“GIVE ME LIBERTY OR GIVE ME DEATH!” concluded Patrick Henry’s rousing speech delivered to the Virginia Convention on 23 May 1775. In the days leading up to Henry’s speech, the colonies’ breach with Britain had become critical. To many Virginians, war seemed imminent. However, false rumors of the British ministry’s willingness to back away from unpopular policies such as the Coercive Acts had spread, causing some to consider reconciliation again. The immediate occasion of the speech was the convention’s proposed positive response to the Jamaica assembly’s 1774 petition to the king, which asserted colonial rights but also emphasized the colony’s loyalty and its desire for harmonious relations with Britain. Henry retorted that Britain would never reconcile with the colonies on terms that would ensure colonial rights and insisted war was the only realistic option. Rather than have the convention place false hope in compromise, Henry offered a resolution to prepare the colony’s defenses for the inevitable clash with Britain. He rose to defend his motion and enjoyed one of his finest moments as an orator, giving a speech that was long and clearly remembered by those in attendance. In concluding, Henry asked, “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?” His answer: “Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” The speech rallied the convention’s spirit of resistance, the resolution passed, and Virginia took a major step toward independence. – Encyclopedia.com
- Maybe history left off the last part of Patrick Henry’s quote!
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