"It's the Law!" ~ or IS it?
comments are in black.
Henry's are in navy blue.
Roane's are in red.
Today, many well meaning people go along with anything that the
government imposes upon them because, "It's the law." The Framers of the Constitution
of the United States understood that there was one Lawgiver and man-made regulations should never be allowed to usurp the individual's duty to his
Creator and Sovereign Lord.
In churches today across America, preachers frequently remind us to pray for our rulers. It is absolutely imperative that we remember WE THE
PEOPLE are the rulers in this country. (From Barb: Please see the
box at the bottom of this page that gives some statistics about the
lawmakers of our country. Something is very wrong with this
picture!) This is a sacred trust from God, and we need to be more diligent about it. Duty to God demands that we oppose
tyranny which robs the individual of liberty.
We have enjoyed the blessings of liberty. Will we be faithful to secure it for our children as our forefathers secured it for us?
Patrick Henry's famous "Give me liberty or give me death!" speech is perhaps
the most famous example of American commitment to liberty; however, the story
behind this speech is largely untold. As Paul Harvey says, here's the
rest of the story...
Patrick Henry's famous speech was the result of his witnessing the brutal beating of a man. The beating was so severe that the man (and others
like him) died. When Henry asked of his offense, he learned the man had been
preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ without a license from the Crown. We are closer to those kind of requirements than you may want to believe.
Are we prepared to pay the price for liberty?
Below is the full transcript of the speech from the Yale University web site. However, to completely appreciate this speech, I believe it is best
to also read the astute observations of John Roane who was present and heard the speech. Mr. Roane had the great pleasure of watching Patrick
Henry deliver this famous oration, and his commentary is included below.
Those of you who put aside busyness for 6 minutes and take the time to read this material will reap the great reward a deeper appreciation of
the meaning that liberty had to those who fought so valiantly for it. They have passed the responsibility on to us. Will we be faithful to
the cause? Time will tell.
Give Me Liberty
Or Give Me Death
Patrick Henry, March 23, 1775
No man thinks more highly than I do of the patriotism, as well as the
abilities of the very worthy gentlemen who have just addressed the house.
But different men often see the same subject in different lights, and,
therefore, I hope it will not be thought disrespectful to those gentlemen,
if, entertaining as I do, opinions of a character very opposite to
theirs, I should speak forth my sentiments freely, and without reserve. This is
no time for ceremony. The question before the house is one of awful
moment to this country. 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.
Mister President, it is natural for man to indulge in the illusions of
hope. 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. Is this the part of
wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed
to be of the number of those, who having eyes, see not, and having ears,
hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my
part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole
truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.
I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided; and that is the lamp of
experience. I know of no way of judging the future but by the past. And
judging by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of
the British ministry for the last ten years, to justify those hopes with
which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves and the house?
Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately
received? Trust it not, sir; it will prove a snare to your feet. 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. I ask gentlemen, sir, what means this martial array, if its purpose be
not to force us to submission? Can gentlemen assign any other possible motive
Has Great Britain any enemy in this quarter of the world, to call for all
this accumulation of navies and armies? No sir, she has none. They are
meant for us; they can almost be meant for no other. They are sent over to bind
and rivet upon us those chains, which the British ministry have been so
long forging. And what have we to oppose them? Shall we try argument?
Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years. Have we anything new to
offer upon the subject? Nothing. We have held the subject up in every
light of which it was capable; but it has been all in vain. Shall we resort to
entreaty and humble supplication? What terms shall we find that we have
not already exhausted? Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves
longer. Sir, we have done every thing that could be done, to avert the storm
which is now coming on.
We have petitioned - we have remonstrated - we have supplicated - we have
prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition
to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and parliament. Our
petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence
and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been
spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne. In vain, after these things,
we may indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer
any room for hope. If we wish to be free - if we mean to preserve inviolate
those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending - if we
mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so
long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon, until the
glorious object of our contest shall be obtained - we must fight! - I
repeat, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of Hosts is all that
is left us!
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 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? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and
inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying
supinely on our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies
shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak, if we make a
proper use of those means the God of Nature hath placed in our power. Three
millions 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
Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God
who presides over the destinies of nations; and who will raise up friends to
fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to
the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we
are base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest.
There is no retreat, but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged.
Their clanking may heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable - and
let it come! I repeat, sir, let it come!
It is in vain, sir to extenuate the matter. 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 the
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? Forbid it, Almighty God - I know not
what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!
are the observations of John Roane who was present and heard the speech:
"You remember, sir, the conclusion of the speech, so often declaimed in
various ways by schoolboys, 'Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at
the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it Almighty God! I know now what course
others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!'
He gave each of these words a meaning which is not conveyed by the reading or
delivery of them in the ordinary way. When he said, 'Is life so dear, or peace
so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?' he stood in
the attitude of a condemned galley slave, loaded with fetters, awaiting his
doom. His form was bowed; his wrists were crossed; his manacles were almost
visible as he stood like an embodiment of helplessness and agony. After a solemn pause, he raised his eyes and chained hands towards heaven, and
prayed, in words and tones which thrilled every heart, 'Forbid it Almighty God!'
He then turned towards the timid loyalists of the house, who were quaking with
terror at the idea of the consequences of participating in proceedings which
would be visited with the penalties of treason by the British crown; and he
slowly bent his form yet nearer to earth, and said, 'I know not what course
others may take,' and he accompanied the words with his hands still crossed,
while he seemed to be weighted down with additional chains. The man appeared
transformed into an oppressed, heart-broken, and hopeless felon.
After remaining in this posture of humiliation long enough to impress the imagination with the condition of the colony under the iron heel of
military despotism, he arose proudly, and exclaimed, 'but as for me,' ~ and the
words hissed through his clenched teeth, while his body was thrown back, and
every muscle and tendon was strained against the fetters which bound him, and,
with his countenance distorted by agony and rage, he looked for a moment like
Lacoon in a death struggle with coiling serpents; then the loud clear, triumphant notes, 'give me liberty' electrified the assembly. It was not
a prayer, but a stern demand, which would submit to no refusal or delay. The
sound of his voice, as he spoke these memorable words, was like that of a
Spartan paean on the Field of Plataea, and, as each syllable of the word 'liberty' echoed through the building, his fetters were shivered; his
arms were hurled apart, and the links of his chains were scattered to the winds.
When he spoke the word 'liberty' with an emphasis never given it before, his
hands were open, and his arms elevated and extended; his countenance was radiant; he stood erect and defiant; while the sound of his voice and the
sublimity of his attitude made him appear a magnificent incarnation of Freedom,
and express all that can be acquired or enjoyed by nations and individuals
invincible and free.
After a momentary pause, only long enough to permit the echo of the word 'liberty' to cease, he let his left hand fall powerless to his side, and
clenched his right hand firmly, as if holding a dagger with the point
aimed at his breast. He stood like a Roman senator defying Caesar, while the
unconquerable spirit of Cato of Utica flashed from every feature, and he closed the grand appeal with the solemn words, 'or give me death!' which
sounded with the awful cadence of a hero's dirge, fearless of death, and victorious in death, and he suited the action to the word by a blow
upon the left breast with the right hand, which seemed to drive the dagger
to the patriot's heart."
(Final Comments from Dennis:)
There are now those among us who have the same unquenchable thirst for
liberty and the dignity of a free people and who are just as fearful of the usurpations of liberty as those who have gone before. It is to these
ends: life, liberty and the pursuit of justice that the common law courts have come back into
existence... not for the selfish avoidance of law, but to uphold the law and to dignify all men and for the preservation of
liberty for everyone.
I am hopeful that if people of faith and principle will arise, we can stem the tide of evil that threatens to engulf us. However, if we
remain asleep we will perish in the chains of our own apathy.
DiscoverTruth is a copyrighted material of Millennium Insights LLC.
with specific permission from Dennis Elinburg)
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