Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death – Patrick Henry, March 23, 1775
Countdown to Lexington & Concord
Patrick Henry was elected to serve in the Second Virginia Convention which began its session March 20, 1775 in Richmond. Virginia had grown increasingly radical as a result of the Boston Port Act the year before and the growing military presence in Boston. William Lee, the colonial agent from Virginia in London, wrote to his brother Richard Henry Lee that the Act was meant to break the city of Boston as an example to the other colonies.
On March 32, Henry delivered his historic speech to the gathered delegates.
“If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come.
It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”
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