by James F. Lee by James F. Lee March 22
In a reenactment of the Second Virginia Convention, Mike Carioscia, center, as Benjamin Harrison, altar to the resolution by Patrick Henry, portrayed by John Tucker, left. (James F. Lee/For The Washington Post)
I knew that Patrick Henry gave the acclaimed “Give me alternative or accord me death!” accent — but that’s all I knew. Curious about this hero of the American Revolution, my wife, Carol, and I catlic to Richmond and adjacent Hanover County to appointment several actual sites ociated with the ablaze Virginia orator. Using the “Road to Revolution Heritage Trail” website — one of 13 Virginia State Heritage Aisle guides — we curated our own Henry history tour.
Altugh built-in to an flush ancestors in Hanover County in 1736, Henry had dim affairs as a adolescent man: He bootless alert as a merchant and already as a farmer. By the time he was 23, he was alive and active in his father-in-law’s aleuse in Hanover, Va., disturbing to augment his wife and children.
We collection there, to the tiny Hanover County seat, on a airy afternoon and had cafeteria at the Hanover Tavern. Built in 1792, the accepted architecture is amid at the armpit of the aboriginal Shelton Tavern. Looking out its advanced window, we saw a baby but characteristic brick courtuse beyond the alley with bristles arty angled arches at the front. Back Henry formed at this site, his appearance was no different. Lawyers would banquet at the aleuse in his day; as he served them, he would accept to their stories. It aggressive him to access their profession.
The law was his salvation. Self-taught, he was accepted a autrization to convenance law in 1760.
[What’s new (and old) in Richmond, Virginia’s contemporary basic ]
We absolved beyond the alley to Hanover Courtuse and were greeted by Gary Stauffer, a adviser for the Hanover County Actual Society. He told us that the courtuse was complete in 1735, autritative it the second-oldest, still-standing courtuse in Virginia. The attorneys is small, with blooming wainscoting and a aloft breadth abaft a barade for the judge, cloister admiral and jury. Portraits of acclaimed Virginians from the breadth beautify the walls. Today, there are benches for visitors, but in Henry’s day the cloister emblage stood.
Scotchtown, in Beaverdam, Va., was Patrick Henry’s me back he delivered the “Give me liberty” accent in 1775. (James F. Lee/For The Washington Post)
It was here, in 1763, that Henry argued the “Parson’s Cause” case, one of the aboriginal acknowledged challenges in North America ytic aristocratic ascendancy over the colonies. The case complex Baron George III’s abolishment of Virginia’s Two Penny Act, which adapted the amount of pay owed Anglican ministers by the bodies of Virginia. With damaging accent that prompted cries of treason, Henry argued adjoin the Anglican clergy, alike suggesting that the baron was a tyrant.
“When he batten that day, this abode was absolutely packed,” Stauffer said. “They had the doors accessible and bodies bottleneck to attending in.”
The case fabricated Henry acclaimed in Virginia, sealing his acceptability as a abundant orator — and a radical. His speaking appearance had its origins in the Aboriginal Abundant Awakening, a religious awakening that abundantly afflicted his mother. She was a Presbyterian and addict of the Rev. Samuel Davies, a ablaze preacher at adjacent Polegreen Church. She encouraged her son to accept to Davies’s sermons, which were abstemious with biblical and clical references delivered in the vernacular. Henry adopted a agnate style, but remained an Anglican all his life.
Davies’s account is on the Hanover Courtuse wall.
Henry’s best-known cloister case, the “Parson’s Cause,” was argued at the Hanover Courtuse. Built in 1735, it is notable for its bristles angled accolade and Flemish band brickwork. (James F. Lee/For The Washington Post)
The aing stop on our aisle was Scotchtown, a 16-room, Colonial-style abode in Beaverdam, about a half-ur’s drive west of Hanover. A white board anatomy with a brick foundation, the abode is notable for its ample hip roof counterbalanced by two ample chimneys. Henry purchased this acreage and 1,000 acreage in 1770 afterwards he had fabricated a name for himself as a lawyer. It is the alone Henry me still continuing and accessible to the public. The property’s abnormal name, with an alien meaning, was bestowed by its aboriginal owners.
Henry lived at Scotchtown for seven years. But they were the best awe-inspiring of his life, and arguably of the activity of the country. During his time there, he wrote his “Give me liberty” accent and was adopted Virginia’s aboriginal post-independence governor.
It was a awash domiciliary that included Henry’s aboriginal wife, Sarah Shelton Henry, six closing accouchement and 10 slaves, w formed the tobacco and aureate fields, and tended the use. Like abounding of the Founding Fathers, he decried the bondservant barter yet never freed any of his slaves, alike aloft his death.
Four apartment are accessible to the accessible at Scotchtown, anniversary furnished with 18th-century pieces, including several endemic by Henry. A bank console refers to a long-ago company to Scotchtown w empiric that “the appliance was all of the plainest sort.” And it charcoal so today. Our guide, Susan Llewellyn, emphasized this by pointing out a “no-nonsense,” straight-back armchair endemic by Henry in the adept bedroom.
Still, examples of abundance are on affectation that you would not see in apprehensive abodes. In the academic parlor, I acclaimed a strange-looking accessory with several adaptable arms. Llewellyn explained that this was a mapmaker’s table, endemic by Henry’s father, John Henry. Carol decidedly admired an elaborately carved board tea caddy that belonged to Henry’s mother.
Scotchtown additionally contains a two-room building highlighting the history of the abode and Henry’s appulse on the world.
St. John’s Episcopal Abbey in Richmond, area Henry delivered his acclaimed speech. Reenactments are performed by actors from the St. John’s Foundation, a nonprofit alignment that has formed to bottle the abbey back 1938. (James F. Lee/For The Washington Post)
“Liberty or death” charcoal Henry’s constant legacy. The accent was delivered in Richmond during a aation at the Second Virginia Convention in March 1775, captivated at St. John’s Episcopal Church, which has stood at the armpit back 1741. It was accepted again as Henrico Parish Church.
Llewellyn told us that Henry was crestfallen back he delivered the accent because his admired wife, Sarah, had died aloof the ages before.
We collection to St. John’s Episcopal to see a reenactment of the accent and debate, performed by costumed actors from the St. John’s Foundation, a nonprofit alignment that has formed to bottle the abbey back 1938.
Delegates including Henry, Tmas Nelson Jr., George Washington and Tmas Jefferson sat amid the 300 emblage debating Henry’s resolution to anatomy a militia for the aegis of the colony. The embly rose, suted and argued, with some aspersing the resolution as crime and others volunteering to serve the cause.
Finally, the abundant moment arrived. Face red with affection and accoutrements flailing, Henry delivered his speech, brindled with Biblical references and mages to the Greek and Roman clics. His adjustment was admonition at its purest. “You alpha low, you body slow, you bandy in some articulate questions, you body up, body up, body up!” Llewellyn explained.
Then the crescendo: “Give me alternative or accord me death!”
Henry’s abbey aated the day. A Virginia militia was formed, led by Washington.
“These guys absolutely had guts,” John Tucker, the amateur uming Henry, said afterwards the performance. “Henry and his accompany were signing their afterlife warrants. If captured, that would be the end for them.”
But it wasn’t. And that moment was Henry’s finest ur.
Lee is a biographer based in Virginia Beach. Find him on Twitter: @writer1218.
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