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From Freedom’s Shadow

African Americans & the U.S. Capitol The cruel irony of this nation’s founding and the U.S. Capitol is that both were made possible by the enslavement of African Americans.

We the People Program

Enhancing Civics Teaching & Learning The We the People Constitution Program engages thousands of students with an exploration of how the U.S. Constitution is alive in Washington, DC.

U.S. Capitol Historical Society
U.S. Capitol Historical Society
#OnThisDay in #History, 1775, #PatrickHenry delivered a speech to the 2nd Virginia Convention. Attributed to him is one of the most famous lines in #USHistory, “Give me Liberty or Give me Death.”

In the #Virginia legislature, Henry was known for his fierce opposition to the Stamp Act. And at the Continental #Congress, he was one of few who saw war with England as inevitable. “There was not one member, except Patrick Henry,” John Adams noted, “who appeared…sensible of the Precipice or rather the Pinnacle on which We stood, and had candor and courage enough to acknowledge it.”

Thus, when Henry returned home to attend the Convention, he spearheaded Virginia’s movement for military preparedness. But since not every delegate supported actions opposing the Crown, #OTD Henry spoke in support of his resolution for an independent militia:

“We have done everything that could be done to avert the storm which is now coming on” Henry declared, before asking, “Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction?...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!”

No record of the speech was made, but in 1817, pseudo-historian William Wirt used the recollection of living delegates like #ThomasJefferson to reconstruct Henry’s oration. To what extent it was embellished is unknown, but the once hesitant Convention passed Henry’s resolution.

In fact, colonists across #America made similar preparations, and when the British attempted to seize the weapons of the Massachusetts militia a month later, the Battles at Lexington and Concord broke out—beginning the #RevWar.

It was Henry’s words that helped guide #Americans through their struggle for liberty; and as Jefferson recalled in 1824, “it is not now easy to say what we should have done without Patrick Henry. He was far before all in maintaining the spirit of the Revolution.”
#OTD in 1775, #PatrickHenry is attributed one of the great lines in #History: “Give me Liberty or Give me Death.” Still a month from the #RevWar, Henry convinced #Virginia to form a militia. Jefferson recalled, "He was far before all in maintaining the spirit of the Revolution.” CapitolHistory photo