Patrick Henry was born in 1736 on his family’s farm in Hanover County, Virginia. A gifted orator and major figure in the American Revolution, his rousing speeches—which included a 1775 speech to the Virginia legislature in which he famously declared, “Give me liberty, or give me death!”—fired up America’s fight for independence. An outspoken Anti-Federalist, Henry opposed the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, which he felt put too much power in the hands of a national government. His influence helped create the Bill of Rights, which guaranteed personal freedoms and set limits on the government’s constitutional power. He died on June 6, 1799 at the age of 63 from stomach cancer.
"It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfil the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offence, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the majesty of heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings... I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of Hosts is all that is left us! Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power.... 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... Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"