Freedom: A History of US

Webisode 1. Segment 4
Liberty or Death

A long way south of Boston, in the colony of Virginia, Sam Adams had an ally—a young man who stood up and said what he thought. His name was Patrick Henry. Listen to the kinds of things he said: Hear It Now - Patrick Henry "If we wish to be free we must fight!... If this be treason, make the most of it!" Patrick Henry had started out as a storekeeper and then tried being a planter, and failed at both. Finally, he found his calling as a lawyer and spoke so well that he soon entered politics and was elected to Virginia's House of Burgesses. By 1775 it was no longer safe for the burgesses to gather in Virginia's capital, Williamsburg, so they met in St. John's Church in Richmond See It Now - St. John's Church. It was there that Patrick Henry gave his most famous speech See It Now - Patrick Henry's Speech. An eyewitness at the church that day described him as he became more and more passionate: "The tendons on his neck stood out white and rigid like whipcords. His voice rose louder and louder, until the walls of the building seemed to shake. Men leaned forward in their seats, their faces pale." The port of Boston was closed, Henry said. English soldiers were in the city, and the Massachusetts Assembly had been dissolved. Would Virginia sit idly by? Suddenly Henry stepped out into the aisle, bowed his head and held out his arms, pretending they were chained. This is what he said: Hear It Now - Patrick Henry "Our chains are forged—their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston. The war is actually begun. The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms." Then Patrick Henry threw off the imaginary chains, stood up straight and cried out clearly, Hear It Now - Patrick Henry "Our brethren are already in the field. Why stand we here idle?... I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death Check The Source - Eyewitness Account by Edmund Randolph!"


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