Patrick Henry was a real thorn in the side of the tyrants occupying the British Government. Where would we be without men and women who were willing to put it all on the line and speak openly and freely about the government’s abuse of power and violation of our Rights? They weren’t worried about their jobs, their reputations, their finances, or their lives. They knew that Liberty was eternal and worth more than the temporary comforts of life.
It wasn’t just Henry’s “give me Liberty, or give me death speech” that the loyalist hated. Henry’s oratory skills and confidence made him a formidable foe and a real motivator to the colonists in the fight to restore the Liberties of the British Colonists.
We must not forget Henry’s impromptu defense of Lewis Craig, Joseph Craig, and Aaron Bledsoe for the crime of “preaching the Gospel of the Son of God” contrary to Virginia Law. Although often abused and ignored, Separation of Church and State had been a part of British Liberty since 1100.
Upon hearing of the charges against these men, Henry rode 60 miles to volunteer as their defense attorney.
“May it please your worships: I think I heard read by the prosecutor as I entered this house the paper I now hold in my hand. If I have rightly understood, the king’s attorney of this colony has framed an indictment for the purpose of arraigning, and punishing by imprisonment, three inoffensive persons before the bar of this Court, for a crime of great magnitude-as disturbers of the peace. May it please the Court, what did I hear read? Did I hear it distinctly, or was it a mistake of my own? Did I hear an expression as if a crime, that these men, whom your worships are about to try for a misdemeanor, are charged with—
and continuing in a low, solemn, heavy tone, “For preaching the Gospel of the Son of God!”
Henry was also and vocal supporter of the Right of the People to keep and bear arms. It was on this day in 1775 that Henry led an armed regiment of men to Williamsburg, demanding that the powder taken by Lord Dunmore be restored or replaced by the government to the people.
Henry and his regiment of men forced the the King’s Receiver to restore the People of Williamsburg with 330 pounds of powder. Lord Dunmore believed that he had full right and duty to take that powder under the circumstances of national security and that the People were being “outrageous” and “rebellious” for questioning his power and demanding the restoration of their property. Lord Dunmore did not take kindly to this “show of force” and issued a statement against Patrick Henry and anyone who would support him:
PROCLAMATION BY LORD DUNMORE .
By His Excellency the Right Honourable JOHN Earl of DUNMORE, His Majesty’ s Lieutenant and Governour General of the Colony and Dominion of VIRGINIA, and Vice-Admiral of the same.
VIRGINIA, to wit:
Whereas I have been informed, from undoubted authority, that a certain Patrick Henry, of the County of Hanover, and a number of deluded followers, have taken up arms, chosen their Officers, and, styling themselves an Independent Company, have marched out of their County, encamped, and put themselves in a posture of war, and have written and despatched letters to divers parts of the Country, exciting the people to join in these outrageous and rebellious practices, to the great terrour of all His Majesty’ s faithful subjects, and in open defiance of law and Government; and have committed other acts of violence, particularly in extorting from His Majesty’ s Receiver General the sum of Three Hundred and Thirty Pounds, under pretence of replacing the Powder I thought proper to order from the Magazine; whence it undeniably appears that there is no longer the least security for the life or property of any man: Wherefore, I have thought proper, with the advice of His Majesty’ s Council, and in His Majesty’ s name, to issue this my Proclamation, strictly charging all persons, upon their allegiance, not to aid, abet, or give countenance to the said Patrick Henry, or any other persons concerned in such unwarrantable combinations, but on the contrary to oppose them and their designs by every means; which designs must, otherwise, inevitably involve the whole Country in the most direful calamity, as they will call for the vengeance of offended majesty and the insulted laws to be exerted here, to vindicate the constitutional authority of Government.
Given under my hand and the seal of the Colony, at Williamsburgh, this 6th day of May, 1775, and in the fifteenth year of His Majesty’ s reign.
GOD save the King.
Those who do not know their history, are doomed to repeat its mistakes.
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