Patrick Henry was an American attorney, planter, politician, and one of the best orators. He was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States and the first governor of Virginia. He was a major personality in the American Revolution.
Henry was born in Hanover County, Virginia. He was mostly educated at home. Demands of a growing family made him study law, and soon he showed remarkable ability. In a few years after his admission to the bar in 1760, he had huge clients. He was especially successful in criminal cases where he made good use of his humor, knowledge of human nature, and ability.
His oratorical genius was revealed in the trial known as the Parson's Cause. He surprised the audience in the courtroom with his expressiveness in summoning the natural rights that a human is born with. After becoming a member of the House of Burgesses, he did deliver a speech opposing the Stamp Act.
Later on, Henry became an influential leader in opposition to the British government. He was appointed as the commander of Virginia forces, but he resigned on February 28, 1776. After the death of his first wife, he retired to live on his estate. He was reconciled to form the new federal government. During his successful electoral campaign, he made his last speech. He died at his home, Red Hill, before he had to take the seat.
Following are some of his quotes that are surely a motivation.
I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past.
This quote is from his speech at Virginia Convention. It is a quote that explains the logic in his speech.
Future is something which you cannot foresee. There are situations where an action is regarded as a guide for similar circumstances. During those situations, conclusions can be drawn about the events to come.
Henry believes that the British army is going to behave predictably even in the future. He also believes that it would be ignorant to think that Britain will not use force against the colonies. The British army and the navy are already in place, and the armed conflict is unavoidable.
For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it might cost, I am willing to know the whole TRUTH; to know the WORST and to provide for it.
Anguish is severe mental pain or physical pain, or even suffering. You have this feeling, especially when you are stressed about something.
Henry says that it is okay even if he feels deep physical or mental pain or even spiritual distress. He has no issues if they cannot be healed easily. He wants to know the entire truth, even if it may cost his own life. He is willing to know the whole truth.
He is prepared to know the worst and is ready to give his everything. He says it is fine if his spirit is tortured but he still wants to know the truth of his part.
Fear is the passion of slaves.
Fear is an unpleasant emotion that is caused due to the threat given by someone and is likely to be dangerous, harmful, and even painful.
When a person has fear, they are afraid or scared. A person who is scared of something doesn't want it to happen. It is the body's way of protecting you from things that may be dangerous to you.
Henry says that to be feared is the way a slave behaves. Slaves have a habit of listening to their masters. They never question their masters, and this way slowly turns into a passion. They have a fear that if they stop doing things, then they will end up losing their jobs. Therefore, he says that fear is the agony of salves.
So do not fear in any situation.
I know not what others may choose but, as for me, give me liberty or give me death.
This quote was the conclusion of Henry's stirring speech delivered to the Virginia Convention on May 23 1775.
It was the immediate response to the Jamaica assembly's 1774 petition to the King. He responded that Britain would never reconcile with colonies and war is the only option. Rather than false hopes, he offered a resolution to prepare the colony's defense against Britain.
During his speech, he says that it doesn't matter what others select, but he either wants freedom or death. He believed that he either wanted independence or else it is better to die.
The eternal difference between right and wrong does not fluctuate, it is immutable.
Immutable means something unchangeable or something that cannot be changed. Fluctuate means to differ or either something that is altered. And if something goes wrong in any amount, it will be wrong, and the same goes for right.
Ethics or moral principles serve as a guide for people to choose the right path in life. Every person has their right and wrong according to their beliefs. It also depends on the beliefs and the environment he was brought up in.
Right and wrong do not waver instead, it is fixed and rigid. Something inflexible.
Are we at last brought to such a humiliating and debasing degradation, that we cannot be trusted with arms for our own defense?
This quote is from the debates in the Several State Convention at Philadelphia in 1836. It shows the issues that have cropped up during the debate, which is a valid one.
Debasing means lowering the value or quality of something. It is the process of reducing the esteem and character of a person. Henry has asked this question in a debate where he says that is it such a situation where we cannot be trusted with our arms for our protection.
He has criticized the government for not allowing arms for self-defense. He asks that have we reached such a humiliating situation where we cannot shield ourselves.
Suspicion is a Virtue, if in the interests of the good of the people.
Suspicion is a feeling or a thought that something is possible or it is likely to happen. It is a state of mental turmoil and unpredictability.
To be suspicious of something is to be morally good only when it is for the good people. When you want to do good to a person, and you feel that person is going through something unfair. In this situation, to suspect that something wrong is happening is correct.
But if you start to suspect everything, it becomes a behavior where you start to feel that something is wrong with the person every time he does something.
I believe a time will come when an opportunity will be offered to abolish this lamentable evil.
This quote is a letter to the Robert Pleasants on January 18, 1773. In this letter, the slave trade is discussed in detail. And this letter is one of the original letters drafted by Henry himself.
During those times, the people who were slaves were tormented until slavery becomes a passion for them. Slaves listen to their master no matter whatever happens. This attitude is mainly due to the fear that they have.
Henry says that one day there will be an occasion that will be provided to put an end to this slavery. He has described slavery as an unfortunate situation where you will face gut-wrenching moments.
He was against slavery and wanted to get away with it as soon as possible.
Bad men cannot make good citizens.
Bad men mean cruel or malicious people who are involved in wickedness or some sort of crime. They are people who are said to be the reason for trouble or evil.
Henry says that people who are the cause of all evil doings cannot be good citizens. A person who is the reason for the problems can never be a good person. And such a person can never be considered a good citizen.
Citizens always need to be united to fight against the issues they face. And for that, they need to be the reason to solve the problems, not the one who creates. So, be the reason something good happens.
I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience.
This quote is from Patrick Henry's speech at Virginia Convention on March 23, 1975. This quote is mainly attributed to Great Britain who has always continued to tortured people.
The lamp is something that is used to eradicate darkness. It is a symbol of light that shows us the right path. It is used to guide a person when in the gloom. It is something that helps to get rid of evil within us.
Henry says that he has only a single lamp that means he has enough light such that it guides his feet on the right track. And this lamp is nothing but experience. As experience is what makes you learn life lessons. And all this makes you a better person.
The whole economy of this lower world proves that it is by labor and perseverance only that good is obtained and evil is avoided.
Perseverance is persistence in sticking to a plan. It is sticking to doing something even though it is difficult. It is okay even if there is a delay in success but keeps on doing it until you achieve it.
The economy is the set of interrelated production and consumption activity that determines how little the resources are allocated. In an economy, the production and consumption of goods are important. And this determines the economy.
Henry says that this world's economy determines reality. When labor and determination combine, a satisfying thing is obtained, and bad is given a miss. The amalgamation of both labor and resolution is what helps to achieve the economy.
Perfect freedom is as necessary to the health and vigor of commerce as it is to the health and vigor of citizenship.
Freedom is something that every living being needs. The power or right to speak, act or think as one wants. It is the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved.
Economic freedom or economic liberty is the ability of the person of a society to take economic steps. The liberal market defines it as the freedom to produce, trade, and consume goods without the use of trickery or energy.
Perfect freedom is obligatory for the economy's health as it is the same for the citizen. As the health of a citizen is important, the same is the case of the economy. If there is an imbalance in production or either consumption, then the economy goes down.
So, take care of the economy the same way you take care of a citizen.
Jealousy is the only vice that gives no pleasure.
Jealousy refers to the thoughts or feelings of insecurity, fear, and concern for safety. It can consist of one or more emotions such as anger, resentment, or disgust.
Resentment is the only practice or a habit that usually has a defect or shortcoming. Jealousy is something that gives no happiness. It is a habit that is not good.
When we are jealous of someone, we often forget what we have instead focus on what they have. We only see the shortcomings we have in our life. And is harmful to us as a person.
So forget jealousy and be happy with what you have.
If this be treason, make the most of it!
This quote is from the speech he gave in the House of Burgesses in 1851. He was trying to oppose the Stamp Act of 1765.
Treason generally means to betray your allies or your country. And the person who betrays his own country or his troop is called a traitor. In this quote, Henry says that liberty is more precious to us than our life. It is something which is a necessity.
So, if we gain more liberty, then betraying your country is not even a crime.
It is the business of a virtuous clergyman to censure vice in every appearance of it.
The clergyman is someone who is a male priest, minister, or religious leader. A clergyman is especially a person who follows Christianity.
It is the dealing of the curate to criticize every wrongdoing. He is the person who needs to work to condemn all the misconduct no matter how it appears. He doesn't see who is the person or how big the impurity is.
The pastor needs to ensure that all the sin that takes place should be removed. And peace should be retained. A person should be able to breathe and start living his life.
It is natural to man to indulge in the illusion of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, till she transforms us into beasts.
Hope is the feeling of expectation and desire for something particular to happen. It is based on the feeling of trust. It is a desire for things to change for the betterment.
We human beings naturally have the habit of allowing ourselves to live in a false impression of hope. To hope things will get better is a natural feeling. But there are things which need to be made better, and we have to do it on our own.
Human beings always ignore the painful truth and live on hope until one day the truth gets revealed in a worse way. Slowly, the situation turns worse, and then in this process, we change into someone unrecognizable. We turn into beasts who destroy everything when in anger.
Therefore, always try to work on things when it doesn't.
The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.
Liberty means a person's freedom from the control of fate and sometimes due to necessity. It is also known as power or scope to act as one pleases.
Henry says that people's liberty never was and never will be secure until the deal of the rulers is hidden from them. The ministers or the governing body often conceal the truth of the business they do.
Governing bodies sometimes misuse their authority and use the money of the government for their own need. And this agreement is illegal, and they know it is. So, they keep it a secret.
Therefore, up till the rulers keep on hiding all the matters, the freedom of people is not firm.
United we stand, divided we fall. Let us not split into factions which must destroy that union upon which our existence hangs.
This quote is the last public speech he gave before he died in the year 1799. It specifies the importance of why we should be united.
Henry says that if we all stand together, we can face an even worse situation. But if we separate and become different, we are sure to fall. And our enemies can easily win against them.
So, he advises us not to create small groups within the existing groups as they affect the union we all have started. Due to certain disagreements, people start to create a diversion which results in many groups within a single one.
Therefore, if there are any misunderstandings within a group, try to solve them by reaching an agreement.
I like the dreams of the future better than the history of past.
Past and history are both different sides of the same coin. Both of them are linked to each other and yet affect us in different ways.
Past is our history which was our present when it occurred. Future, too, will be our present when it occurs and then becomes a memory once it occurs. So, at this moment, do what you want to do.
In this quote, Henry specifically says that he loves the future better than the past. As past is something that has already occurred and has become a history. Whereas the future is like dreams which are yet to come, and dreams are always beautiful.
Therefore, instead of the pains of the past, he loves the vision of the future.
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 come to dominate our lives and interests.
Constitution is a written instrument where all the basic principles and rules of a nation, state, or particular group regulate the government's duties and powers. It also guarantees certain rights to the common people.
Henry says that it is not a tool for the government to restrict people. Instead, it is an indicator for the people to hinder the government. It is something that should not control our own lives and our needs. It should be a thing that comes to our safety when necessary.
Therefore, a constitution should help us when we are in need rather than restraining us.
Let the past be history, and start contemplating about your future. Even if the entire world is against you, stand on your morals. Do not hinder even if no one supports you. As do only those that you feel right. And now start smiling.
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