Patrick Henry was an American attorney, planter, and orator best known for his declaration to the Second Virginia Convention: “Give me liberty, or give me death!” A Founding Father, he served as the first and sixth post-colonial Governor of Virginia, from 1776 to 1779 and from 1784 to 1786. Inspirational Patrick Henry quotes will encourage growth in life, make you wiser and broaden your perspective.
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Most Famous Patrick Henry Quotes
Give me liberty or give me death!
Adversity toughens manhood, and the characteristic of the good or the great man is not that he has been exempt from the evils of life, but that he has surmounted them.
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?
A small, disciplined militia can not only hold out against a larger force but drive it back, because what they’re fighting for rightfully belongs to them.
I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience.
It can not be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians, not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ!
United we stand, divided we fall.
There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable, and let it come! I repeat, Sir, let it come!
We should not forget that the spark which ignited the American Revolution was caused by the British attempt to confiscate the firearms of the colonists.
It is when a people forget God, that tyrants forge their chains.
A vitiated state of morals, a corrupted public conscience are incompatible with freedom.
We have divided power between three branches of government and erected checks and balances to prevent abuse of power. However, where is the check on the power of the judiciary? If we fail to check the power of the judiciary, I predict that we will eventually live under judicial tyranny.
The first thing I have at heart is American liberty; the second thing is American union.
Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, 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.
O sir, we should have fine times, indeed, if, to punish tyrants, it were only sufficient to assemble the people! Your arms, wherewith you could defend yourselves, are gone; and you have no longer an aristocratical, no longer a democratical spirit. Did you ever read of any revolution in a nation, brought about by the punishment of those in power, inflicted by those who had no power at all?
Bad men cannot make good citizens.
Is the relinquishment of the trial by jury and the liberty of the press necessary for your liberty? Will the abandonment of your most sacred rights tend to the security of your liberty? Liberty, the greatest of all earthly blessings – give us that precious jewel, and you may take every thing else!
For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst and provide for it.
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.
My political curiosity, exclusive of my anxious solicitude for the public welfare, leads me to ask who authorized them (the framers of the Constitution) to speak the language of ‘We, the People,’ instead of ‘We, the States’?
Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss. Ask yourselves how this gracious reception of our petition comports with those warlike preparations which cover our waters and darken our land. Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled, that force must be called in to win back our love? Let us not deceive ourselves, sir. These are the implements of war and subjugation the last arguments to which kings resort.
The Bible is worth all the other books which have ever been printed.
Inspirational Patrick Henry Quotes
No free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue; and by a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.
You are not to inquire how your trade may be increased, nor how you are to become a great and powerful people, but how your liberties can be secured; for liberty ought to be the direct end of your government.
It is natural for man to indulge in the illusions of hope.
The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government – lest it comes to dominate our lives and interests.
The great object is that every man be armed.
The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave.
Power is the great evil with which we are contending.
The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.
Let us not split into factions which must destroy that union upon which our existence hangs.
They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house?
The distinctions between Virginians, Pennsylvanians, New Yorkers, and New Englanders are no more. I Am Not A Virginian, But An American!
I know of no way of judging the future but by the past.
Fear is the passion of slaves.
The great pillars of all government and of social life [are] virtue, morality, and religion. This is the armor, my friend, and this alone, that renders us invincible.
Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel.
I believe a time will come when an opportunity will be offered to abolish this lamentable evil.
It is the business of a virtuous clergy to censure vice in every appearance of it.
Are we at last brought to such humiliating and debasing degradation that we cannot be trusted with arms for our defense? Where is the difference between having our arms in possession and under our direction, and having them under the management of Congress? If our defense be the real object of having those arms, in whose hands can they be trusted with more propriety, or equal safety to us, as in our own hands?
Show me that age and country where the rights and liberties of the people were placed on the sole chance of their rulers being good men, without a consequent loss of liberty?
When the American spirit was in its youth, the language of America was different: Liberty, sir, was the primary object.
Perfect freedom is as necessary to the health and vigor of commerce as it is to the health and vigor of citizenship.
Three million 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.
If we wish to be free we must fight, I repeat, we must fight.
Suspicion is a virtue as long as its object is the public good, and as long as it stays within proper bounds.
Being a Christian… is a character which I prize far above all this world has or can boast.
This is all the inheritance I give to my dear family. The religion of Christ will give them one which will make them rich indeed.
If this be treason, make the most of it!
First, the Constitution ought to secure a genuine and guard against a select militia, by providing that the militia shall always be kept well organized, armed, and disciplined, and include, according to the past and general usage of the states, all men capable of bearing arms; and that all regulations tending to render this general militia useless and defenseless, by establishing select corps of militia, or distinct bodies of military men, not having permanent interests and attachments in the community to be avoided.