Patrick Henry Timeline

Patrick Henry, born in 1736 in Virginia, was a pivotal figure in American history known for his fervent advocacy of colonial rights and his stirring speeches during the American Revolution.

From his early days as a lawyer to his time as the first governor of Virginia, Henry’s impassioned oratory and commitment to liberty left an indelible mark on the founding of the United States.

He is perhaps best remembered for his iconic “Give me liberty, or give me death!” speech, which galvanized the spirit of revolution.

In this introduction, we will delve into the life and contributions of Patrick Henry, highlighting key events that shaped his legacy.

YearEvent
1736Patrick Henry is born in Studley, Virginia, British America.
1754Patrick Henry marries Sarah Shelton.
1760Henry opens a successful law practice in Virginia.
1763Henry is elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses, where he begins to speak out against British taxation without representation.
1765Henry delivers his famous speech against the Stamp Act with the words, “If this be treason, make the most of it!”
1774Henry is elected to the First Continental Congress, where he continues to advocate for colonial rights.
March 23, 1775Henry delivers his most famous speech, known as the “Give me liberty, or give me death!” speech, at the Second Virginia Convention in Richmond.
1775Henry is appointed as the first governor of Virginia under the newly formed Virginia Revolutionary Convention.
1776Henry serves as a delegate to the Virginia Constitutional Convention and is instrumental in drafting the Virginia Declaration of Rights and the Virginia Constitution.
1777-1778Henry serves as governor of Virginia for a second non-consecutive term.
1788Henry opposes the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, arguing that it would give too much power to the federal government without adequate safeguards for individual rights.
1790Henry is elected to the Virginia House of Delegates.
1799Patrick Henry passes away on June 6, 1799, at Red Hill, Virginia.

Timeline of Patrick Henry

1736: Patrick Henry is born in Studley, Virginia, British America

Patrick Henry was born on May 29, 1736, in Studley, Virginia. He was the second son of John Henry and Sarah Winston Syme. His family was of Scottish descent and had settled in the Virginia colony.

Patrick Henry

1754: Patrick Henry marries Sarah Shelton

In 1754, at the age of 18, Patrick Henry married Sarah Shelton. Sarah was the daughter of John Shelton, a wealthy landowner. The couple had six children together during their marriage.

1760: Henry opens a successful law practice in Virginia

After a brief period working as a farmer and a storekeeper, Patrick Henry began studying law on his own. He passed the bar exam in 1760 and opened a successful law practice in Virginia.

His legal career would become an important part of his life, and he gained a reputation as an eloquent and persuasive attorney.

1763: Henry is elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses, where he begins to speak out against British taxation without representation

In 1763, Patrick Henry entered politics when he was elected as a representative to the Virginia House of Burgesses. It was during this time that he began to speak out against British policies that he saw as infringing on the rights and freedoms of the American colonists.

One of his early notable actions was introducing the Virginia Stamp Act Resolutions in 1765, which strongly opposed the Stamp Act and asserted that only the Virginia Assembly had the right to tax Virginians.

This marked one of the first instances of colonial resistance to British taxation without representation.

1765: Henry delivers his famous speech against the Stamp Act with the words, “If this be treason, make the most of it!”

In 1765, Patrick Henry delivered one of his most famous speeches in the Virginia House of Burgesses. This speech is often remembered for the line, “If this be treason, make the most of it!”

During the speech, he vehemently opposed the Stamp Act, which imposed taxes on printed materials in the American colonies without their consent.

Henry argued that these taxes violated the colonists’ rights as Englishmen and that only the colonial assemblies had the authority to levy taxes. His speech was a powerful call to resistance and played a role in galvanizing opposition to the Stamp Act throughout the colonies.

1774: Henry is elected to the First Continental Congress, where he continues to advocate for colonial rights

In 1774, Patrick Henry was elected as a delegate to the First Continental Congress, which convened in Philadelphia. At the Congress, he continued to advocate for colonial rights and resistance to British oppression.

He was an active participant in discussions about the grievances of the American colonies and the need to address them. Henry’s involvement in the Continental Congress marked his commitment to the cause of American independence.

Patrick Henry

March 23, 1775: Henry delivers his most famous speech, known as the “Give me liberty, or give me death!” speech, at the Second Virginia Convention in Richmond

On March 23, 1775, at the Second Virginia Convention in Richmond, Patrick Henry delivered his most famous and stirring speech. Known as the “Give me liberty, or give me death!” speech, he passionately argued for the need to take decisive action against British tyranny.

Henry’s speech concluded with the memorable words, “I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” His words inspired many and became a rallying cry for the American Revolution.

1775: Henry is appointed as the first governor of Virginia under the newly formed Virginia Revolutionary Convention

Following his influential speeches and his commitment to the revolutionary cause, Patrick Henry was appointed as the first governor of Virginia in 1775.

This appointment came from the newly formed Virginia Revolutionary Convention, which recognized his leadership and dedication to the cause of American independence. As governor, he played a crucial role in mobilizing Virginia’s resources and militia for the Revolutionary War.

1776: Henry serves as a delegate to the Virginia Constitutional Convention and is instrumental in drafting the Virginia Declaration of Rights and the Virginia Constitution

In 1776, Patrick Henry was chosen as a delegate to the Virginia Constitutional Convention. At this convention, he played a pivotal role in drafting the Virginia Declaration of Rights.

This document, authored primarily by George Mason but influenced by Henry’s ideas, asserted fundamental rights and principles, including the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It also emphasized the importance of popular sovereignty and the separation of powers.

The Virginia Declaration of Rights served as a model for other state constitutions and played a significant role in shaping the United States Bill of Rights, which was added to the U.S. Constitution later.

1777-1778: Henry serves as governor of Virginia for a second non-consecutive term

Patrick Henry served as the governor of Virginia for a second time from 1777 to 1778. During his tenure, the state faced significant challenges related to the ongoing Revolutionary War.

He worked to mobilize resources, support the Continental Army, and protect Virginia from British incursions. His leadership during this period was marked by his commitment to the cause of independence and his efforts to defend Virginia’s interests.

1788: Henry opposes the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, arguing that it would give too much power to the federal government without adequate safeguards for individual rights

In 1788, Patrick Henry was a prominent figure in the debates surrounding the ratification of the United States Constitution. He emerged as one of the leading Anti-Federalists, those who opposed the Constitution in its proposed form.

Henry argued that the Constitution gave too much power to the federal government and lacked sufficient protections for individual rights. He expressed concerns about the potential for centralized authority to infringe upon the liberties of the states and the people.

Ultimately, Virginia ratified the Constitution, but Henry’s arguments helped pave the way for the inclusion of the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the Constitution.

1790: Henry is elected to the Virginia House of Delegates

Despite his earlier opposition to the U.S. Constitution, Patrick Henry remained active in Virginia politics. In 1790, he was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates, where he continued to advocate for states’ rights and individual liberties. He played a role in shaping Virginia’s legislative agenda and policies during this period.

1799: Patrick Henry passes away on June 6, 1799, at Red Hill, Virginia

Patrick Henry’s life came to an end on June 6, 1799, when he passed away at Red Hill, his plantation in Virginia. He was 63 years old at the time of his death. His legacy endured through his speeches, writings, and contributions to American independence and the early development of the United States.