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S.A. Bent, comp. Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men. 1887.

Patrick Henry

  • [An American orator; born in Hanover County, Virginia, 1736; after engaging unsuccessfully in farming and business, and remaining several years in obscurity as a country lawyer, he was elected to the House of Burgesses in 1765; delegate to the Continental Congress, 1774; governor of Virginia, 1776–79, 1784–85; died June 6, 1799.]
  • If this be treason, make the most of it.

  • In a speech in the Virginia House of Burgesses, upon a series of resolutions which he offered against the Stamp Act. “It was in the midst of this magnificent debate,” says his biographer, “while he was descanting on the tyranny of the obnoxious act, that he exclaimed in a voice of thunder, and with the look of a god, ‘Cæsar had his Brutus, Charles the First his Cromwell, and George the Third’— ‘Treason!’ cried the speaker. ‘Treason, treason!’ echoed from every part of the House. It was one of those trying moments, which are so decisive of character. He faltered not an instant; but rising to a loftier altitude, and fixing on the speaker an eye of the most determined fire, he finished his sentence with the firmest emphasis, ‘may profit by their example. If this be treason, make the most of it.’”—WIRT: Life. His resolutions passed the House by a small majority.
  • Patrick Henry closed a speech in the Virginia Convention, March, 1775, in favor of a resolution “that the colony be immediately put in a state of defence,” by asking, “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!”