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School was a drudgery for me. I don’t mean the
school itself. My teachers were very patient and helpful. The teachers I had
throughout elementary, junior and senior high always dressed well. The men wore
a coat and tie, and the ladies wore dresses or skirt/blouse combos. I wanted to
like the subjects, such as math, science, English composition, and so on, but
it was a continuous struggle for me to earn the barest of passing grades.
The one subject I always gravitated to was
history. World history, Ancient history, American history – it didn’t matter.
It was fascinating to me how others lived their lives and dealt with life’s
In particular, I loved American history, and
still do to this day. Of special interest to me is the Revolutionary period
from 1770-1790. This was the time of trial for an emerging nation faced with
internal conflict and external threat from the parent nation, Great Britain,
forcing the colonists to kowtow to the King of England and the pernicious
offing’s of a self-absorbed monarchy . . . or else!
The colonists who were already settled in New
England and the eastern seaboard enjoyed a thriving commercial venture with the
parent nation, England. Tea, tobacco, and cotton were just a few of the
products brought in or shipped out of the colonies. However, the government of
England ignored the growing complaints from the slighted colonists who took
umbrage to the fact that their attempts at being heard suffered a cold shoulder
by a callous, uncaring monarchy. Instead, they were given short-shrift, often
never giving audience to distant aggrieved loyal American subjects. Some
historians suggest that as many as one third of the colonists were opposed to
war with Britain.
These American colonists were faithful to the
British crown, believing that their hard work and steadfast dedication as
subjects to an ever-growing British influence world-wide would be to their
benefit. Such wishful thinking was not to be.
Colonists struggled under the increasing taxation
levied against them. In addition, they resented the heavy-handed manner imposed
by a British military requiring by force the housing of troops in American
homes against the will of the home owners. Further grievances included a deaf
ear from the British parliament concerning a myriad of issues the colonists
felt were wrongly imposed on them. Thus, the cry of “No Taxation without
Representation” was given a voice. A forced religious acceptance (the Church of
England), a free press, and a host of other protests were gaining traction
within the American colonies.
So, on March 23, 1775, Patrick Henry stood to
speak at St. John’s Church, Richmond, Virginia. It is often listed as the “Give
Me Liberty, or Give Me Death!” speech. The British army and navy had amassed
along the shoreline of Virginia. This was not a church service, or a meeting of
the congregants. No, this was a meeting of the Second Virginia Convention,
meeting in a church far away from the capital which was then Williamsburg. In
so doing, the delegates hoped not to incite reprisals from the British
Patrick Henry listened to various speakers, all
recommending supplication to the British crown. Henry had heard enough of this
blather. He is literally disgusted with the quisling attitude of his fellow
In the remainder of this article I will share
snippets of Patrick Henry’s speech. It should genuinely stir a flow of
patriotic blood coursing through your veins.
“MR. PRESIDENT: No man thinks more
highly than I do of the patriotism, as well as abilities, of the very worthy
gentlemen who have just addressed the House. But different men often see the
same subject in different lights; and, therefore, I hope it will not be thought
disrespectful to those gentlemen if, entertaining as I do, opinions of a
character very opposite to theirs, I shall speak forth my sentiments freely,
and without reserve. This is no time for ceremony . . . Should I keep back my
opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider
myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty
toward the majesty of heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.
“They tell us, sir, that we are weak;
unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger?
. . . Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God
of nature hath placed in our power. Three millions of people, armed in the holy
cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are
invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we
shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the
destinies of nations . . . The war is inevitable and let it come! I repeat it,
sir, let it come.
Roots in Ripon - Author Chuck Roots
“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!”