Patrick Henry Was Born
May 29, 1736
Have you ever heard someone speak so
passionately that the speech moved you to do something? Even as
a young man, Patrick Henry had that kind of influence in the
American Colonies. Born on May 29, 1736, Henry, a natural leader
and a brilliant speaker, believed in individual rights and
independence from the British government. As a young lawyer, he
astonished his courtroom audience in 1763 with an eloquent
defense based on the idea of natural rights, the political
theory that humans are born with certain inalienable (incapable
of being surrendered) rights. The idea of natural rights is
central to the Declaration of Independence. Does this sentence
from the Declaration sound familiar to you? "We hold these
Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that
they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable
Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of
It was in St. John's Church in Richmond,
Virginia, that Patrick Henry delivered his most famous speech.
With war against Great Britain looming, Henry proclaimed, "I
know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me
liberty or give me death!"
As the first governor of
Virginia and as a state legislator, Henry continued to have
profound influence on the development of the new nation. He
worked for the addition of the first ten amendments to the
Constitution. Known as the Bill of Rights, they guarantee
certain freedoms, such as the freedom of speech and religion.
Can you imagine the U.S. without such rights?