About 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 . . .”
Shouts of treason engulfed the meeting room, and then Henry concluded with: “If that be treason, make the most of it.”
Henry, though elected, stayed home from the Continental Congress which produced the Declaration of Independence. He wanted to be home to proceed with Independence for Virginia. Thus he was elected at the first Governor of the New State of Virginia on July 5, 1776! Yes, that’s right, July 5th, the day after the Declaration was adopted by the Congress in Philadelphia.
Patrick Henry served 5 different terms as governor, and was elected to a 6th term, but passed away before he could take office. He had fathered 17 children and retired to Red Hill. He drew up his own Last Will and Testament. With that will was found a note in which Henry had advised future generations to “practice Virtue in thyself and encourage it in others.”
Among his many accomplishments, and because of them, he was known as “America’s First Patriot.” He was a great Founding Father and an Uncommon Hero.