Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Patrick Henry: Voice of Thunder

According to legend, when Patrick Henry finished giving his "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death" speech, a man in the audience leaped forward and demanded to be buried on that very spot upon his passing. Whether the legend is true, it does illustrate the reality of the hypnotic, mesmerizing effect Patrick Henry had on his audiences.

Patrick Henry was a backwater Virginia Burgess, a more or less failed businessman, and a mediocre attorney (at least in terms of depth and training) who used his oratorical prowess to vault himself to the front ranks of Virginia's political leadership in the Revolutionary era.

If only we had some video or audio recordings of Henry's speeches, wouldn't that be something?? But, alas, we can only measure his greatness as an orator by reading the words of his speeches and reading of the effect they had during that time. Of course, that information is enough for us to conclude that Henry deserves the title "Voice of Thunder" and was a leading influence in early American history.


Brad Hart said...

One of my favorite stories about Patrick Henry comes from his childhood. Every Sunday while returning home from church, Henry's mother would make Patrick recite WORD FOR WORD the sermon that had been given. Henry learned how to speak at a very young age. His ability to stir emotion from his audience is legendary.

Another legend states that during his "Liberty or Death" speech, Henry took an ivory letter opener and made a thrusting motion with it into his chest as he shouted the words, "give me liberty or give me death!"

Brian Tubbs said...

Yup, I love the story about his mom. He apparently did have the cadences of old-style preaching down-pat.