Jan 11, 2019 in History

Give me Liberty, or Give me Death by Patrick Henry

Freedom, for sure, is one of the greatest values for every nation, society, state, and, of course, for every person. The importance of independence is equal to peace, love, friendship, family, and justice. What must society do when enemies occupy its land, cover waters, when invaders destroy the national identity? In this case, people must make a choice between two eternal values: freedom and peace.

In 1765, Patrick Henry was elected to the lower House of Representatives in the colony of Virginia (House of Burgesses). In 1775, he presented an impassioned speech in the Parliament of Virginia in defense of the rights of American citizens. From that time, the phrase “Give me liberty or give me death” became classic. The young American lawyer Patrick Henry was one of the first who had understood a real British intention to capture American soil forever. Actually, he saw the only one way to obtain an independent, free, and sovereign state – to fight. Henry was convinced that people had to battle for independence, honor, dignity, freedom, and country; they had to fight, because there was no other option.

Henry realized that it was no time for the ceremony and that there was no need to wait for other radical British steps; he wanted Virginians to understand that. “He knew he could move men; that he could mold their thoughts; that he could convince them and bring them over to his own way of thinking. He had done it by the hour!” Young orator also tried to show Virginians that the war had already begun and that it was high time to conquer freedom: “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.”

Patrick Henry asked himself and everyone else what exactly they were waiting for, for Great Britain to become weaker or for America to become stronger. He realized that it was impossible to overtake the Britain in the development of the army and navy in those conditions, therefore, Henry considered that any expectations were only a waste of time, and he wanted everyone to know it as well. There was no time to wait until enemies came and occupied territory. From day to day, attackers became closer. They misappropriated American lands and covered waters. For sure, there was no other way.

The Value of the True in the Speech

The greatest irony was that British people hitherto cried “Peace! Peace!” However, in fact, there was no peace, there was a war. The author bombarded Virginians with the following questions: “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.” Patrick Henry pleaded with Virginians to open their eyes and to see a sore truth, even if it was very painful to admit it. He fully recognized that the value of the truth is that it is just a true. The orator wanted Virginians to throw off the shackles.

The author did not try to justify his words, ideas, and desires. He intended to show different facts, and these facts were the most stubborn thing in the whole world. Was it possible to argue that freedom and independence of the state and the nation was one of the most important, sacred duties of every citizen? Surely, it can not be impugned by any conscientious citizens of the country. Young lawyer considered the war as the most awful moment for the state. He perfectly understood the price of freedom and fully appreciated the burden of slavery. Therefore, Henry noted that the time to fight against slavery had already come. The orator indicated the importance of the war and proved that the only way left was to fight: “The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election.”

Patrick Henry was fully aware that there were many other points of view on the necessity of war, and he understood that opinions differed. The author was very tolerant towards opinions of other people, however, he was confident that he could convince them and showed his own desires clearly and completely. Henry proposed his opponents to judge the future on the past; he asked them to open their eyes and not to be blind to the truth. The young lawyer insisted on finding a way out of the critical situation, searching for the truth in the midst of lie and propaganda. He really wanted to instill a faith and confidence into souls of those who were afraid.

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He tried to show the dissidents, that they had already used all possible ways of resolving the conflict without the war: “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.” However, all the aforementioned efforts were in vain.

“By the conclusion of his speech, according to the fragmentary historical record, Henry had raised his voice to a thunderous volume and to tremendous impact, declaring: ‘Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? As for me, give me liberty or give me death!’” It was what the young orator understood very well with his brave and free heart.

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