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Famous American Speeches: “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death”

September 28, 2015 Hastings and Hastings

America has a long, storied and glorious history. It is built on the backs of legendary figures like George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Susan B. Anthony, and many more. Each of these individuals was brilliant, hardworking, charismatic, and brave. Another trait they all shared: a gift for oration. More simply put, they inspired people by delivering historic, revolutionary, heroic speeches.

The year was 1775. The date: March 23. Patrick Henry stood before the Virginia Convention at St. Johns Church in Richmond, Virginia. The British army was preparing to move against Virginia and the revolutionary war was just weeks away from beginning.

Patrick Henry’s speech established much of the philosophy that America was built upon. He began by saying, “I shall speak forth my sentiments freely and without reserve.”Does this sound familiar to anyone? Patrick Henry was talking about freedom of speech before such a concept even existed. He wanted nothing to hold him back from speaking from the heart and saying what he truly believed.

He later stated “It is natural to man to indulge in the illusion of hope.” This is the basis for the “American Dream.” The “American Dream” is all about social mobility, hope and creating a better future. Patrick Henry believed that this was a natural and essential trait in humans. A trait that America would not just value, but find foundational.

He concluded his speech with the words “give me liberty or give me death!” This roused the delegates of the convention to create a militia and defend Virginia against the British army. America at its core is a country based on freedom. Patrick Henry believed that there was nothing in life more important than freedom, not even life itself.