Skip to main content
You have permission to edit this article.
Edit
Editorial: 'Give me liberty or give me death!'
Patrick Henry

Editorial: 'Give me liberty or give me death!'

  • 0
Patrick Henry

Editor’s note: Tuesday, March 23, marks the 246th anniversary of Patrick Henry’s famed “Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death” speech to the Second Virginia Revolutionary Convention, which met at St. John’s Church in Richmond. We share this excerpt:

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 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 questing 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 toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings. ...

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!

Related to this story

Most Popular

There is a natural human instinct to declare victory before it actually is achieved. From the Chicago Tribune’s infamous “Dewey Defeats Truman…

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

Topics

Breaking News