A VIRGINIA MAN
Patrick Henry (1736-1799) was born on May 29 in Hanover County, Virginia, to a prosperous Scottish-born planter.
After trying his hand at a number of livelihoods, Henry turned to educating himself in British and colonial law. In April 1760, the Virginia bar admitted Henry and he quickly became known for his oratory, arguing 1,000 cases in his first three years. Henry was a 29-year old freshman, just days into his service in the House of Burgesses in Williamsburg, when his fiery attack on the Stamp Act first lit the fuse of revolution. His Stamp Act Resolves and rhetoric against British tyranny soon became legendary.
“Distinctions between Virginians, Pennsylvanians, New Yorkers, and New Englanders, are no more. I am not a Virginian, but an American.”
KNOWN PASSION, UNKNOWN WORDS
Although his March 1775 Second Virginia Convention was said to be memorable, historians debate whether or not he actually used the words “give me liberty or give me death” as his speeches are all reconstructed from memory. He never wrote them down in advance.
Henry served in the Continental Congress and took up residence in the Governor’s Palace after being elected Virginia’s first governor, serving from 1776-79 and 1784-86. Like George Mason, he refused to support he Constitution because it lacked a bill of rights.
Henry married twice, first to Sarah Shelton, and then to Dorothea Dandridge. He fathered 17 children. He died on June 6, 1799.
Meet a Nation Builder
Donor Visit with a Nation Builder
Museum members and donors who contribute $250 or more annually to the Colonial Williamsburg Fund are invited to visit with a Nation Builder. Reservations strongly recommended.
Free Event Ticket
Walk through History with a Nation Builder
On this walking tour experience the 18th century community of Williamsburg and its echoes through time with one of our Nation Builders.
Please Stay Little Stranger
Follow Mrs. Rind as she examines the dangerous journey of childhood from her own life, newspaper articles, and the experiences of friends, neighbors, and their enslaved people.
Art Museums Admission