“Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death”
Hist. 2010 WW1
October 16, 2005
Oral History Interview of Patrick Henry
Patrick Henry’s “Give Me Liberty, or Give Me Death” speech has been stamped as one of the greatest of all time in history books. It was a time in March, 1775 that a convention took place where Virginians convened to choose and instruct delegates to the Second Continental Congress. Probably the majority of the people at the convention were fighting and arguing that peace with Britain was the best solution to dealing with the Parliament’s quest for more control. Although Patrick Henry seemed to be skeptical about making his most famous speech, he went with his heart and let his emotions run wild.
I was lucky enough to have been graced and awarded an interview with the great Patrick Henry to discuss briefly about his early life experiences with a focus on his most famous speech at the Virginia Convention. My first question to Henry was how he came to be a lawyer in such a short period of time. Patrick Henry responded with “Well, my first step in becoming a lawyer was to pass two oral examinations by different lawyers that were appointed by the colony’s Privy Court. This was quite an achievement since the majority of lawyers at this time spent well over a year in preparing and learning the material. I say that I am fortunate for passing the bar exam in about six weeks (Patrick Henry).
Before I asked about the famous speech, I asked Henry about The Parsons’ Cause that helped his name become what it is known as today. He responded “at the time, the colonial law had set clergy salaries at around sixteen thousand pounds of tobacco per year. However, in 1758 the tobacco crop had failed and Virginia’s assembly passed the Twopenny Act that provided debts payable in tobacco to be paid in paper currency at the rate of two pence per pound of tobacco. I represented one church treasurer and...
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Henry, Patrick. “Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death”. St. John’s Church, Richmond Virginia. 23 March 1775.
McCants, David A. Patrick Henry: The Orator. Scholastic Library Publishing, Inc. Greenwood, 1990.
McMaken, Ryan. Patrick Henry: Enemy of the State. LewRockwell Publishing. December 2, 2003.
Patrick Henry. American Eras. Vol. 8. Gale Research, 1997-1998. Discovering Collection. Thomson Gale. 16 October 2005 http://galenet.galegroup.com
Wirt, William. Sketches of the Life and Character of Patrick Henry. Philadelphia, 1836. Reproduced in The World’s Great Speeches, Eds. Lewis Copeland and Lawrence W. Lamm. New York, 1973.
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