I had an interesting discussion with a friend concerning yesterday’s post, and decided to do requirement 6. I picked Patrick Henry and his famous speech in March of 1775.His biography can be found on the Official Williamsburg website. It describes his life and how he came to be in a position to give his speech. Another biography I found has a more comprehensive account of his later years, and how he served during the Revolution and in the early years of the country.
I read his speech, and you can read it here. This speech was given after the Boston Tea Party and less than a month before the battle of Lexington and Concord. The southern colonies were grappling with how they were going to respond to the excesses of the British, with some people counseling compliance due to the seeming power of the British military. It was very important because it influenced Virginia to join the rebellion. It lays out the issues that concerned them, touches on the power of the British, and then moves into an impassioned call to arms. It is still important today as a benchmark for what liberty is and what means may be morally justified in the defense of that liberty.
As a quote, I chose this:
The millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery!
It is not the most famous passage, but it is the ringing truth of these words, both then and now, that made me choose this quote. Our freedoms are not free, they have been bought time and time again in blood. Patrick Henry’s words helped moved the colonies into open rebellion, and the war, turmoil, and death that ensued. To have these words today helps me remember the fires that forged this country, and the kind of men the Founding Fathers were.
What famous speech would you pick if given this assignment?
As nightfall does not come all at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is twilight. And it is in such twilight that we all must be aware of change in the air, however slight, lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.
–William O. Douglas, US Supreme Court Justice