United States Bill of Rights and Patrick Henry Essay

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Patrick Henry
“The Voice of the American Revolution”

“Every great movement must have a variety of leaders to make it successful, and so it was with the
American Revolution. Thomas Jefferson was the philosopher of the revolution, Samuel Adams, the political organizer, George Washington, the military genius, and Patrick Henry, the orator.”
~Philip G. Davidson, Former President, University of Louisville

© 2009 by Teri Ann Berg Olsen ~ www.HomeschoolPatriot.com ~ All Rights Reserved.

Biography of Patrick Henry
Patrick Henry (1736-1799) was an eloquent orator and motivational leader at the time of the Revolutionary War. He was a great American patriot, a strong believer in citizens’ rights, and a prominent spokesman for independence from England. Protesting against
British tyranny, Patrick Henry is immortalized as the man who said, “I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”
Patrick Henry was born near Richmond, Virginia on May 29, 1736. He was the second of ten brothers and sisters. Visitors to Richmond can see the church where Patrick Henry worshiped and places where he made some of his famous speeches. Henry’s fiery and passionate speaking style was a departure from traditional oratory with its classical allusions; it was more like the dramatic preaching of evangelical ministers during the
Great Awakening of the 1730’s-40’s.
At the age of ten, Patrick was making slow progress in the study of reading, writing and arithmetic at a small country school. So for the next five years, young Patrick was tutored by his father who was a surveyor and his uncle who was a minister. Patrick learned mathematics, Latin and Greek, but his favorite subject was history. He would read and reread books about Greece, Rome, England, and the American colonies.
Patrick Henry was not interested in formal education and went to work at the age of fifteen. When he was eighteen, Patrick married sixteen-year-old Sarah Shelton. They had six children but sadly she died in an insane asylum at the young age of 21. Patrick Henry and his second wife, Dorothea Dandridge, had 11 children.
Patrick Henry tried farming and managing a general store but failed at both of these occupations. At the age of 24 he decided to study law, teaching himself by reading law books. After just six weeks of applying himself to this endeavor, Patrick took the oral bar examination and passed it. Soon he achieved great acclaim as a lawyer. Within the first three years he had already handled more than 1,000 cases and won most of them.
In 1765, Patrick Henry was elected to the House of Burgesses, which was the lawmaking body of Virginia. While there, Henry was one of the first to speak in public on the rights of the colonies to rule themselves. Henry’s moving speeches brought unity to the

© 2009 by Teri Ann Berg Olsen ~ www.HomeschoolPatriot.com ~ All Rights Reserved.

colonists and stirred them to action against the British. Henry said that they could never be free under an English government, and he persuaded Virginia to get ready for war.
The colonies did eventually go to war against England, and they became independent states. Henry was elected as the first Governor of Virginia and served for five terms. A constitution was written to establish a government for the United States. Henry opposed the adoption of the Constitution because he thought it gave too much power to the central government while taking away too many freedoms and rights from the states. This position would be taken later by his home state of Virginia at the start of the Civil War.
Patrick Henry was adamant in demanding the protection of basic individual liberties.
After the U.S. Constitution was approved, he fought tirelessly to see that the Bill of
Rights – the first ten amendments – were added. These were based on the Virginia
Declaration of Rights. Historians say that the freedoms in the Bill of Rights would never