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Patrick Henry

“His Voice Flowed in Torrents of Sublime Eloquence”

Patrick Henry stirred the American colonies with his oratorical genius more than anyone else. It was said that his voice “flowed in torrents of sublime eloquence.” ■ He insisted that the colonies had the right to legislate independently of the British Parliament. “Caesar had his Brutus, Charles the First, his Cromwell, and George the Third...” Here he was interrupted with cries of “Treason! Treason!” But he concluded “...may profit from their example. If this be treason, make the most of it.” ■ Convinced that war was inevitable, Henry concluded with a fiery speech with the well-known dramatic peroration, “I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.” ■ John Henry, Patrick’s father, migrated to the colonies from Aberdeen. He served as a judge, surveyor, and army officer. Patrick was born at Studley, Virginia, in 1736. He was a successful lawyer and a leader of those who opposed the British crown. ■ He served in the Virginia House of Burgesses and was elected to the governor’s office for three terms. He and George Mason were mainly responsible for the inclusion of the Bill of Rights in the U. S. Constitution. While governor, he strongly supported Gen. George Washington and later authorized the expedition of George Rogers Clark to the Illinois territory. ■ Following a distinguished public career, he retired to his plantation in Virginia. He was soon recalled to the state legislature as its leading member. ■ In 1799, he was urged to run again for the state legislature after retirement in 1790. He did, and won, but fell ill. He died shortly after making a plea for American unity.

Wayne Rethford, President Emeritus
Illinois Saint Andrew Society
Scottish-American History Club
2800 Des Plaines Avenue
North Riverside, IL 60546