One of the highlights of our brief trip to Richmond was running into a fellow named Ray who gives walking tours of St. John’s Episcopal Church where Patrick Henry gave his rousing Give Me Liberty... call to arms in March of 1775.
Ray’s passionate telling -- he broke the story down frame by frame -- brought the history alive and won my love forever. He even gave us a snippet of Henry’s speech, which I looked up online on my return home and whittled down excessively (this being the abbreviated age of the Internet) for your reading pleasure, below:
Different men often see the same subject in different lights ... This is no time for ceremony ... it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery ... it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts ... Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not ... whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it ... I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past ... We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne ... our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne! In vain ... may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation.
There is no longer any room for hope.
Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace -- but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? 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!