Patrick Henry (1736–1799) was a major figure in the American Revolution and the first governor of the state of Virginia. Henry was not highly educated, but his skills as an orator propelled him to leadership in the Revolutionary era. As a member of the House of Burgesses, Henry vehemently opposed the 1765 Stamp Act. He helped organize Virginia’s first Committee of Correspondence and served as a delegate to the First and Second Continental Congresses. At a meeting of the Virginia Convention in 1775, he stated his commitment to independence even at the greatest cost when he famously declared, “I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.” From 1776 to 1778 and 1784 to 1786, he served as the governor of Virginia. In 1787, he declined to participate in the Constitutional Convention and in 1788 opposed Virginia’s ratification of the Constitution because he objected to the strength of the central government it created. With other anti-federalists, Henry successfully advocated the adoption of a bill of rights, though he did not believe the amendments did enough to protect the rights of individuals and the states.

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