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Patrick Henry’s Speech to the Virginia House of Burgess, Richmond, Virginia March 23, 1775
Lit2Go ^ | January 1817

Posted on 02/13/2014 4:55:36 PM PST by 2ndDivisionVet

No man thinks more highly than I do of the patriotism, as well as abilities, of the very worthy gentlemen who have just addressed the House. But different men often see the same subject in different lights; and, therefore, I hope that it will not be thought disrespectful to those gentlemen, if, entertaining as I do opinions of a character very opposite to theirs, I shall speak forth my sentiments freely and without reserve.

This is no time for ceremony. The question before the House is one of awful moment to this country. For my own part I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty towards the majesty of heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.

Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren, till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation?

For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth—to know the worst and to provide for it. I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided; and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. And judging by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the British ministry for the last ten years, to justify those hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves and the House?

Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received? Trust it not, sir; it will prove a snare to your feet. Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss. Ask yourselves how this gracious reception of our petition comports with these warlike preparations which cover our waters and darken our land. Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled that force must be called in to win back our love? Let us not deceive ourselves, sir. These are the implements of war and subjugation—the last arguments to which kings resort. I ask gentlemen, sir, what means this martial array, if its purpose be not to force us to submission? Can gentlemen assign any other possible motives for it? Has Great Britain any enemy, in this quarter of the world, to call for all this accumulation of navies and armies?

No, sir, she has none. They are meant for us; they can be meant for no other. They are sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains which the British ministry have been so long forging. And what have we to oppose to them? Shall we try argument? Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years. Have we anything new to offer on the subject? Nothing.

We have held the subject up in every light of which it is capable; but it has been all in vain. Shall we resort to entreaty and humble supplication? What terms shall we find which have not been already exhausted? Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves longer.

Sir, we have done everything that could be done to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and Parliament.

Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne. In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope.

If we wish to be free—if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending—if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained, we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of Hosts is all that is left us!

They tell us, sir, that we are weak—unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance, by lying supinely on our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot?

Sir, we are not weak, if we make a proper use of the means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us.

The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. 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!

Patrick Henry – March 23, 1775


TOPICS: Government; History; Military/Veterans; Politics
KEYWORDS: liberty; resistance; revolution; revolutionarywar
Just a reminder.
1 posted on 02/13/2014 4:55:36 PM PST by 2ndDivisionVet
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

He was amazing! He vehemently fought to retain the Articles of Confederation as opposed to adopting the Constitution. Time has proven him right.


2 posted on 02/13/2014 4:58:38 PM PST by gorush (History repeats itself because human nature is static)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
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!

Amazing Speech

3 posted on 02/13/2014 5:06:25 PM PST by 2banana (My common ground with terrorists - they want to die for islam and we want to kill them)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Thank you for that reminder, brother.


4 posted on 02/13/2014 5:10:05 PM PST by Howie66 (John Wayne McCornyn...he's just like US! Honest!)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Definitely one of my favorite speeches.


5 posted on 02/13/2014 5:11:04 PM PST by Politicalkiddo (Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crused it. -M. Twain)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
Henry's famous speech to attending Burgesses was at St. John's Church in Richmond. Williamsburg was far too dangerous for leading patriots in 1775.
6 posted on 02/13/2014 5:15:11 PM PST by Jacquerie (An Article V state amendment convention is our only hope.)
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To: gorush

Patrick Henry was appointed a Virginia delegate to the federal convention in Philadelphia. He didn’t attend.


7 posted on 02/13/2014 5:17:32 PM PST by Jacquerie (An Article V state amendment convention is our only hope.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

How sadly this nation has regressed in the ability to speak and write English. Sadder still is our lazy acceptance of “security” over the freedom won by the blood of better men.


8 posted on 02/13/2014 5:20:00 PM PST by txrefugee
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To: gorush
"He vehemently fought to retain the Articles of Confederation as opposed to adopting the Constitution. Time has proven him right."

I agree that Henry, like many of the founders, was an amazing man, but I'm not so sure perpetuating the Articles of Confederation would have necessarily been the right thing to do. The Constitution is an inspired document, and most of our nation's failings at present are not the result of the Constitution, but rather our collective failure to abide by it. Purely speculative, but had we retained the AoC, we may have devolved into two or more smaller tyrannies by now.

9 posted on 02/13/2014 5:20:25 PM PST by Joe 6-pack (Qui me amat, amat et canem meum.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Bfl. Thanks.


10 posted on 02/13/2014 5:21:57 PM PST by Jane Long (While Marxists continue the fundamental transformation of the USA, progressive RINOs assist!)
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To: Joe 6-pack

Certainly possible, but it’s fun to theorize. What would have happened if Lee had taken the heights at Gettysburg? We Americans have been blessed by the circumstances that allowed our existence. It is a shame that we have squandered them...but it was probably inevitable, humans being humans.


11 posted on 02/13/2014 5:25:17 PM PST by gorush (History repeats itself because human nature is static)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Amazing and appropriate today as we watch our government trample our rights with one hand and use the other to arm to the teeth the domestic agents of the state.


12 posted on 02/13/2014 5:26:43 PM PST by RightOnTheBorder
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Patrick Henry represented my ggggrandmother’s brother who was convicted in VA of preaching the word of God without a license to do so.


13 posted on 02/13/2014 5:33:26 PM PST by Mercat
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To: RightOnTheBorder

“Our government” wasn’t imposed on us by an invading force of any sort. We have only ourselves to blame for our distress.


14 posted on 02/13/2014 5:33:52 PM PST by Jacquerie (An Article V state amendment convention is our only hope.)
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To: Joe 6-pack; gorush
September 12th, 1787 Cover Letter to the draft Constitution:

We have now the honor to submit to the consideration of the United States in Congress assembled, that Constitution which as appeared to us the most adviseable.

The friends of our country have long seen and desired, that the power of making war, peace and treaties, that of levying money and regulating commerce, and the correspondent executive and judicial authorities should be fully and effectually vested in the general government of the Union: but the impropriety of delegating such extensive trust to one body of men is evident. Hence results the necessity of a different organization.

It is obviously impracticable in the foederal government of these States to secure all rights of independent sovereignty to each, and yet provide for the interest and safety of all-Individuals entering into society must give up a share of liberty to preserve the rest. The magnitude of the sacrifice must depend as well on situation and circumstance, as on the object to be obtained. It is at all times difficult to draw with precision the line between those rights which must be surrendered, and those which may be reserved; and on the present occasion this difficulty was encreased by a difference among the several States as to their situation, extent, habits, and particular interests.

In all our deliberations on this subject we kept steadily in our view, that which appears to us the greatest interest of every true American, the consolidation of our union, in which is involved our prosperity, felicity, safety, perhaps our national existence. This important consideration, seriously and deeply impressed on our minds, led each State in the Convention to be less rigid on points of inferior magnitude, than might have been otherwise expected; and thus the Constitution, which we now present, is the result of a spirit of amity, and of that mutual deference and concession which the peculiarity of our political situation rendered indispensible.

That it will meet the full and entire approbation of every State is not perhaps to be expected; but each will doubtless consider, that had her interest alone been consulted, the consequences might have been particularly disagreeable or injurious to others; that it is liable to as few exceptions as could reasonably have been expected, we hope and believe; that it may promote the lasting welfare of that country so dear to us all, and secure her freedom and happiness, is our most ardent wish.

15 posted on 02/13/2014 5:34:07 PM PST by Jacquerie (An Article V state amendment convention is our only hope.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Fantastic speech. Maybe Mitch McConnell will deliver something like this on the Senate floor soon. SARC.


16 posted on 02/13/2014 5:35:58 PM PST by crusader71
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To: gorush

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pj0ksH2oOnA


17 posted on 02/13/2014 5:41:20 PM PST by Joe 6-pack (Qui me amat, amat et canem meum.)
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To: Jacquerie

If you’re in Richmond on a Sunday afternoon in the Summer you can still hear the speech re-enacted in the same church.


18 posted on 02/13/2014 5:41:21 PM PST by Portcall24
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To: txrefugee

I fear many Americans are going to be put to task very soon: fight for your life and the lives of your liberty-loving countrymen or find yourself shackled at the hands of goons claiming to represent the Republic but are no more men of America than a foreigner on our soil without papers.

We are going to be tested soon, ladies and gentlemen. Be prepared to answer without thought and without hesitation. Your lives will likely continue or end upon the answer.


19 posted on 02/13/2014 5:54:44 PM PST by rarestia (It's time to water the Tree of Liberty.)
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20 posted on 02/13/2014 6:11:43 PM PST by RedMDer (Happy with this, America? Make your voices heard. 2014 is just around the corner. ~ Sarah Palin)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Are the speeches made before him available? Was there a “McCain” calling him a wacko bird?


21 posted on 02/13/2014 6:13:42 PM PST by VerySadAmerican (".....Barrack, and the horse Mohammed rode in on.")
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Gentlemen may cry, “Peace! Peace!”—but there is no peace

From the book of Jeremiah


22 posted on 02/13/2014 6:15:21 PM PST by AppyPappy (Obama: What did I not know and when did I not know it?)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet; All

“Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house?”

That day is coming. Except it will be a federal agent or Army soldier or some other “authority”.


23 posted on 02/13/2014 6:18:25 PM PST by VerySadAmerican (".....Barrack, and the horse Mohammed rode in on.")
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To: rarestia

“We are going to be tested soon, ladies and gentlemen. Be prepared to answer without thought and without hesitation. Your lives will likely continue or end upon the answer.”

Indeed.


24 posted on 02/13/2014 6:23:05 PM PST by ought-six ( Multiculturalism is national suicide, and political correctness is the cyanide capsule.)
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To: VerySadAmerican

25 posted on 02/13/2014 6:25:45 PM PST by 2ndDivisionVet (I will raise $2M for Sarah Palin's next run, what will you do?)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Frighteningly relevant to today and the rulers we have now. And what will we do about it?


26 posted on 02/13/2014 6:34:38 PM PST by TBP (Obama lies, Granny dies.)
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To: TBP

What did they do?


27 posted on 02/13/2014 6:35:42 PM PST by 2ndDivisionVet (I will raise $2M for Sarah Palin's next run, what will you do?)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

And, now, with the Democrat response, Representative Maxine Waters....


28 posted on 02/14/2014 12:05:47 PM PST by gundog (Help us, Nairobi-Wan Kenobi...you're our only hope.)
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bkmk


29 posted on 02/14/2014 6:14:38 PM PST by AllAmericanGirl44
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