By Jan White
On this day in 1775, Patrick Henry, the first governor of Virginia and one of the United States’ founding fathers, gave his famous proclamation, “Give me liberty or give me death.” The declaration was made during his impassioned plea in favor of Virginia troops joining the Revolutionary War. Henry’s speech is said to have swayed the balance in convincing the convention delegates to consign the Virginia militia to help aid in the war efforts.
Patrick Henry was an outspoken Anti-Federalist who opposed the ratification of the U.S. Constitution because he believed it put too much power in the hands of a national government. His concern was that too much centralized control could result in a type of governmental monarchy. Although the Anti-Federalists weren’t able to stop the ratification of the constitution, Henry helped influence the creation of the Bill of Rights, which guaranteed personal freedoms and put limits on the government’s constitutional power.
Patrick Henry is still regarded as a significant influencer in American history.