- This article is dedicated to people everywhere in the
world who will never be able to visit this historic site. It is one of
the few remaining treasures from the founding fathers of the United States.
This author receives no compensation for this work, and the historic site
is operated by a non-profit organization.
- St. John's Church steeple
- Church Entrance
- St. John's Church history
- sign - It's quite old and a miracle the ais still
- The place where Patrick Henry delivered his speech was
at St. John's Church located in the city of Richmond, Virginia. This is
a very special place in American history, and today it is open to the public.
I urge everyone to visit it during the week. This is still a working church
with worship services on Sunday mornings. The factual source material for
what you will read below was taken from the tour guide, who gave me permission
to take these pictures and publish them.
- A real gentleman and former US marine veteran, the guide
is also a volunteer. He wears the authentic dress of a Marine from Patrick
Henry's time. His attire is completely authentic down to the smallest detail:
a vest with 12 buttons, a heavy green coat with 9 large brass buttons,
knee-length pants, heavy woolen knit gray stockings and high boots. When
we took the tour in May, we were fortunate to have this historic place
all to ourselves. The outside temperature on that day hovered around 90F.
- I have often wondered... where were all the patriots
we hear from almost daily? Have they ever been to this site, or to any
of the other historic sites of our country's heritage? What are today's
parents teaching their children anything about our history? Do they think
the schools can do it more effectively than they can?
- Marine tour guide speaking to author's mother
- On that memorable day in March of 1775, Patrick Henry
stood up in defiance and delivered his famous speech. He delivered it in
the very pew he was forced to rent from the King of England. Everyone was
not only required to RENT a pew indefinitely, but you were "expected"
to be sitting in it each week. Pew rental was demanded of rich and poor
alike in Patrick's time. These pews (or as I call them "worship stalls"
for people to be treated like cattle) have latches located down low and
on the outside. Ushers would lock you in before the service began and let
you out later. Children were taught to BEHAVE in those days, and did so
without the use of pharmaceuticals. This was all part of the colonial way
of life under the King's rule.
- The colonists were fed up with endless taxation, laws
and the King's iron grip. These hardy people finally had enough of life
under their English dictator. This beautiful church was like all others
of it's time - it was basically UNHEATED. Although Virginia may not have
the snow which the northern United States has, the inside of the church
was a very cold place in winter - cold enough to see your breath. Sermons
could drone on for more than an hour. Even as unthinkable to us as all
this sounds, being cold in winter was all part of colonial life. Hardship
came in many forms for rich and poor alike which we no longer have today.
People in civilized countries today take toilets for granted...
- In the early days of the colonial pre-United States,
there were no colleges to attend to become a lawyer. One learned the law
profession from being taught by a practicing lawyer. Such was the case
of Thomas Jefferson, who went under the tutelage of George Wythe. Mr. Wythe
is considered to be the first professor of law in America. He is buried
in the cemetery which surrounds the church on three sides. (See plaque
- Cemetery marker and plaque to George Wythe who
taught the practice of law to Thomas Jefferson. Mr. Wythe himself was educated
- (Photo taken from the rear) Altar is in the center, and
Patrick Henry sat at the far left against the wall. We also know that Washington
and most of the signers of the Declaration of Independence sat over near
the far right front right wall. The entire layout of the church is in the
shape of the cross with two small alcoves up front (white daylight areas
on the left and right.) In Patrick Henry's time, people entered from the
front right corner door which is still there today, not from the rear door
which is used now. Note the high pew walls and doors. These pews are near
the waist on an average person in our time. Most people of Patrick's time
averaged about 5ft. tall, making the pews chest high for people of his
- The pew on the left is where Patrick Henry stood up and
gave his speech. You can see the document on display above in the previous
panoramic image on the far left. The silver plaque (below) marks Patrick's
actual location. It is mounted on the pew wall's top edge (not shown above,
just outside the lower left corner of the above image.)
- This plaque is mounted on the pew wall's top edge where
Patrick Henry gave his speech. Although the plaque is 95 years old and
has been touched by thousands over the years, the following can still be
- "GIVE ME LIBERTY OR GIVE ME DEATH
- WORDS [DELIVERED?] BY
- Patrick Henry
- AT VIRGINIA C. [CONVENTION?] WHILE IN THIS PEW
- Placed by Old Dominion Chapter Daughters of
- The American Revolution May 20 1910
- May 29 * 1736 - . - June 6 * 1799
- Cemetery which partially surrounds the church
- In Patrick Henry's day the land around the church was
all farmland. Cattle were allowed to roam almost anywhere, as fences were
not yet commonplace. People were interred in wooden coffins, which would
collapse under any extra pressure on the ground after only a few years.
This presented a problem when a 1500lb cow strolled into the cemetery and
walked over a grave. Cattle are heavy enough to break a marble grave cover
plate. Something had to be done! In the image above you can see what appears
to be a table. The flat marble top prevented animals from walking on the
grave and falling in. It also served as a picnic table. Friends and family
would occasionally come to the cemetery to have a picnic in memory of the
- Brass dedication plaque to Patrick Henry. This
is about four feet in height.
- The full text of Patrick Henry's speech is shown
- Can you find his famous statement, "Give
me liberty, or give me death?"
- Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death
- Delivered in person by Patrick Henry on March
- 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? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes,
see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern
their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may
cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide
- I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and
that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future
but by the past. And judging by the past, I wish to know what there has
been in the conduct of the British ministry for the last ten years to justify
those hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves
and the House. Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been
lately received? Trust it not, sir; it will prove a snare to your feet.
Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss. Ask yourselves how this
gracious reception of our petition comports with those warlike preparations
which cover our waters and darken our land. Are fleets and armies necessary
to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling
to be reconciled that force must be called in to win back our love? Let
us not deceive ourselves, sir. These are the implements of war and subjugation;
the last arguments to which kings resort. I ask gentlemen, sir, what means
this martial array, if its purpose be not to force us to submission? Can
gentlemen assign any other possible motive for it? Has Great Britain any
enemy, in this quarter of the world, to call for all this accumulation
of navies and armies? No, sir, she has none.
- They are meant for us: they can be meant for no other.
They are sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains which the British
ministry have been so long forging. And what have we to oppose to them?
Shall we try argument? Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years.
Have we anything new to offer upon the subject? Nothing. We have held the
subject up in every light of which it is capable; but it has been all in
vain. Shall we resort to entreaty and humble supplication? What terms shall
we find which have not been already exhausted? Let us not, I beseech you,
sir, deceive ourselves. Sir, we have done everything that could be done
to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have
remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before
the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical
hands of the ministry and Parliament. Our petitions have been slighted;
our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications
have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the
foot of the throne! In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond
hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope.
If we wish to be free-- if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable
privileges for which we have been so long contending--if we mean not basely
to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and
which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object
of our contest shall be obtained--we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must
fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of hosts is all that is left us!
- They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with
so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the
next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and
when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather
strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual
resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom
of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are
not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature
hath placed in our power. The millions of people, armed in the holy cause
of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible
by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall
not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the
destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles
for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant,
the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base
enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There
is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their
clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable--and
let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come.
- It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen
may cry, Peace, Peace-- but there is no peace. The war is actually begun!
The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash
of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we
here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life
so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and
slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take;
but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!
- In these turbulent times of 2005, when the very life
and future of the United States is at peril from forces inside and out
may we never forget his words. May Patrick's words ring loud in our ears
that we may never forget -that history CAN repeat itself.
- Ted Twietmeyer
- Author of the eBook "What NASA Isn't Telling You
- Mr. Twietmeyer is a frequent contributor to rense.com
and writes on a variety of subjects.