Patrick Henry and the Declaration of Independence

How did it ever happen that the Declaration of Independence was written and approved? Why did it even come up? Originally it was the result of several Virginians.

The Second Continental Congress was called on May 10, 1775, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Patrick Henry was elected by the people of Virginia to represent them at their own State convention. It wasn’t even a State yet! But that’s why Patrick Henry stayed home rather than attend the continuation of the Second Continental Congress like Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin. read more

Thomas Jefferson and the Crime Commission

After reviewing some things I have in common with John Adams, I had to remember why I started studying the Founding Fathers anyway. As a young lawyer I was appointed by the mayor of Phoenix, Arizona, to be a member of his “Citizens Crime Commission,” a group of volunteers who met monthly and discussed methods the Mayor could use to alleviate crime in the City.

In those days, every major city in America had such a commission. There was a National Citizens Crime Commission. It was 1976, the Bicentennial of the Declaration of Independence. The National Commission was holding its national convention in Philadelphia that year. I was elected to represent the Arizona Crime Commission at the national convention. What an honor. read more

Patrick Henry and Dolley Madison

We’ve had so much fun discovering fascinating incidents in the life of Dolley Madison, I went on longer than I had originally intended.

Just a few more items of interest. Molly Payne, Dolley’s mother, had a cousin named Patrick Henry. Patrick was a valiant Founding Father in his own right. Patrick had purchased a two story house which he, and the land title, referred to as Scotchtown. Probably because many of the immigrant workers on the nearby tin mines were from Scotland.

This home is where the Henry’s lived when Sallie Henry, Patrick’s first wife, became ill and eventually died. She died about 5 weeks before Patrick gave his immortal speech “Give Me Liberty.” Patrick had to ride horse-back from Scotchtown to Richmond, Virginia, a distance of about 28 miles, (just over a half hour by car—but Patrick went on his horse!) to attend the meeting where this speech was given. read more

Thomas Jefferson and Martha

The love story between Tom and Martha is so beautiful and enduring that it will be difficult to put any feeling into it in these few words. Jefferson was a young lawyer in Virginia, having earned his degree after 5 studious years. He graduated from William and Mary College in Williamsburg. His mentor was William Wythe, one of the signers of Tom’s Declaration of Independence.

Tom was good friends with Patrick Henry and they sometimes socialized together at dances and parties in Williamsburg. They both played the violin—sometimes at these get-togethers. And both were members of the House of Burgesses. read more

Patrick Henry and His Wives

Did I say wives? Yes. But not at the same time.

At 18 years of age, Patrick married Sarah Shelton in 1754. This was 4 or 5 years earlier than was the custom of the time. He nicknamed her “Sallie.” She was 2 years younger than Patrick. They had kind of grown up together in the same small community. Sallie was a pretty young thing with a beautiful complexion and dark brown eyes.

In talking both sets of parents into consenting to the marriage, Patrick admitted with some embarrassment, that “the passion had raced ahead of the parson!” read more

Patrick Henry’s Last Words

PatrickHenryAbout all that anyone knows about Patrick Henry is that some time in history he gave a great speech which included the words: “Give me liberty, or give me death!” And that he did. But he did much more.

He became a lawyer after studying for the bar for only 5 weeks. He spoke the words that caused the flame for independence to burn in the breast of Thomas Jefferson, his close friend. At the end of this speech he declared: “Caesar had his Brutus, Charles the First his Cromwell, . . .and George the Third . . .” read more

Benjamin Franklin and His Words

As I have given many presentations over the years, people attending my talks are often prone to asking me which of the Founding Fathers is my favorite. I sometimes say: “When I’m speaking about George Washington, he’s my favorite. When talking about Patrick Henry, he’s my favorite.” And so on.

Ben FranklinBut this much I can tell you, it’s clear to me who the favorite Founding Father is in the hearts of my listeners. It’s obviously Benjamin Franklin. My lectures about Ben are the most popular, bring the highest attendance, and produce the most questions and comments. And I do love Benjamin Franklin. read more

Our Founding Fathers Were Not Bashful

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen things were getting rough in the Colonies, there were a few men who stood up for things they believed in. It started with Patrick Henry in his speech as he was first elected to the house of Burgesses. Thomas Jefferson, his friend, listened in at the door of the Capitol in Williamsburg, as Henry made his speech, from notes written in the flyleaf of Jefferson’s loaned book!

Tom said that a spark for independence was lighted at that event that moved Jefferson to know the Colonies were on the road to independence. read more

George Washington’s Birthday

I just read a short story around the idea that if something needs to be done, perhaps you should do something. In part it said: “If you see a need, don’t ask ‘Why doesn’t somebody do something?’ Ask instead ‘Why don’t I do something?’

One day, entering into my office I said it was a shame that according to the newspaper this morning, there are many ‘white sales’, automobile sales, and furniture sales in honor of George Washington’s birthday, but there is no George Washington Birthday Celebration. read more