'Reader! Whoever thou art, remember this...'
0 comment Sunday, April 27, 2014 |

Before this day is gone, I want to take a moment to remember Patrick Henry, who was born on this day in 1736, in Hanover Co., Virginia. Patrick Henry is known to most of us for his firebrand speeches during the pre-Revolutionary period; he is sometimes called 'the Voice of the Revolution.' During his lifetime he was a lawyer, a member of the House of Burgesses in Virginia, and later, the first governor of the state of Virginia, where he served five terms.
At the website of the Red Hill National Memorial, which commemorates Patrick Henry, this quote is prominently featured: "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 the future but by the past." It's a bit of wisdom that might well be heeded by those in power in our country now, but to our shame, Patrick Henry and all the great men of his generation are neglected and their memories dishonored by the 'leaders' of our time, as they not only work assiduously but frantically to erase the America which was shaped by men like Patrick Henry.
Henry's best known speech, from March 1775, just before armed clashes broke out between the British and the colonists, contains the immortal phrase, 'give me liberty, or give me death.'' :
The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms�Let it come. I repeat, Sir, Let it come�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!��
Another quote:
...Sir, we are not weak, if we make a proper use of the 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 battle alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations; and who will raise up friends to fight our battle for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave...''
This article by Ryan McMaken at LewRockwell.com makes the case that Henry was something of a maverick and a dissenter among his revolutionary peers; he boycotted the Constitutional Convention of 1787 because he feared the consolidation of power and the eventual growth of an American empire.
If we admit this consolidated government, it will be because we like a great splendid one. Some way or other we must be a great and mighty empire; we must have an army, a navy, and a number of things: When the American spirit was in its youth, the language of America was different: Liberty, Sir, was then the primary object�But now, Sir, the American spirit, assisted by the ropes and chains of consolidation, is about to convert this country to a powerful and mighty empire."
Was he wrong? It seems as if his words were prophetic. But oddly, towards the end of his life, when he ran for the Virginia Legislature, he ran as a Federalist, to the dismay of his former supporters. Did he have a change of heart as to his former reservations about a strong federal government?
It's a little-known fact that Henry left a message for posterity, to be read after his death:
Near his last will, Patrick Henry left a small envelope sealed with wax. Inside was a single sheet of paper on which he had copied his Resolutions against the Stamp Act. On the back, Patrick Henry left a message that he knew could only be read after his death. It began with a short history of his Resolutions against the Stamp Act, which had "spread throughout America with astonishing Quickness." As a result, the colonies were united in their "Resistance to British Taxation," and won "the War which finally separated the two Countries and gave Independence to ours."
Whether America�s independence "will prove a Blessing or a Curse," Henry continued in his message to posterity, "will depend on the Use our people make of the Blessings which a gracious God hath bestowed on us. If they are wise, they will be great and happy. If they are of a contrary Character, they will be miserable. Righteousness alone can exalt them as a Nation. Reader! whoever thou art, remember this, and in thy Sphere, practice Virtue thyself, and encourage it in others. P. HENRY"

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