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It is Time Again to Say, “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death.”

 

About the author: Lori Boxer is the co-owner and Director of Weight No MoreSM Diet Center, a family-owned private weight loss and diet counseling practice for over 25 years with offices in New York and New Jersey, as well as client service nationwide via Skype. There are no pills, no packaged foods, no diet drinks as ... [read 's FULL BIO]

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Many will post this day, America’s 237th birthday, about the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence—both sacred documents indeed, and both in need of continuous reading, appreciation and reverence. I would like to do something different today.

To avoid interference from Lieutenant-Governor Dunmore and his Royal Marines, the Second Virginia Convention met on March 20, 1775 inland at Richmond—in what is now called St. John’s Church—instead of the Capitol in Williamsburg. Delegate Patrick Henry presented resolutions to raise a militia, and to put Virginia in a posture of defense. Henry’s opponents urged caution and patience until the crown replied to Congress’ latest petition for reconciliation.

On the 23rd, Henry presented a proposal to organize a volunteer company of cavalry or infantry in every Virginia county. By custom, Henry addressed himself to the Convention’s president, Peyton Randolph of Williamsburg. I consider this to be one of the most stirring, emotional speeches EVER to be uttered on Freedom, on the determination to rid oneself of the boot-on-neck tyranny of iron rule … and TO BE FREE.
Please … on this day of all days … and in this time of all times … I urge you to sit back for a couple of minutes and take the time to let the following powerful words sink in. Whether you’ve read these words in the past, either whole or in part, or you’re about to read them for the first time … this is my Independence Day gift to you all, thousands of my fellow friends and patriots all over this great and glorious land—we of different faiths, colors, genders, ethnicities, drawn together by our common bonds of unbridled love of Freedom and Liberty, the emotion stirred in our hearts when we hear our National Anthem and see the beauty of our flag, and the understanding of what it truly means to be AN AMERICAN.

May God continue to bless you and your families … and may He continue to bless America.

***************

Patrick Henry
St. John’s Church
Richmond, Virginia

March 23, 1775

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. The question before the House is one of awful moment to this country. For my own part, I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfil the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offence, 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.

Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.

I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided; and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. And judging by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the British ministry for the last ten years, to justify those hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves, and the House? Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received? Trust it not, sir; it will prove a snare to your feet. Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss. Ask yourselves how this gracious reception of our petition comports with these war-like preparations which cover our waters and darken our land. Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled, that force must be called in to win back our love? Let us not deceive ourselves, sir. These are the implements of war and subjugation; the last arguments to which kings resort. I ask, gentlemen, sir, what means this martial array, if its purpose be not to force us to submission? Can gentlemen assign any other possible motive for it? Has Great Britain any enemy, in this quarter of the world, to call for all this accumulation of navies and armies? No, sir, she has none. They are meant for us; they can be meant for no other. They are sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains which the British ministry have been so long forging. And what have we to oppose to them? Shall we try argument? Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years. Have we anything new to offer upon the subject? Nothing. We have held the subject up in every light of which it is capable; but it has been all in vain. Shall we resort to entreaty and humble supplication? What terms shall we find which have not been already exhausted? Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves. Sir, we have done everything that could be done, to avert the storm which is now coming on. 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. 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. 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! An appeal to arms and to the God of Hosts is all that is left us!

They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance, by lying supinely on our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? 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; 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. Besides, sir, we have no election. 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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  • Lori Toupal

    Careful, Lori, or you’ll have Homeland Security on your doorstep for ‘treason’.

    • loriboxer

      I’ll gladly take that chance.

  • Jim

    I will cover your back Lori

  • Dean

    There are no statesman left in this country who could stand in the floor of congress and state those inspiring words. It’s no more “for country” it’s “what’s in it for me” . Sad!

    • Clint

      Dean, if by statesman you mean those who presently serve as statesman, I agree with you, sir. But if by statesman we mean simply people of our nation who love liberty, freedom and truth, some names come to mind. I think of the scholar Dr. Sowell who is every bit as eloquent as the great Patrick Henry. I think of Lt. Col Al West who although eloquent, may not be quite so eloquent as Dr. Sowell, yet is eloquent in the sense of a leader who can rally the troops and instill into those troops courage and cohesiveness and a willingness to fight for true liberty, freedom and truth. Something we haven’t gotten from Washington in many, many years. If I were to name all the leaders who come to mind, Jan Morgan comes to mind and she is just one of many ladies who qualify. Are there no more Patrick Henrys? I think that remains to be seen. There is one thing I do know for certain, we are not a nation of cowards, rather we are a nation of patriots who love true liberty, personal freedom for all the citizens of our nation, and we love truth. I said in another post last night, and I will repeat if here:
      “Life without liberty, freedom and truth, is not life at all.”
      Semper Fidelis Maybe the next Patrick Henry will be named Patricia? Never know.

      • Whackajig

        Clint, we didn’t used to be a nation of cowards, but what must we be called, when the need is so great for change among the chits in Washington and yet more than half the nation votes for the food stamp party. If we are not cowards what do you call weak knee’d wimps who only write letters? Those who founded this nation were aware of the actual use of a firearm.

    • George Gilbert

      I would. But theyd never let me In. but Im sayin it NOW. Time to LOCK n LOAD too. If ever there as a time for another Revolution, this is it. IMHO

  • blair152

    Twelve years later, Patrick Henry spoke out against the Constitution. Making him an Anti- Federalist. We was willing to put the states above the federal government ensuring that we stayed under the weak, and ineffectual, Articles of Confederation. By the way, the reference to chains and slavery was indirectly about his wife. Patrick Henry’s wife had gone insane and was chained in the basement of his plantation house when he was giving that speech at St. John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia. As the late Paul Harvey used to say, “NOW YOU KNOW THE REST OF THE STORY!”

    • jmach11

      Yes, Henry was against the Constitution because he feared an abusive federal government. That is the reason the 10th Amendment was added. That doesn’t invalidate his speech as patriotic 12 years earlier. The Articles of Confederation were ineffective because there was no remedy for disputes between states. The federal government was instituted in our Constitution to resolve those disputes. Unfortunately, what we have now is exactly what Henry and our founding father’s feared. The federal government dictating to the states instead of mediating disputes.

      • blair152

        I didn’t say it did. Henry had his wife chained in the basement of his plantation house which is why he made the reference in the first place. The Continental Congress wrote a letter to King George III because they wanted reconciliation. King George III didn’t want it. If you remember, he declared the American Colonies as being “in Rebellion and Outside My Protection.” At the beginning of the Revolution, the Continental Congress was reluctant to go for independence or even create a navy. Read George Washington’s Secret Navy by James L. Nelson on that. One of the grievances against King George III was about the impressment of American seamen. The other was about slavery but Congress took the one about slavery out to appease the Southern planters. (That included Jefferson).

        • HappyClinger

          It wasn’t to appease the “southern planters.” There was a much bigger picture involving slavery, most notably in Great Britain’s support of slavery, the politics of which were complications the Founders wisely left for another day.

          Contrary to the progressive leftists’ view of slavery, America did not invent it. As a matter of fact, WE ENDED IT. The captain of the first slaving ship to land in America in the 1700’s was arrested, and the colonists used their own money to send the captured slaves back to their homes.

          Read up. You might find a few eye-opening details your history teachers (members of the teachers’ union, no doubt) left out in order to indoctrinate you into an anti-American viewpoint.

          • blair152

            The Founding Fathers didn’t want to deal with slavery because it would have torn the country apart. As for when the first slave ship arrived in this country, you’re wrong. It was 1619. A Dutch ship arrived in Jamestown with a load of slaves. The Abolitionist movement began in Britain. I suggest you watch the Ioann Gruffudd movie Amazing Grace. It’s about William Wilberforce’s twenty-year fight to ban slavery in the British Empire. It worked. Sierra Leone was the first country in Africa to be founded by freed slaves. After Britain passed the Anti-Slavery Act 1807, the Royal Navy established an Antislavery Patrol. John Paul Jones, the Father of the United States Navy, was the captain of a slave ship. So, too, was John Newton, the composer of Amazing Grace. I went to school in the late ’70s and early ’80s. That was before the backlash against the teachers’ unions. I had one teacher who was a former Air Force G2, (intelligence officer), and a retired lieutenant colonel in the Air Force. Hardly a left-wing loony tune. The 3/5ths Compromise was to buy time. The Constitution said that slavery wouldn’t be dealt with until 1808. Unlike the British, when we established our own antislavery patrol, the Africa Squadron, it wasn’t glamorous. Ships were routinely stripped from the Africa Squadron to go to the Caribbean Squadron to fight pirates. I read that in a book about the U.S. Navy. Slavery in this country didn’t end until 1865 with the passage of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments. That’s a fact. The ONLY time the U.S. Navy and Royal Navy worked together was 1859 which was just before the Civil War.

      • Clint

        Amen brother.

  • moberndorf

    How timely his words…

    • SamH II

      full circle…

  • Anna

    That is great! Thank you for reminding us of the History of the Past and for allowing us the privilege of reminiscing it’s truth’s as we forge into our future seeking for resolution of our own conflict’s.

    There is nothing to fear in reminding us of our past, would a Professor of History be hauled away for students reading this letter? Absurd.

    May God bless you and your family as well, and may God ruler over ALL bringing His completion toward true peace soon.

  • Chip Freitas

    I don’t see any citation. Your first paragraph is copied, word for word from http://www.history.org/almanack/life/politics/giveme.cfm… If you’re going to plagiarize, at least try to take it from somewhere a little more obscure that the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s website.