It was in year 1775, exactly on the 23rd of March that one of the most brilliant speeches in the world was delivered at a church in front of a Virginian audience. The speech was delivered by Sir Patrick Henry, a respected politician and orator during his time, who primarily sought the freedom of the state he governed. Henry today is most remembered for his oration later called as “Give me Liberty, or Give me Death!” and his works to denounce the hold of Great Britain to American isles.
For more than 30 years, a printed version of “Give me Liberty, or give me Death!” was still nonexistent. Henry’s death happened 24 years after the infamous delivery but he had not left a copy behind. Only those who attended the gathering, which included United States former presidents Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, knew how much the speech meant and that it stirred the people. Up to now, although statesmen and previous US Attorney general William Wirt have come up with a vague copy and translation of the speech, the words are still uncertain and the exact reaction of the crowd was still unheard of.
The only thing that historians could agree with on the speech was how it moved and stimulated patriotism among his guests to American patriotism. The first paragraph that Henry has said was enough to stir reaction from his listeners. He pledged to speak and verge only on the truth he knew, to give out his own opinions no matter how different they may be from the rest. Henry said that to keep his ideas to himself would save him a lot of rifts between his mates but would anger the King of Kings, God himself.
He criticized war and all the acts of Great Britain which claimed that they were done for love. The orator believed otherwise. Britain as he said was treating them as subordinates and not as equals. It has been leeching into their country and Americans have had no choice from the very start. Argument and peaceful disagreement had saved them none in the past years. Allowing themselves to be underdogs, meanwhile, was simply a shame to their parts.
In his speech Henry had convinced Virginia that all the acts they had done to achieve peace had not worked, is not working and will never work. The solution he saw was to fight, and to fight not soon but now. The battle, as he said, was to be strong, alert, active and bold with God on their side. From everything that had happened, he foresaw war coming and instead of fear, he encouraged his brothers to embrace it. He ended his famous speech with the equally famous quote, “I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” The audience welcomed his speech with the same cry.
Henry’s speech had not ended in vain. A month later, the Battle of Lexington and Concord started – the first event that marked the start of the Revolutionary War of 1775 to 1783.