Patrick Henry, American Patriot
Patrick Henry (May 29, 1736 – June 6, 1799) served as the first post-colonial Governor of Virginia from 1776 to 1779. A prominent figure in the American Revolution, Henry is known and remembered for his “Give me Liberty, or give me Death!” speech, and as one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Along with Samuel Adams and Thomas Paine, he is remembered as one of the most influential, radical advocates of the American Revolution and republicanism, especially in his denunciations of corruption in government officials and his defense of historic rights. After the Revolution, Henry was a leader of the anti-federalists who opposed the replacement of the Articles of Confederation with the United States Constitution, fearing that it endangered many of the individual freedoms that had been achieved in the war.
After the Revolution, Henry again served as governor of Virginia from 1784 to 1786, but declined to attend the Constitutional Convention of 1787 saying that he “smelt a rat in Philadelphia, tending toward the monarchy.” An ardent supporter of state rights, Henry was an outspoken critic of the United States Constitution and led the Virginia opposition to its ratification arguing that it gave the federal government too much power and that the untested office of the presidency could devolve into a monarchy. As a leading Antifederalist, he was instrumental in forcing the adoption of the Bill of Rights to amend the new Constitution and became a leading opponent of James Madison. President George Washington offered him the post of Secretary of State in 1795, which he declined out of opposition to Washington’s Federalist policies. However, following the radicalism of the French Revolution Henry’s views changed as he began to fear a similar fate could befall America and by the late 1790s Henry was in support of the Federalist policies of Washington and Adams
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