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57 Inspiring Quotes by Patrick Henry

Welcome to our collection of quotes (with shareable picture quotes) by Patrick Henry. We hope you enjoy pondering them and that you will share them widely.

Wikipedia Summary for Patrick Henry

Patrick Henry (May 29, 1736 – June 6, 1799) was an American attorney, planter, politician, and orator best known for his declaration to the Second Virginia Convention (1775): "Give me liberty, or give me death!" A Founding Father, he served as the first and sixth post-colonial Governor of Virginia, from 1776 to 1779 and from 1784 to 1786.

Henry was born in Hanover County, Virginia, and was for the most part educated at home. After an unsuccessful venture running a store, and assisting his father-in-law at Hanover Tavern, Henry became a lawyer through self-study. Beginning his practice in 1760, he soon became prominent through his victory in the Parson's Cause against the Anglican clergy. Henry was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses, where he quickly became notable for his inflammatory rhetoric against the Stamp Act of 1765.

In 1774 and 1775, Henry served as a delegate to the First and Second Continental Congresses, but did not prove particularly influential. He gained further popularity among the people of Virginia, both through his oratory at the convention and by marching troops towards the colonial capital of Williamsburg after the Gunpowder Incident until the munitions seized by the royal government were paid for. Henry urged independence, and when the Fifth Virginia Convention endorsed this in 1776, served on the committee charged with drafting the Virginia Declaration of Rights and the original Virginia Constitution. Henry was promptly elected governor under the new charter, and served a total of five one-year terms.

After leaving the governorship in 1779, Henry served in the Virginia House of Delegates until he began his last two terms as governor in 1784. The actions of the national government under the Articles of Confederation made Henry fear a strong federal government and he declined appointment as a delegate to the 1787 Constitutional Convention. He actively opposed the ratification of the Constitution, both fearing a powerful central government and because there was as yet no Bill of Rights. He returned to the practice of law in his final years, declining several offices under the federal government. A slaveholder throughout his adult life, he hoped to see the institution end, but had no plan for that beyond ending the importation of slaves. Henry is remembered for his oratory, and as an enthusiastic promoter of the fight for independence.

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Longer Version:

Are we at last brought to such humiliating and debasing degradation that we cannot be trusted with arms for our defense? Where is the difference between having our arms in possession and under our direction, and having them under the management of Congress? If our defense be the real object of having those arms, in whose hands can they be trusted with more propriety, or equal safety to us, as in our own hands?


--Patrick Henry
--Patrick Henry

Longer Version:

Bad men cannot make good citizens. It is when a people forget God that tyrants forge their chains. A vitiated state of morals, a corrupted public conscience, is incompatible with freedom. No free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue; and by a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.



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Longer Version:

They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power.


--Patrick Henry
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Longer Version:

I believe a time will come when an opportunity will be offered to abolish this lamentable evil. Everything we do is to improve it, if it happens in our day; if not, let us transmit to our descendants, together with our slaves, a pity for their unhappy lot and an abhorrence of slavery.


--Patrick Henry
--Patrick Henry
--Patrick Henry

Longer Version:

Suspicion is a virtue as long as its object is the public good, and as long as it stays within proper bounds. Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel.



--Patrick Henry
--Patrick Henry
--Patrick Henry

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