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Famous Speeches of American Independence

"The record of that Freedom for all individuals was made physical in the Declaration of Independence as a Law in the human procedure of the world.
The recording of the rights of human beings to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are the foundation for the operation of a government."

Beloved Saint Germain - Shrine Class, Los Angeles, July 4, 1938

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A Virginia lawyer who had a reputation as one of the greatest opponents of British taxation. A gifted orator and major figure in the American Revolution, in this speech he argues passionately for Colonial independence.

Patrick Henry

“Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” - Virginia Convention, 1775
In this unforgettable speech, Henry made a powerful call to action to American Patriots, a call that would galvanize the colonies into declaring independence from Great Britain:
“In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope. If we wish to be free if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained, we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight!”

His Appeal to God's Providence:
“An appeal to arms and to the God of Hosts is all that is left us! Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations; and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave… There is no retreat but in submission and slavery!”

Patrick Henry
“Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death”

BACKGROUND
Henry’s speech took place a few months after the assembly of the first Continental Congress had sent King George III a petition for the redress of grievances. Boston Harbor was being blockaded by the British in retaliation for the Boston Tea Party.

HIS MOTIVATION
Revolution seemed inevitable, yet many political leaders in Virginia held out hope that the relationship with Great Britain could be restored. Patrick Henry sought to dispel them of that notion

THEME OF HIS SPEECH
Henry made his case clear in the opening of his speech stating, “For my own part, I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery…” He chides the Virginia assembly for indulging in “illusions of hope” for passively waiting “to be betrayed with a kiss” and for falling prey to the siren songs of the British.

KEY FACTS STATED IN HIS SPEECH

Henry reminds the Virginia assembly of the lengths the colonists have gone to in order to plead their case to the British, “We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and Parliament.”

He then states how the British have received such outreach, “Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne.”

Henry reminds the Virginia assembly of the lengths the colonists have gone to in order to plead their case to the British, “We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and Parliament.” 

He then states how the British have received such outreach, “Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne.”

March 23, 1775

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