Who is Patrick Henry? Most Americans recognize Patrick Henry as “The Orator” who delivered the “give me liberty or give me death” speech which thus delivered the United States a free and independent nation. This view of Henry’s life is rather like believing that George Washington’s signature achievement was chopping down a cherry tree. Patrick Henry’s public life is an exciting, inspirational and uniquely American story that is unfortunately nearly unknown, until now. Patrick Henry-American Statesman takes you on a biographical thrill ride through the revolutionary formation of the State of Virginia and the United States. Henry’s closeness to Washington, both John and Samuel Adams and his rocky friendship with Thomas Jefferson are all revealed. In Patrick Henry-American Statesman readers will be fascinated to learn:
Henry was mocked behind his back by Jefferson and was believed by some to be illiterate
Henry was nearly accused of treason in 1765 for opposing the Stamp Act
Henry attended & was instrumental in calling the 1st Continental Congress
The Virginia Assembly elected him as its first governor and 4 times
His warnings over ratifying the
Constitution have all come to pass
The Bill of Rights were insisted on by James Madison to silence his
criticism of the Constitution
The term “gerrymander”
(for Ellbridge Gerry) should be “henrymander”
There is but one portrait of Henry taken from life. The most popular Henry painting is of Capt. Cook!
Henry was a devout Episcopalian and resented rumors he was a “Deist”
Patrick Henry-American Statesman is not a history book, it is an exciting biography of the second greatest American who ever lived.
Originally published in 1887 this book is that rare biography that explores the critical parts of its subject’s life while allowing the hero to emerge without cheering him on. Patrick Henry explores the obscure, famous and infamous parts of Henry’s life with equal energy a mere 90 years after his death at the tender age of 63.
Tyler’s detailed exploration of Henry’s three terms as the first Governor of Virginia elevate him to a level that is subordinate only to George Washington in the Old Dominion’s rich history and pantheon of heroes. Of equal importance was Henry’s leadership in the rally for Independence in the First and Second Continental Congresses. His once-famous call for unity on the second day of that body’s first meeting is indicative of that leadership. “The distinctions between Virginians, Pennsylvanians, New Yorkers, and New Englanders are no more. I am not a Virginian, but an American.”
No less a dominating figure than Washington wrote of Henry’s reputation as an American leader. “I have ever been happy in supposing that I had a place in your esteem, and the proof you have afforded on this occasion makes me peculiarly so. The favorable light in which you hold me is truly flattering.”
Thomas Jefferson was not so effusive in his praise and delighted in tarnishing Patrick Henry’s reputation during and after his life. To Daniel Webster Jefferson said his “pronunciation was vulgar and vicious”. In 1824 Jefferson incorrectly reported that Patrick Henry “...was a man of very little knowledge of any sort. He read nothing, and had no books.” Tyler corrects these “sneers” with the facts but unfortunately Jefferson’s pen tainted people’s imaginations, until now.