Give Me Liberty, or Give Me Death

Famous words that finished a speech given by Patrick Henry on 23 March 1775 that encouraged the Second Virginia Convention that was taking place at St. John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia to become a part of the Revolutionary War (or at least put Virginia in a place of defense).

This is a Currier & Ives drawing circa 1876 that can be found at the Library of Congress

After his memorable speech Patrick Henry was named Chairman of the Committee to build the Virginia militia.

No one knows for sure if Patrick Henry said the infamous words or if his biographer, William Wirt, created them. Regardless, men who were in attendance that fateful day claim it is the “boldest, vehement, and animated pieces of eloquence that had ever been delivered” according to John Marshall who spoke on behalf of his dad, Thomas Marshall. George Mason claimed “every word he said not only engages but commands attention”.

Who Was Patrick Henry?

Patrick Henry was born on 29 May 1736 in Virginia. He was born of privilege and at age 10 was taught Latin, Greek, Math, ancient and modern history by his father. He was a self-educated lawyer, who like the philosopher Cato would use speeches as a form of persuasion.

Following the Declaration of Independence, Patrick Henry served as it’s 2nd and 6th Governor (from 1776-1779 and again from 1784-1786). Throughout his life his other vocations were planter, politician, and orator.

He made countless speeches over the years and no one ever wrote them down, a sad tale for his biographers. He was a highly respected man and is considered one of our nations Founding Father’s.

He passed away on 6 June 1799 of stomach cancer.

The Entire Speech

If you would like to read or hear the entire speech given at the Second Virginia Convention, please click here to visit the Colonial Williamsburg website where you can download an MP3 version to listen or read the words already typed out of this speech with the famous ending.

I found the information used above by reading a variety of websites:

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, My Family Tree, Paternal Side

Week #7: My Favorite Discovery

Over the course of 2020 I have been participating in the genealogy writing challenge of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks that Amy Johnson Crow puts on each year.  This week’s topic is “My Favorite Discovery” and as I sit here and think about what I can write about, there are so many finds flitting through my brain that bring a smile to my face… my DNA discovery that the man named on my grandmother’s birth certificate was not my grandmother’s father popped into my head, but as I sit here 1 week away from my birthday I know my favorite discovery was just re-brought to my attention in the form of a Facebook memory just last Sunday, February 9, when I discovered 3 years ago that my 5th-great-grandfather was at the Battle of Yorktown and saw Cornwallis surrender to my hero, General George Washington.


You see, I was born on George Washington’s birthday (I know, old news as I mention it from time to time), so after being told this my entire life, one of the first biographies I ever read in school was about George.  The more I read, the more I admired George (pardon my familiarity, I like to think he would understand my calling him by his first name). Yes, he is flawed.  Like many of those who were responsible for building the foundations of our new country, they made mistakes, compromising things for “the greater good” only to have it come back and haunt them 200+ years later.

But George never had an easy job despite being the only unanimously voted president of the United States.  Many wanted him to be a king, but we just overthrew king-rule, he knew that wasn’t what was best for our country.  Putting all the precedents in place to create the land we now live in wasn’t easy, but it’s one of the reasons I genuinely feel that George Washington was our greatest president.

But when I learned that my relative witnessed Cornwallis’ surrender at Yorktown literally gave me chills.  That he was related to me through my Grandma Blair (Anna Maria Morgart) was even better, she was the best friend I will probably ever have.

Peter Morgart is my 5th-great-grandfather who was born in 18 April 1758 in New Jersey.  His family moved to Virginia and he signed up and ended up being at the battle of Yorktown.


Peter Morgart was my first relative I discovered that fought in the Revolutionary War.  I have since found others, Solomon Sparks is another 5th-great-grandfather who fought in both the Revolutionary War and became a Captain in the War of 1812.  On my mother’s side I have Ichabod Warner (6th-great-grandfather), David Ryther (7th-great-grandfather), and Joel Chapin (6th-great-grandfather). But Peter will always have that extra special spot because not only was he the first relative I found to fight in the American Revolution, but he saw that wonderful surrender that ended the war.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

If you want to get better about writing about your ancestors, the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is a great opportunity.  As you can see from my own headings for this challenge I have not participated in each week as sometimes I can strain the brain trying to find someone to fit a category and it doesn’t always jump out at me.  First and foremost this is a fun activity, so don’t overstress if you don’t have something to write about each week.  But I do recommend it as practice always helps you share the stories about your relatives.