Patrick Henry

By Rebecca Cheung

Childhood and Important Life Events

Patrick Henry was born on May 29,1736 on a tobacco plantation named Studley in Virginia.He had two brothers and seven and his parents were John Henry and Sarah Winston Syme. He spent his time going hunting with his brothers in the woods and listening to nature around him. You might say that he was an observant child,always in awe of things happening. He was also very musical,learning both the fiddle and flute,as well as the violin in time. As for education,he received much of his schooling from his father and uncle at the age of 10. Patrick's uncle,Parson Henry,taught him "to be true and just in all my dealings,To bear no malice nor hatred in my heart.To keep my hands from picking and stealing.Not to covet other men's goods;but to learn and labor truly to get my own living,and to do my duty in that state of life unto which it hall please God to call me." I believe he has kept and followed this quote throughout his life by his actions.

He also developed a strong sense of opinion as a young boy. His mother,Sarah,was very religious and attended to services held by Presbyterian preachers and Patrick,needless to say,also went with his mother. However,going to these places were illegal at the time. The law stated that EVERYONE had to attend the Episcopal church and ONLY this type of church. But Sarah didn't care,she stood up for what she believed in and just kept on doing and going to wherever she pleased. I believe Patrick looked up to his mother as a role model because he also had his way of thinking of fairness and just. He had already thought at a young age that the law for church was wrong and unfair. In fact,he enjoyed listening to the sermons,they interested him. The preacher has influenced the way he has become-not only did he repeat the words of them sermon,he imitated the WAY the pastor said them.He does them in different ranges. At times soft,other times loud.For emphasis he even threw his fist in the air or acted lazy at parts.His actions and great speeches that are soon to come were influenced deeply by watching Reverend Davies.

At the age of 15,Henry ran a store for his father. The business,sadly,came crashing down fast and simultaneously, he had his first bitter taste of the experience of failure. Nothing he did to earn money for the family seemed to work,as if it wasn't Patrick's duty for the world or his life to be whatever he tried. When he married Sarah Shelton,he received farm land as well as six slaves as part of her dowry. For he was a good and caring man, he worked alongside the slaves on his own will. He tried growing tobacco for three years,but was unsuccessful in the end. The farmhouse even burned down in a fire soon after that. But he pushed aside the terrible thoughts and events and continued on with life. He became a lawyer as time went on and it had definitely served him well. His talents and gift of speech has gotten him far in life.

Give Me Liberty: Patrick Henry-Voice of the Revolution (clip)

Accomplishments & Contributions to Change

What else is there to say? Words. The gift of persuasion. Speeches with deep meanings that made people think afterwards. This was all Patrick Henry did to help people and resolve the issues that America had. This was all he did to be significant in the biggest issue that America had-the U.S.'s fight for freedom. In 1760 he got his law license. As a lawyer,he gave an impression,an aura,of being a powerful and persuasive speaker;it was known to all. It's truly amazing of the fact that the way he spoke led people to act for his beliefs. The things he said made many Americans decide to fight in the Revolutionary war,such as-"Perfect freedom is as necessary to the health and vigor of commerce as it is to the health and vigor of citizenship." He even helped with changing tactics to improve the chance of succeeding and winning the war,in a more poetic and patriotic way-"...Virtue,morality,and religion. This is the armor,my friend,and this alone that renders us invincible. These are tactics we should study. If we lose these,we are conquered,fallen long as our manners and principles remain sound,there is no danger." He helped people feel confident and determined to retrieve the freedom that they needed. REMINDED them to remember what others had fought so hard to obtain. Nothing held him back,he said what he believed in,and his actions of expressing his opinions freely could have gotten him in prison anytime. He insisted that only the colony itself should have the say and decide what's best for the colony. This led to his words being printed on paper and read by others in the colonies,growing a need to be freed from British rule. At the debate on how to solve the problem about Great Britain,Patrick Henry gave one of his well-known speeches in history. Before the army fired at the enemy,he pronounced on March 23,1775-"Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle?...Is life so dear,or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbit it,Almighty God! I know not what course others may take;but as for me,give me liberty or give me death!"

Interesting Facts(interwining with a bit more Contributons to Change)

By 1763,Henry realized that he wanted to help ordinary people everywhere and that he was indeed an "eloquent patriot". For ten years he used his talents and with the help of his supporters,led the anti-British movement in the Virginia legislature. He was in the military in 1775 and led soldiers to pay for gunpowder from an arsenal,but soon afterwards quit due to the lack of passion for the job and the thought of not being suited for it either. In the same year of the signing of the Declaration of Independence,1776, he was elected for first governor of Virginia. Henry used those 3 terms of being a wartime governor to good use,using Virginia's resources to help support the Continental Army and Congress. During these years,he also passed many reforms that changed Virginia to a self-government. I believe we should take something from his actions and apply them to our lives. Being strong and keeping what you want a possibility and doing your part to help with problems the world is having today. Use your talents to good use and spread the word for others to chip in and help. This man has influenced perhaps even you today.


  • -Grote, JoAnn A. Patrick Henry: American Statesman and Speaker. Philadelphia, PA: Chelsea House, 2000. Print
  • A&E Networks Television, N.p n.d. Web. 14 Apr.2015
  • "Patrick Henry: Voice of Freedom." Patrick Henry: Voice of Freedom. N.p n.d. Web. 16 Apr. 2015
  • "Patrick Henry." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, N.p n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2015
  • "World Biography." Patrick Henry Biography. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2015
  • "Patrick Henry - Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death." Patrick Henry - Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2015