This week, we will celebrate our nation’s independence. The decision to declare the Colonies as an independent nation was not something that happened overnight or without great debate. Not everyone wanted to separate from England; some wanted to remain part of the Crown while others didn’t really have strong convictions either way. But the movement for independence was growing and got a huge boost from a speech that was delivered in 1775 at the Second Virginia Convention.
The Convention met to decide what to do about the increasingly tense situation between Britain and the American colonies. Some wanted to find a way to reconcile with Britain. Others were ready to go to arms.
One delegate, a 39-year-old lawyer was firmly in the revolutionary camp. On March 23, 1775, he addressed the Convention at Old St. John’s Church in Richmond proposing to raise volunteer militias throughout Virginia in a fiery speech that ended with: “I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”
His speech stirred and emboldened those attending. One of the delegates later wrote: “Imagine you heard a voice as from heaven uttering the words: ‘We must fight,’ as the doom of Fate.”
Less than a month later, the Colonists and British clashed in Lexington and Concord. The war for independence was on.
The speaker was Patrick Henry. You can visit a faithful reproduction of Old St. John’s Church at Forest Lawn-Cypress. Dedicated in 1961, the Church of Our Fathers is a tribute to the spirit of freedom that we are all blessed to enjoy. May you and yours have a very happy Fourth of July.