Patrick Henry was a prominent figure in the American Revolution, known and remembered for his “Give me liberty or give me death” speech. He was one of the most influential and radical proponents of the American Revolution and republicanism, especially in his denunciations of corruption in government officials and his defense of historic rights. In 1763, arguing the famed Parson’s Cause in Hanover County, Patrick Henry proclaimed that a king who would veto a good and necessary law made by a locally elected representative body was not a father to his people but “a tyrant who forfeits the allegiance of his subjects.”
A strong critic of the constitution proposed in 1787, he was in favor of the strongest possible government for the individual states, and a weak federal government. He was also very critical of the fact that the convention was conducted in secret. A lawyer and governor of Virginia in 1776-1779 and then again in 1784-1786, he was instrumental in forcing the adoption of the Bill of Rights to the new constitution.
Speaking of the Constitution: “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.” —Patrick Henry
Wikipedia writes of his famous liberty or death speech: Forty-two years later, Henry’s first biographer, William Wirt, working from oral testimony, attempted to reconstruct what Henry said. According to Wirt, Henry ended his speech with words that have since become immortalized:
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!