So I stumbled upon the full text version of Patrick Henry’s famous speech given on May 23rd, 1775… at a meeting of the Virginia Convention a day before John Hancock was elected President of the 2nd Continental Congress.
The 2nd Contenintal Congress was put together to create a unified front against the British Crown. The colonies felt like they were being punished and penalized by the crown through “Intolerable Acts” passed by the British Parliament. Which were basically taxes that the colonists had to pay to be under the protection/rule of the British Empire. The colonists hated it, as they all came to America trying to breakaway from the old way of doing things.
Britain was Europe’s new super power after the 7 Years War(also known as The French and Indian War) which after reading about seems to have been World War I of the times. Almost every civilization around the world were engaged for a period of about 7 years, from ~1756 to 1763, picking sides and drawing lines in the sand. The British Empire and the Prussians were fighting the French and the Indians with the Brits eventually getting their way.
The victory resulted a huge power imbalance in Europe, but that shift in power didn’t come cheap for the Brits. The British were victorious but broke the bank making it happen. To help pay the bills, the crown continued to add taxes to the people of its empire including the people of the 13 colonies. The colonists didn’t feel a real attachment to the crown and weren’t super inclined to willfully paying the tax… Do you recall the Boston Tea Party??? They started taxing the tea and the colonists started pushing back…
Now that you understand the times a bit, I will start to analyze the recorded text of Patrick Henry’s speech given in Richmond, Virginia. The full text of the speech can be found at a national archive linked to below. Though I found this speech first on Time’s artice labeled Top 10 speeches tag line ——————->”Time takes a tour of history’s best rhetoric”, with Patrick Henry’s speech at number 2 of 10 just after a great speech of Socrate’s at number 1, in the article.
So from the back pew of St John’s Church in Richmond Virginia, he spouts
“It is natural to 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.” …… (Only the opening paragraph)
Though, I set up the times for the speech… It is interesting to relate this opening paragraph to the world of today.
I feel like the American people of today share the feelings of Mr. Henry in 1775. We voted in President Obama based on the sentiment of “Hope and Change”, then were tired of waiting on the hope and voted in a beast President Trump. A “beast” in the sense that the American people voted him in because he was “raw”. Had the american people not felt outraged of the lack of hope and change, I’m confident to say that we would have a Donald Trump as the President of the United States….
It’s interesting to notice that Mr. Henry goes on to speak about wanting to know the whole truth. Tell me like it is, I’m not a baby and will not cry about it. Stop protecting me, only telling me what you think that I can handle. Tell me the good, the bad, and the ugly. Let me process the information and make my decision. I need to know where to allocate resources, focus attention. It is what it is, but I need to know the truth about what “it” is.
Though he spoke over 200 years ago, I think that his wanting to hear the truth is still apparent among people in the world today!
If you want to read ahead, you can check out the full text here.
-Henry Patrick 🙂