Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death
Patrick Henry, March 23, 1775.
No man thinks more highly than I do of the patriotism, as well as abilities,
of the very worthy gentlemen who have just addressed the House. But different
men often see the same subject in different lights; and, therefore, I hope it
will not be thought disrespectful to those gentlemen if, entertaining as I do
opinions of a character very opposite to theirs, I shall speak forth my
sentiments freely and without reserve. This is no time for ceremony.
The questing before the House is one of awful moment to this country.
For my own part, I consider it as nothing less than a question of
freedom or slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject
ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that
we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill the great responsibility
which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions
at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself
as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty
toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.
Mr. President, 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?