All About Patrick Henry

Connor W, Allan W, Madison B, Jennifer M

Family History

Patrick was the second son of John Henry, who was a very successful Scottish planter. John Henry married Sarah Winston Syme, a wealthy widow from a prominent Hanover County family of English Ancestry. Patrick Henry who was born in Studley, Hanover County, VA on May 29, 1736. Growing up, Patrick was educated in local schools and also tutored by both his father and uncle. His father and uncle were both college educated which meant Patrick was well read. His uncle, a Reverend in a Scottish Church, instilled good Christian values while Patrick was growing up.

Henry failed in business, which led him to marry early in life. He married Sarah Shelton in 1754 and had six children with her. He received a big Pine Slas Farm as a wedding gift from his father with six slaves, which started his early days as a planter. When Henry’s home was destroyed by fire in 1757 he attempted to start another business, which also ended in failure. In 1760 he decided to take up law as his career.


  • "Be true to yourself. When you satisfy your heart, you satisfy all." Having integrity is being yourself, setting your own path, and having personal morals. To stand out from the crowd, you show that your unique because you refuse to follow it. That's integrity.
  • Knowing and doing is the key to integrity!
  • Integrity- a firm believe or following of a code of especially moral or artistic values

In the Parson’s Cause Patrick Henry did what he felt was right by arguing a case for one parson to receive back wages and to give state’s their right to make their own law. Although the parson won the case, he was only awarded a penny in back pay. Henry’s success as being a champion for fairness was recognized.

In 1765 Brittan imposed a Stamp Act, which forced colonists to pay tax to England for newspapers and licenses. Virginia government thought this was not fair taxation because the colonies did not receive any benefit from what they paid. Henry wrote and published “Virginia’s Resolves on the Stamp Act” which stated the colony’s decisions about limiting British control over them. Henry was not afraid to take action and stay true to his beliefs.

In his famous speech “ Give me liberty or give ne death he clearly chartered his own course and was not afraid to do the right thing in order to avoid continued British oppression. Henry’s words of freedom moved people and demonstrated his integrity.

A Quote by Patrick Henry on truth, integrity and openness:

“For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth – to know the worst and provide for it”


  • Definition of Citizenship:

The state of being vested with rights, privileges, and duties of a citizen.

Patrick Henry did have citizenship. One example that shows Henry had citizenship is his “Give me Liberty or Give me Death” Speech. Not only was this speech an example of citizenship but Henry protested Against British Tyranny and for colonial rights.

As the first Governor of Virginia, Henry put forth the first ten amendments in the Bill of Rights. Two of which are clear examples of American citizenship – the freedom of speech and the freedom of religion

Contribution to/participation in colonial development/independence

Henry played a critical role in the American Revolution. He took up the Virginian cause and created committees of correspondence to coordinate the action of the colonies to the British government. In March 1773, Patrick Henry along with Thomas Jefferson and Richard Henry Lee moved the Virginia House of Burgesses to make resolutions to form a standing committee of correspondents. This was the start of the formation of the First Continental Congress in 1774. Henry was elected to this Congress.

In March 1775, Henry made his very famous speech as the House of Burgesses was deliberating on whether to appoint military forces to confront the growing British army. It was Henry who decided to vote in favor of military mobilization. His reputation of being a passionate and convincing speech giver was very clear when he said “ 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!” It is with this speech the crowds rallied around him and the colonists fought against the British oppression.

Henry was appointed the colonel of the 1st Virginia Regiment in August 1775. He led a militia to fight the Royal Governor Lord Dunmore’s forces to fix a dispute over gunpowder. This major event in the American Revolution was known as the “Gunpowder Incident”. As the first post-colonial Governor of Virginia, Henry led Virginia during the war and fought against the Cherokee Indians who were allies of the British forces.

As the first governor of Virginia and a state legislator Henry had a great influence on the development of a new nation. He worked for adding the first ten amendments to the Constitution known as the Bill of Rights. They guarantee certain freedoms such as freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

Political Affiliations

Patrick’s political ideology was Anti-Federalist, Federalist, and Anti-Administration. He was a natural leader and a brilliant speaker who believed in individual rights and independence from the British government. His first legal case as a lawyer in 1763 was a case that later became known as the “Parsons Cause”. With this case Henry earned a name for himself as a lawyer. The case made Henry argue whether the colonial government or the Crown should do the tobacco price setting, which was paid to clergy for their services. Henry fought hard and won the case as he ushered in a new dawn and gained much attention for his willingness to take a stand for what is right. In 1765 he was elected into the House of Burgesses, an aristocratic group of legislators, and became one of the leading radical members. He argued against the authority of Parliament with George Johnston and proposed a series of resolutions known as the Virginia Stamp Act Resolutions. He led the house in arguing against Great Britain, which many times were seen as acts of treason against Great Britain. Many Virginians saw Henry in a respectful manner, but Great Britain saw him as a big threat.