Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Patrick Henry: "If this be treason..."

Patrick Henry (1736-1799) is a well-known hero of the American revolution. He is famous for several speeches and actions. Here is one I've been thinking about: his very first speech to the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1765, when he was 29 years old. Henry outlined several rights that he believed should belong to the colonies. The most radical and new of these was this: "Only colonial assemblies had the right to impose taxes on their constituents and that right could not be assigned to any other body." In defense of his belief, he criticized both Parliament and King George III. Even more radical! Of the king he said:
"Caesar had his Brutus, Charles the First his Cromwell and George the Third — ." At that point he was interrupted by cries of "Treason!" from delegates who easily recognized the reference to assassinated leaders. Henry paused briefly, then calmly finished his sentence: "...may profit by their example. If this be treason, make the most of it." (source)
Patrick Henry (from Wikipedia)

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