taken at face value. In the 1970s, historians began to question the authenticity of Wirt’s
reconstruction. Contemporary historians observe that Henry was known to have used fear of
Indian and slave revolts in promoting military action against the British and that, according
to the only written first-hand account of the speech, Henry used some graphic name-calling
that Wirt did not include in his heroic rendition. Tucker’s account was based upon recollections
and not notes several decades after the speech; he wrote, “In vain should I attempt to give
any idea of his speech”. Scholars have argued to what extent the speech we know is the work
of Wirt or Tucker.===Gunpowder incident===On April 21, 1775, Governor Dunmore had the
Royal Marines under his command seize gunpowder from the magazine in Williamsburg and take
it to a naval ship. The gunpowder belonged to the government, to be issued in case of
need, such as a slave uprising. Dunmore’s actions outraged many Virginians. Henry had
departed for Philadelphia, having been elected a delegate to the Second Continental Congress,
but a messenger caught up with him before he left Hanover County, and he returned to
take command of the local militia. Seeking the restoration of the powder, or that the
colonists be compensated for it, on May 2, Henry led his troops towards Williamsburg
with, as Dunmore wrote, “all the Appearances of actual War”. By this time, word of the
Battles of Lexington and Concord had arrived, and many Virginians believed that war with
Britain had begun. With his troops reinforced by eager volunteers from nearby counties,
Henry likely had force enough to take Williamsburg and deal Dunmore a humiliating defeat, but
increasingly prominent messengers urging caution slowed his advance, and in New Kent County,
still some 16 miles (26 km) from Williamsburg, three of Henry’s fellow delegates to Congress
helped persuade him to leave off his march. As Henry insisted the colonists be compensated,
a member of the Governor’s Council agreed to pay the value of the powder by bill of
exchange.Although Dunmore issued a proclamation against “a certain Patrick Henry, of the County
of Hanover, and a Number of his deluded Followers”, 15 county committees quickly approved Henry’s
action, and when he finally departed for Philadelphia, he was escorted to the Potomac by militia
who lined the shore, cheering, as his ferry pulled away. Not all approved; Henry’s march
appalled some moderates, who feared he might provoke a conflict in which Virginia stood
alone against Britain’s might. They also saw him as a threat to the sanctity of property,
for anyone’s might be taken by Henry and his troops. As popular support for independence
grew, opponents either joined in the movement, or decided it was wiser to remain silent.Henry
belatedly arrived at the Congress on May 18, 1775. Jefferson later stated that Henry played
only a supporting role, and though there is not a complete record, the fact that he was
not written of as having an impact appears to confirm that. The Congress appointed Washington
as head of American forces, an appointment that Henry supported. At the end of the session,
in August, Henry left Philadelphia for Virginia and would never again hold office outside
its borders.While Henry was returning, the Third Virginia Convention in August commissioned
him as colonel of the 1st Virginia Regiment, and he took up the appointment later that
month. Although Henry had little military experience, this was not considered a major
drawback at the time, and he was held to have distinguished himself in the march on Williamsburg.
General Washington, though, felt that the convention had “made a Capital mistake when
they took Henry out of the Senate to place him in the Field”. In September, Virginia’s
Committee of Safety placed Henry in charge of all of Virginia’s forces. Despite the high
title, Henry was placed under tight civilian control, and to an extent the willingness
of moderates to go along with the appointment reflected a view that in that position, the
volatile Henry would be contained.Henry moved to organize his regiment, and had no difficulty
recruiting men. As commander, he organized a navy. In November 1775, Dunmore, who though
he had abandoned Williamsburg still held Norfolk, issued a proclamation offering freedom to
any black slave or indentured servant willing and able to serve in his forces, which already
included several hundred former slaves. Henry wrote to all county lieutenants, stating that
the proclamation “is fatal to the publick Safety” and urging an “unremitting Attention
to the Government of the SLAVES may, I hope, counteract this dangerous Attempt. Constant,
and well directed Patrols, seem indispensably necessary.”Henry saw no action himself, and
there were murmurs in the convention against his command; some feared he was too radical
to be an effective military leader. In February 1776, Virginia’s forces were reorganized as
they were placed under Continental command. Henry was to retain his rank of colonel, but
was placed under a former subordinate. Henry refused, and left the army; his troops were
outraged by the slight to him, and considered leaving service, but he calmed the situation.==Independence and first time as governor
==Henry did not sit in the Fourth Virginia Convention
which met in December 1775, as he was ineligible because of his military commission. Once he
was again a civilian, the freeholders of Hanover County in April 1776 elected him to the fifth
convention, to meet the following month. Most delegates were for independence, but were
divided on how to declare it, and over timing. Henry introduced a resolution declaring Virginia
independent and urging the Congress to declare all the colonies free. When he at last spoke,
according to clergyman Edmund Randolph, Henry “appeared in an element for which he was born.
To cut the knot, which calm prudence was puzzled to untie, was worthy of the magnificence of
his genius. He entered into no subtlety of reasoning but was roused by the now apparent
spirit of the people as a pillar of fire, which notwithstanding the darkness of the
prospect would conduct to the promised land.” The eventual resolution was based in large
part on Henry’s, and passed unanimously on May 15, 1776. As well as declaring Virginia
independent, the resolution instructed the state’s delegates in Congress to press for
American independence, which they would, with Lee introducing the motion, and Jefferson
penning the Declaration.The convention then proceeded to consider a constitution for Virginia’s
government. Henry was appointed to a committee under the leadership of Archibald Cary. Much
of the work fell to the final appointee to the committee, George Mason of Fairfax County,
who did not arrive in Williamsburg until May 18, delayed by illness. Mason first drafted
a Declaration of Rights; it was discussed in the Cary Committee on May 25. Mason’s draft,
more than the final declaration, would be highly influential, used by Jefferson in writing
the Declaration of Independence, and by writers of many 18th and 19th century state constitutions.
When the draft was debated, Henry, at the request of a young delegate from Orange County,
James Madison, produced an amendment changing Mason’s call for religious tolerance to one
requiring full freedom of worship. This was seen as a threat to Virginia’s established
religion, Anglicanism, and did not pass. Madison reworked it and had another delegate introduce
it, likely Edmund Randolph, and it passed. Mason’s draft called for a ban on bills of
attainder. Henry got it removed by telling the delegates that some high offender might
be reached by no other means. The convention approved the Declaration of Rights on June
12.Virginia’s form of government, to be placed in its constitution, was a concern not only
within its borders; Jefferson, in Philadelphia though he would have preferred to be in Williamsburg,
sent a plan, and John Adams sent Henry a pamphlet containing his own views, to which Henry replied,
“your sentiments are precisely the same I have long since taken up, and they come recommended
by you”. But it was Mason’s plan for the government of Virginia which dominated, with much power
given to the Virginia House of Delegates, the lower house of the legislature. The House
of Delegates and the Senate of Virginia together formed the General Assembly, as the Virginia
legislature is known. Under the 1776 constitution, the governor, elected by the two houses of
the legislature, was not even given the power to veto legislation, and was required to act
with the approval of the Governor’s Council on important matters. Henry opposed the weakness
of the governor, feeling it was risky at a time of war to have the executive so weak,
but his views did not prevail. He had reason to rue the office’s lack of power, as on June
29, 1776, the convention elected him as Virginia’s first post-independence governor, by 60 votes
to 45 for Thomas Nelson Jr. The election of Henry, at that time Virginia’s most popular
politician, helped assure acceptance of the new authorities, but also placed him in a
figurehead position, removed from the true power in the new government, the House of
Delegates.Henry was taken ill almost immediately upon being sworn in as governor on July 5,
and recuperated at Scotchtown. He returned to Williamsburg in September, and corresponded
with General Washington about the military situation. Washington, who was less effective
because of the inadequacies of his troops, complained about the state militias, feeling
a Continental Army committed for the duration of the war was needed. Henry helped recruit
new troops for Washington, but his efforts were hampered by several issues, including
the weakness of Henry’s office. In December 1776, with the General Assembly alarmed at
reports Washington’s army was in retreat as the British occupied Philadelphia, legislators
granted Henry temporary expanded powers, something that Jefferson was still unhappy about years
later, feeling that Henry was trying to set himself up as dictator. In March 1777, Henry
wrote to Washington seeking permission to recruit soldiers for terms of up to eight
months. Washington’s anger in his response that such troops were not useful caused Henry
to drop the matter, stating that he deferred to Washington’s experience in military matters.
Recruiting remained a problem; many Virginians were willing to be members of the county militia,
but did not want to join the Continental Army lest they be sent out of state or exposed
to disease. Desertion was also a problem Henry labored to solve with limited success; many
Virginians hand been induced to enlist with promises they would not be sent outside the
state or local area, and left when orders came to march.Henry was elected to a second
one-year term without opposition, and took the oath on July 2, 1777. On October 9 at
Scotchtown, he married Dorothea Dandridge, daughter of his old client, Nathaniel West
Dandridge of Hanover County. This made him closer kin to Washington, as Nathaniel Dandridge
was Martha Washington’s uncle. To add to the six children he had by Sarah Henry, he would
have eleven more by Dorothea, though two by the second marriage died very young. She brought
12 slaves with her, adding to the 30 Patrick Henry already had. He sold Scotchtown in 1777,
and moved to Leatherwood Plantation in Henry County, which the General Assembly had just
created and named for him.When Washington and his troops encamped at Valley Forge in
the winter of 1777–1778, Henry arranged for livestock and other food to be sent to
their relief. There was discontent against Washington, who was not seen by some as a
successful general, and this resulted in the so-called Conway Cabal. Henry supported Washington
when Dr. Benjamin Rush of Philadelphia, one of those unenthusiastic about Washington,
sent the governor an unsigned letter, discussing machinations against the general. Henry immediately
sent Washington the letter, and though it is uncertain if Henry recognized Rush’s handwriting,
Washington did, tipping him off to the conspiracy. President Washington wrote of Henry in 1794,
“I have always respected and esteemed him; nay more, I have conceived myself under obligation
to him for the friendly manner in which he transmitted to me some insidious anonymous
writings in the close of the year 1777 with a view to embark him in the opposition that
was forming against me at that time”.In an effort to secure Virginia’s vast claims in
the West (to the Mississippi River, and north to present-day Minnesota) against British
and Native American forces, Henry in December 1777 sent George Rogers Clark on an expedition
against Kaskaskia, site of a British and French settlement. This part of Clark’s mission was
secret; his public orders merely stated he was to raise a militia and go to Kentucky
(then part of Virginia). Clark captured Kaskaskia in July 1778, and remained north of the Ohio
River for the remainder of Henry’s governorship. Although the expedition did not turn out as
well as hoped, Henry trumpeted its successes, but after he left the governorship in 1779
and was elected to the House of Delegates, he became a foe of Clark. Henry was elected to a third term on May 29,
1778, again without opposition. Thomas Jefferson led the committee of notables sent to inform
him of his election. In December 1778, Henry sent an urgent appeal to Congress for naval
aid in protecting Chesapeake Bay. None was forthcoming, and on May 8, 1779, in the final
days of Henry’s governorship, British ships under Sir George Collier entered the bay,
landed troops, and took Portsmouth and Suffolk, destroying valuable supplies. The British
departed on May 24, and Henry, limited to three consecutive terms in office by the 1776
constitution, left office soon after, succeeded by Jefferson, and with his family returned
to Leatherwood.==Leatherwood and the House of Delegates
(1779–1784)==At Leatherwood, Henry devoted himself to local
affairs in the thinly-populated county, and was given seats on the county court (the local
governing body), as prominent landowners were, and on the parish vestry. He refused to be
elected a delegate to Congress, stating that his personal business and past illness made
that impossible. When Governor Jefferson sent a note to him in early 1780, Henry replied
with gratitude, complaining of his isolation, and wrote of his many concerns about the state
of affairs, as the war continued. The freeholders of Henry County soon thereafter sent its eponym
to the House of Delegates. But within weeks, health problems recurred, causing his return
to Leatherwood. While in Richmond (where the capital had been moved) Henry opposed a congressional
plan to revalue Continental currency and impose certain taxes, feeling it would mostly benefit
the North. He was successful in defeating it, but after he left Richmond, supporters
got the legislature to pass it. Once he returned home, he was heavily involved in efforts to
recruit local volunteers to suppress bands of Loyalists who were conducting raids in
the frontier area. Henry rode with the troops, though he did not lead them, and they were
generally successful in suppressing the resistance. The volunteers were disbanded in September
1780.Richmond had been made the capital since it was believed to be less exposed to attack
than Williamsburg, but in January 1781, British forces under the renegade former American
general, Benedict Arnold, sailed up the James River and captured Richmond with little opposition
as Henry joined the other legislators and Governor Jefferson in fleeing to Charlottesville.
Although Arnold soon withdrew to Portsmouth, in February, troops under Lord Cornwallis
entered the state from North Carolina; the war, which had for the most part been fought
out of state, would have many of its final moves played in Virginia. With Washington’s
army near New York, Henry sought to recruit soldiers to defend the state, and in March
helped draft an angry remonstrance from the House of Delegates to Congress, demanding
help. Nevertheless, in May, British forces under Colonel Banastre Tarleton raided Charlottesville,
nearly capturing the Virginia government, which fled to Staunton. There is a story that
Henry fled with other prominent leaders, and sought refuge at the home of a woman who initially
spurned them as cowards for fleeing Charlottesville. But on learning Henry was with the group,
she decided it must be all right, and offered them the best she had.Jefferson did not go
to Staunton: his term as governor had just expired, but the legislature had not met to
hold an election. After the raid, he took refuge at his farm in Bedford County, and
Virginia had no governor for ten days. Several legislators complained of Jefferson’s actions
and called for an inquiry into the conduct of the executive (Jefferson and his council),
and Henry was among those who took the lead. The resolution passed, but the inquiry was
set for the next session, and the legislature thought better of it. Jefferson was angered
at Henry’s actions, and held a grudge that did not abate until well after Henry’s death
in 1799.With the war effectively ended by the American victory at the Siege of Yorktown,
Henry served as delegate from his county through 1784, when he was elected again as governor.
Peace brought many adjustments, and Henry sponsored legislation to reform Virginia’s
currency and to adjust payments from contracts still outstanding from before periods of high
inflation. Jefferson and others wanted to reopen contracts that had been already settled,
but in depreciated currency; Henry thought that unjust, and because of his influence
in the General Assembly, his version prevailed. This had international implications, as some
of the creditors were British, who sought payment in hard money rather than the depreciated
currency that had been paid into escrow. At the May 1783 House of Delegates session, Henry
successfully sponsored a resolution to repeal the trade embargo against Britain. That passed
despite opposition from John Tyler Sr., the Speaker. Henry also introduced legislation
to permit Loyalists to return to Virginia. There was considerable opposition to that,
and the measure was held over until later in the year, by which time public sentiment
had been gauged through meetings in each county. Henry spoke in the debate, asking “shall we,
who have laid the proud British lion at our feet, be frightened of its whelps?” Once it
was amended (though in what way is not clear), the bill passed in November 1783.Henry worked
together with James Madison, a delegate after three years in Congress, on a number of issues.
They differed, though, on state support for Virginia’s Protestant churches. Madison, like
Jefferson, desired a separation between church and state that meant no public financing of
religion, but Henry believed that taxpayers who were Christians should be assessed for
the maintenance of the Protestant church of their choice, financing an array of churches
in the way that Anglicanism had been funded in Virginia until the start of the war. Henry
was not alone in this belief; both Washington and Lee supported such plans. According to
Thomas S. Kidd in his biography of Henry, “the general assessment plan is one of the
main reasons Henry is not more widely esteemed as a Founder, for in this debate, he seems
to have diverted from the progressive flow of history.” The General Assembly might well
have passed the bill, but on November 17, 1784, the legislators elected Henry as governor.
Madison believed that Henry took the position for family reasons—his wife and children
were likely quite happy to be in Richmond rather than in remote Henry County—but the
cost was Henry’s bill as Madison got it postponed to the following year and eventually defeated.
Instead, Madison got Jefferson’s Statute for Religious Freedom through the legislature.
This law requiring a separation of church and state passed the General Assembly in 1786.==Second period as governor (1784–1786)
==Henry’s second time as governor was for two
years, as the legislature re-elected him in 1785. It was, generally, more placid than
his first. During this time, Henry and his family lived at “Salisbury”, in Chesterfield
County, about 13 miles (21 km) from Richmond in open country that he rented, though he
had an official residence close to the Virginia Capitol, which was then under construction.
The General Assembly had passed legislation for new arms for the militia, and Henry worked
with Lafayette to have them sent from France.Each county’s militia was under firm local control,
a state of affairs that had resulted in problems during the war as local militia refused orders
from Henry and other governors when asked to serve out of state or conscript recruits
into the Continental Army. In 1784, seeking to bring the militias under central control,
the General Assembly passed an act terminating all militia officer commissions, and allowing
Henry, with the consent of the Governor’s Council, to appoint replacements. The Virginia
Constitution required that there be a recommendation from the county court. Instead of asking the
county court, Henry solicited recommendations from prominent citizens in each county whom
he or his council members knew. The result was near-revolt in the counties, as citizens
protested the act as unconstitutional, and counties refused to obey. The law went widely
unenforced, and in October 1785, Henry requested the legislators to repeal it; they complied
the following year.Residents of western North Carolina, what is today the state of Tennessee,
sought to separate and become the State of Franklin. A former delegate, Arthur Campbell,
wanted to join Virginia’s adjacent Washington County as part of the scheme in 1785. Henry
had Campbell removed as a militia officer and from his other county offices, as well
as ousting Campbell’s supporters, replacing them with residents of known loyalty. Although
Henry urged leniency in his report to the General Assembly that October, stating that
the Washington County separatists had been led astray by anxiety because of the poor
economy, he had the legislature pass a Treason Act forbidding the setting-up of a rival government
within Virginia territory.Henry also sought to advance Virginia’s development, both as
governor and through his personal investments. He backed schemes to open navigation on the
upper Potomac and James rivers, envisioning canals to connect them to the Ohio River Valley.
He also supported a scheme to have a canal across the Great Dismal Swamp, believing that
with it, the trade of Eastern North Carolina would flow through Norfolk. He owned land
along the proposed route, and sought to interest General Washington in the scheme, but was
not successful. Despite Henry’s support for internal improvements, he failed to notify
Virgnia’s representatives of their appointment to meet with Maryland over navigation on the
Potomac, and only two, including George Mason, attended what became known as the Mount Vernon
Conference (1785). Edmund Randolph, unable to attend because of lack of timely notification,
hinted that the reason for Henry’s neglect was not forgetfulness, but a growing hostility
towards things federal. In 1786, Henry was more assiduous in notifying delegates to the
Annapolis Conference called with the support of Madison, who was appointed a delegate.
Henry stepped down at the end of his fifth term, stating he needed to devote time to
his family and earn money to support it.==Opponent of the Constitution (1787–1790)
==Disinclined to return to distant Leatherwood
after his time as governor ended in November 1786, Henry hoped to purchase land in Hanover
County but bought property in Prince Edward County instead. Hampden-Sydney College, which
he had helped found in 1775, is located in that county, and Henry enrolled his sons there.
The local freeholders elected Henry to the House of Delegates in early 1787, and he would
serve there until the end of 1790. The new governor, Randolph, offered to make Henry
a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, scheduled to meet in Philadelphia later that
year to consider changes to the Articles of Confederation, the document that had governed
the weak union among the states since 1777. Henry refused the appointment, alleging it
would be difficult financially. One legend is that when Henry was asked why he had not
gone, he replied, “I smelt a rat.”Henry’s record of urging unity made him a potential
supporter of a closer bond between the states, and as late as the end of 1786, Madison hoped
for Henry as an ally in the fight. Several factors had eroded Henry’s trust in the Northern
states, including what he deemed Congress’s failure to send adequate troops to protect
Virginia settlers in the Ohio River Valley. Henry was outraged by the Jay–Gardoqui Treaty,
which would have ceded exclusive navigation on the Mississippi River to Spain for 25 years.
This was in exchange for commercial concessions that would benefit New England, where there
was a growing separatist movement. Northern votes were sufficient to relax Jay’s negotiating
instructions, which had originally forbidden restricting American navigation on the Mississippi,
to allow him to reach a deal; Southern votes were sufficient to block the treaty’s ratification.
These events caused Henry and some other Virginia leaders to feel betrayed, and to have little
trust in the good faith of the North.When the Philadelphia convention adjourned in September
1787, its president, Washington, returned home and immediately sent a copy of the new
Constitution to Henry, recommending he support it. Henry was in Richmond for the autumn legislative
session as delegate for Prince Edward County. While thanking Washington for presiding in
Philadelphia and for sending the document, he said of it, “I have to lament that I cannot
bring my Mind to accord with the proposed Constitution. The Concern I feel on this account
is really greater than I am able to express.” He hinted, though, that he was still open
to changing his mind. This allowed Henry to remain noncommittal as opponents of the Constitution,
such as Mason and Edmund Randolph (both delegates at Philadelphia) published their opinions,
and to refine his views. In the initial Virginia battle over the Constitution, the call for
a convention to decide whether the state should ratify it, Henry and Mason were among those
who supported allowing the convention to ratify it conditional on amendments being made. The
matter was compromised with language allowing the convention’s members full rein in deciding
what to do, and it was set for June 1788, with elections in March; both those who supported
it and those who did not felt time would be to their advantage.Henry was elected to the
convention from Prince Edward County without difficulty, though John Blair Smith, president
of Hampden-Sydney, caused him some annoyance by having students read at an assembly, in
Henry’s presence, a speech by Henry and Smith’s own rebuttal. Henry opposed the Constitution
because of its grant of a strong executive, the president; he had not fought to free Virginia
from King George to surrender such powers to what might prove a despot. Henry accordingly
deemed the Constitution a backwards step, and a betrayal of those who had died in the
Revolutionary cause. At the Virginia Ratifying Convention, which began on June 2, 1788, according
to Kidd, Henry’s “personality blazed in all its power and glory.” Henry suggested that
the framers of the Constituition had no right to begin it “We the People” and ignore the
powers of the states. He suggested that the document put too much power in the hands of
too few. He noted that the Constitution, proposed without a Bill of Rights, did not protect
individual rights, Will the abandonment of your most sacred rights
tend the security of your liberty? Liberty, the greatest of all earthly blessings—give
us that precious jewel and you may take everything else. But I fear I have lived long enough
to become an old-fashioned fellow. Perhaps an invincible attachment to the dearest rights
of man may, in these refined, enlightened days, be deemed old-fashioned: if so, I am
contented to be so. Madison, the lead supporter of the Constitution,
was inhibited in replying to Henry’s criticisms, since he was ill through most of the convention.
Henry likely realized he was fighting a losing battle as sentiment in the convention moved
towards ratification, but continued to speak at length and his speeches fill nearly one-quarter
of the pages of the Richmond convention’s debates. Governor Randolph, who had become
a supporter of ratification, suggested that if the convention allowed Henry to continue
arguing, it would last six months rather than six weeks. Henry was somewhat mollified, after
the convention voted on June 21 to ratify the Constitution, by the fact that the convention
then proposed about 40 amendments; some of them were later incorporated in the Bill of
Rights. George Mason, Henry’s ally in opposing ratification, intended a fiery diatribe on
the faults of the new plan of government; he was talked out of it. By one account, Henry
told other opponents that he had done his duty in opposing ratification, and as republicans,
with the issues settled in a democratic way, they had best all go home. Madison wrote to
Washington that Henry still hoped for amendments to weaken the power of the federal government,
possibly to be proposed by a second national convention.Henry returned to the House of
Delegates, where he successfully defeated Madison’s effort to become federal senator
from Virginia, for under the original Constitution, senators were elected by legislators, not
the people. Although Henry made it clear he would not serve in office outside Virginia,
he received a number of votes in the election. Madison gained election to the House of Representatives
in a district where he was opposed by James Monroe, though Madison’s supporters complained
that Henry’s supporters in the legislature had unfairly placed Madison’s county, Orange,
in a district leaning anti-Federalist. Henry also saw to it that the requested amendments
were incorporated in petitions from the legislature to the federal Congress. Despite his qualms,
Henry served as one of Virginia’s presidential electors, voting for Washington (elected President)
and John Adams (elected Vice President). Henry was disappointed when the First Congress passed
only amendments dealing with personal liberties, not those designed to weaken the government.A
final cause Henry engaged in before leaving the House of Delegates at the end of 1790
was over the Funding Act of 1790, by which the federal government took over the debts
of the states, much of which dated from the Revolutionary War. On November 3 of that year,
Henry introduced a resolution, which would be passed by the House of Delegates and by
the state Senate, declaring the act “repugnant to the constitution of the United States,
as it goes to the exercise of a power not granted to the general [federal] government”.
This would prove the first of many resolutions passed by Southern state legislatures in the
decades to come, defending states’ rights and strict interpretation of the Constitution.==Later years==
Leaving the House of Delegates after 1790, Henry found himself in debt, owing in part
to expenses while governor, and sought to secure his family’s fortune through land speculation
and a return to the practice of law. Not fully reconciled to the federal government, Henry
contemplated a new republic in the thinly-settled frontier lands, but his plans came to nothing.
He did not travel as widely for cases as he had in the 1760s, confining his practice mostly
to Prince Edward and Bedford counties, though in a compelling case, or for a large enough
fee, he would travel to Richmond or over the mountains to Greenbrier County (today in West
Virginia).When the new federal court opened in Virginia in 1790, British creditors promptly
filed over a hundred cases seeking to enforce claims from the Revolutionary War. Henry was
part of the defense team in Jones v. Walker before the federal court in 1791; his co-counsel
included John Marshall, who prepared the written pleadings while Henry did much of the courtroom
advocacy. Henry argued the case for three days; Marshall, looking back, called him “a
great orator … and much more, a learned lawyer, a most accurate thinker, and a profound
reasoner”. The case ended inconclusively after one of the judges died, but the legal teams
reassembled for the case of Ware v. Hylton. Argued before another three-judge panel that
included Chief Justice of the United States John Jay and Associate Justice James Iredell,
Henry’s argument provoked Justice Iredell to exclaim, “Gracious God! He is an orator
indeed.” Henry and Marshall were initially successful, but the plaintiffs appealed, and
after Marshall argued his only case before the Supreme Court, that court in 1796 ruled
for the British creditors.Henry’s friendship with Washington had cooled somewhat amid the
ratification debates, but by 1794, both men were looking to reconcile. Henry found himself
more aligned with Washington than with Jefferson and Madison, and Washington still considered
himself indebted to Henry for notifying him about the Conway Cabal. Washington offered
Henry a seat on the Supreme Court in 1794, but he refused, feeling his family needed
him. Washington also tried to get Henry to accept positions as Secretary of State and
as minister to Spain, and Virginia Governor “Light-Horse” Harry Lee wanted to appoint
him to the Senate. Henry refused each time. Henry’s continuing popularity in Virginia
made him an attractive ally, and even Jefferson tried to recruit him, sending word though
a mutual friend that he bore no grudge. After Washington made it clear he would not seek
a third term in 1796, Marshall and Harry Lee discussed a possible Henry run for president
with him, but Henry was unwilling. The General Assembly elected him as governor again that
year, but he declined, citing age and health. Henry’s refusal to accept these offices increased
his popularity as he was, like Washington, seen as a Cincinnatus, giving up power to
return to his farm and his plow. Henry sold his property in Prince Edward County
in 1792, moving with his family to Long Island, a plantation in Campbell County. In 1794 Henry
purchased Red Hill near Brookneal, Virginia in Charlotte County, where he and his family
lived much of the year, though they moved to Long Island in the “sickly season”. Henry
was gratified at the election of his old friend John Adams as president in 1796 over his foe
Jefferson, but Henry’s commitment to the Federalist Party was tested by the repressive Alien and
Sedition Acts of 1798. He chose to say nothing, but supported the campaign of Marshall, a
moderate Federalist, for the House of Representatives; Marshall won narrowly. Henry was under considerable
pressure from Virginia Federalists to return to politics, but it was not until former president
Washington urged him to run for the legislature in early 1799 that Henry gave in. Turning
down an offer from President Adams to make him an envoy to France, Henry was elected
as delegate from Charlotte County on March 4, 1799. The legislature had no immediate
session scheduled, so he returned to Red Hill, and never left again, dying there of stomach
cancer at his home on June 6, 1799. He was buried at Red Hill.In Henry’s will, he left
his estates and his 67 slaves to be divided between his wife and his six sons. He did
not free any slaves, despite his speeches against enslavement by tyrants and despite
his various comments opposing the institution of slavery itself.The tributes to Henry upon
his death were many. The Virginia Gazette printed a death notice bordered in black,
“As long as our rivers flow, or mountains stand, Virginia … will say to rising generations,
imitate my H E N R Y”. The Petersburg Intelligencer regretted the death of a man who might have
been able “to conciliate all parties and produce that harmony and accord” needed at a time
of national controversy. The Argus, a paper which supported Jefferson’s faction, noted
that Henry “pointed out those evils in our Constitution … against which we now complain
… If any are disposed to censure Mr. Henry for his late political transition [to supporting
the Federalists], if anything has been written on that subject, let the Genius of American
Independence drop a tear, and blot it out forever.”==
Monuments and memorials==Several of Henry’s homes are recognized for
their association with him. Scotchtown Plantation is a National Historic Landmark. The Red Hill
Patrick Henry National Memorial preserves Henry’s final home, gravesite, and his restored
law office. The site of his birthplace, which burned in 1807 and is now reduced to archaeological
remains, is also preserved; it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
A plaque placed by the Daughters of the American Revolution marks the site of Leatherwood,
in Henry County.Henry helped found Hampden-Sydney College, believing that “every free state”
should promote “useful knowledge amongst its citizens”. He was an original trustee and
sent seven of his sons there. Henry was instrumental in getting its charter passed by the General
Assembly in 1783. Emory and Henry College in Emory, Virginia was named for him and John
Emory, an early bishop in Virginia. According to the college, “Bishop Emory symbolizes belief
in the union of faith and learning, while Governor Henry represents the commitment to
the ideals of freedom and civic virtue.”Fort Henry stood in what is now Wheeling, West
Virginia but was at the time part of Virginia. It was built in 1774 and named Fort Fincastle
after one of Lord Dunmore’s titles, but was renamed for Henry, then governor, after independence.
Fort Patrick Henry was built during the American Revolutionary War along the South Fork Holston
River at the present-day site of Kingsport, Tennessee. This fort serves as the namesake
of Fort Patrick Henry Dam and its reservoir on the river. At least three ships have been
named in Henry’s honor: the Civil War Confederate Navy steamboat CSS Patrick Henry, World War
II Liberty ship SS Patrick Henry and the ballistic missile submarine USS Patrick Henry (SSBN-599).
Camp Patrick Henry was a World War II-era military camp near Newport News, Virginia.
Decommissioned in 1946, it became the site of the Newport News/Williamsburg International
Airport on 925 acres (3.74 km2). When opened in 1949, the airport was called Patrick Henry
Field, and was later renamed Patrick Henry International Airport, a name it retained
until 1990. The airport code is still PHF.Patrick Henry has been honored twice on U.S. postage
stamps. On October 7, 1955, the United States Post Office Department issued a $1 definitive
stamp honoring Henry, one of the high values in the Liberty issue. A painting of Henry
by American artist Alonzo Chappel (1828–1887) was used as the inspiration and as the model
by the engraver for this issue. In 1960–1961, the U.S. Post Office issued the American Credo
series, six stamps with well-known patriotic quotations. Patrick Henry’s most famous words
are inscribed on the final issue in the series, a 4-cent stamp first released in Richmond
on January 11, 1961.==Legacy and historical view==
As historian Richard Beeman put it, Henry was a man who “did not bother to write much
of anything down”, a handicap when being evaluated by history. The lack of primary source materials
regarding Henry—only a handful of papers and a few of his speeches survive—has frustrated
Henry’s biographers from Wirt (1817) to Beeman (1974): Wirt commented two years before publishing
his book, “It is all speaking, speaking, speaking. ‘Tis true he could talk—Gods! how he could
talk! but … to make the matter worse, from 1763 to 1789 … not one of his speeches lives
in print, writing or memory”. Beeman, for his part, concluded, “the Revolutionary firebrand,
whatever his achievements, possessed a miserable sense of history”. This was a deficiency not
possessed by Jefferson, who not only survived Henry by a quarter century, but who got to
fill the vacuum of information about Henry with his own recollections and opinions. Wirt
did not print many of Jefferson’s criticisms of Henry, who had irritated Jefferson to such
an extent he was still criticizing Henry to guests at Monticello in 1824. Jefferson’s
negative assessments of Henry, whether justified or not, have adversely affected Henry’s historical
reputation.Henry has always been acclaimed by Americans for the brilliance of his political
oratory. Kukla wrote,”Henry explained the Revolution to ordinary men and women through
America in words they understood—and inspired them to fight for liberty.” Mayer argued,
“Henry had forged a popular and partisan political style whose democratic implications took another
generation to realize fully and accept. His career pointed the transition from the political
squirearchy of the eighteenth century to the mass politics of Andrew Jackson’s day”. In
his study of Henry’s oratory, David A. McCants suggested that Henry’s position as great American
orator of his day was not so much because of his “heroism and eloquence” but for adapting
the clashing philosophies, religious and political, that met in Henry’s Virginia, to create a
new style of oratory that appealed to the masses. According to Tate, “by his unmatched
oratorical powers, by employing a certain common touch to win the unwavering loyalty
of his constituents, and by closely identifying with their interests, he almost certainly
contributed to making the Revolution a more widely popular movement than it might otherwise
have become”. Kidd argued that the historical focus on the quality of Henry’s oratory may
result from a discomfort with the content of his speeches, especially his opposition
to the Constitution.During the Civil War era, both sides claimed Henry as a partisan, abolitionists
citing his writings against slavery, and those sympathetic to the Southern cause pointing
to his hostility to the Constitution. That opposition by Henry came to be seen by many
writers, even those friendly to Henry, as a blot on an otherwise admirable career. Beeman,
writing in 1986, just before the Constitution’s bicentennial, predicted that during that anniversary,
“it will be hard to avoid depicting Henry as one of history’s losers, as one too short-sighted
to see beyond the bounds of his own native state to glimpse the promise of national greatness
embodied in the federal Constitution.”Henry has been cited as a hero to both Left and
Right, but has become a particular favorite of the latter. He is especially attractive
to Christian conservatives, who cite his deep religious beliefs, as well as his writings
and speeches in favor of Christian virtue, and in defense of religious liberty. Because
Henry was educated at home, by his father, he has become a symbol of the homeschooling
movement. In 2000, Patrick Henry College was founded in Purcellville, Virginia, in large
part for those who had been homeschooled. Although Henry’s most famous declaration has
proved as adaptable as ever in the hands of the Right (one sign at a Tea Party rally in
2010 read “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Debt”), according to Kidd, “few Americans today, Tea
Partiers or others, take seriously Henry’s fundamental criticisms of the Constitution.”Tate
wrote of Henry, “Of the numerous leaders who were active largely at the state level and
who generally opposed ratification of the Federal Constitution, Henry was one of the
few who came to be ranked among the truly major figures of the American Revolution.”
Kukla concurred, noting that except for two years in the Continental Congress, Henry never
held national office, “and yet he was a founder of the republic”. Kidd noted the hazy view
of Henry that Americans today have: Henry’s memory has taken on a vague, patriotic
cast that fails to capture his fractious yet exemplary life. The “real” Henry was branded
a traitor and apostate on multiple occasions by his many enemies, including Thomas Jefferson.
His vision of the American republic was not a matter of sentiment and grand words and
gestures; it was grounded in virtue, religious faith, and responsive local government. Standing
against his fellow Founders James Madison and Thomas Jefferson at almost every turn
in the 1780s and ’90s, and steadfastly opposing the adoption of the Constitution, he was the
boldest of patriots.==See also==
Gerrymandering in the United States History of Virginia==
Notes=====Source bibliography===
Beeman, Richard R. (July 1987). “The Democratic Faith of Patrick Henry”. The Virginia Magazine
of History and Biography. 95 (3): 301–316. ISSN 0042-6636.
Campbell, Norine Dickson (1969). Patrick Henry: Patriot and Statesman. New York, NY: The Devin-Adair
Company. OCLC 694997. Kidd, Thomas S. (2011). Patrick Henry: First
Among Patriots. New York, NY: Basic Books. ISBN 978-0-465-00928-2.
Kukla, Jon (2017). Patrick Henry: Champion of Liberty. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.
ISBN 978-1-4391-9081-4. Mayer, Henry (1986). A Son of Thunder: Patrick
Henry and the American Republic. New York, NY: Grove Press. ISBN 978-0-8021-3815-6.
McCants, David A. (1990). Patrick Henry, the Orator. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. ISBN
978-0-313-26210-4. McDonnell, Michael A. (2012). The Politics
of War: Race, Class and Conflict in Revolutionary Virginia. Chapel Hill, NC: The University
of North Carolina Press. ISBN 978-1-4696-0107-6. Meade, Robert D. (1957). Patrick Henry: Patriot
in the Making. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott. OCLC 964630.
Morgan, Edmund S.; Morgan, Helen M. (1995) [1953]. The Stamp Act Crisis: Prologue to
Revolution. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 978-0-8078-4513-4.
Raphael, Ray (2004). Founding Myths: Stories that Hide Our Patriotic Past. New York, NY:
The New Press. ISBN 978-1-56584-921-1.==Further reading==
Beeman, Richard R. (1974), Patrick Henry: A Biography, New York, NY: McGraw-Hill. ISBN
0-07-004280-2 Jewett, Thomas (2004), Patrick Henry: America’s
Radical Dissenter, Early America Review Summer/Fall 2004
Meade, Robert D. (1969), Patrick Henry: Practical Revolutionary, Philadelphia, NY: Lippincott
Unger, Harlow (2010), Lion of Liberty: Patrick Henry and the Call To a New Nation, Cambridge,
MA: Da Capo Press. ISBN 978-0-306-81886-8===Primary sources===
William Wirt Henry, ed. Patrick Henry, Life, Correspondence, and Speeches (1891, 3 vol.),
reprints much of the existing primary source material==External links==Henry’s Early Life and Times from Patrick
Henry National Memorial Patrick Henry, Voice of the American Revolution
Works by Patrick Henry at Project Gutenberg Patrick Henry as subject at Project Gutenberg
Works by or about Patrick Henry at Internet Archive
Works by Patrick Henry at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
Works by Patrick Henry at Open Library Text of 1775 “Liberty or death” speech
Address opposing US Constitution Patrick Henry letters
Patrick Henry Monument, Henry County, Virginia Scotchtown, Henry family home from 1771–1778
Patrick Henry at Find a GraveArchival Records A Guide to the Executive Papers of Governor
Patrick Henry, 1784–1786 at The Library of Virginia

1 thought on “Patrick Henry | Wikipedia audio article

  • 50 views , Come on people this is some of the most important stuff to know about the Country and our liberties your for fathers fought and some died for.
    Stand up for your God given liberties or government will convince you those liberties are afforded you by them, there for are there’s to take away.
    Our liberties do not come from the Constitution, the Constitution is “suppose to” prevents government from infringing on them.

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