Lion of Liberty: Patrick Henry and the Call to a New Nation
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As quick with a rifle as he was with his tongue, Henry was America’s greatest orator and courtroom lawyer, who mixed histrionics and hilarity to provoke tears or laughter from judges and jurors alike. Henry’s passion for liberty (as well as his very large family), suggested to many Americans that he, not Washington, was the real father of his country.
This biography is history at its best, telling a story both human and philosophical. As Unger points out, Henry’s words continue to echo across America and inspire millions to fight government intrusion in their daily lives.
9 John Adams, Thoughts on Government (Philadelphia: John Dunlop, 1776). 10 Patrick Henry to John Adams, May 20, 1776, in Henry, I:410-412. 11 John Adams to Patrick Henry, June 8, 1776, ibid., I:414-416. 12 Randolph, 255-256. 13 Max Farrand, The Fathers of the Constitution: A Chronicle of the Establishment of the Union (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1921), 45. 14 Henry, I:349-350. 15 Richard D. Morris, Encyclopedia of American History (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1953), 91, 98. 16
also lost its appetite for vengeance after two Patriot lawyers, John Adams and Josiah Quincy, agreed to represent the British soldiers at the massacre and presented thirty-six witnesses to testify that civilians had plotted the attack. In addition, they presented the deathbed confession of one of the thugs that the soldiers had not fired until attacked. At the end of Captain Preston’s six-day trial, the jury acquitted him, and, in a second trial of the eight soldiers, the jury acquitted six of
deference for rank and for judicial and legislative authority continued nearly unimpaired,” and early state constitutions such as Virginia’s kept voting powers in the hands of property owners and Christians—despite inclusion of bills of rights that seemed to empower all citizens.13 As a preface to its framework for government, the Virginia Convention included a declaration of rights written by George Mason, who began with an affirmation that “all men are born equally free. ...” After delegates
sea left Richmond back in American hands, with Lafayette’s force following hard on the English rear guard, sniping first at one flank, then the other, and pouncing on foraging parties. At Richmond, 1,600 militiamen joined his force, and, as volunteers from plantations pillaged by Tarleton swarmed into camp, Lafayette’s army swelled to more than 5,000 men—still too small for a direct engagement, but large enough for bolder strokes. With every step beyond Richmond, Lafayette sent patrols into the
aftereffects of repeated bouts with malaria and intestinal infections. To reduce the amount of time away from home, he built an office on his property on “an avenue of fine black locusts—a walk in front of it . . . at some distance from his dwelling,” according to one of his grandsons. He spent one hour every day in this office in private devotion. His hour of prayer was the close of the day including sunset. He usually walked and meditated, when the weather permitted, in this shaded avenue. He