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50 Patrick Henry Quotes From the United States Founding Father

These Patrick Henry quotes from one of America’s greatest orators will get you as fired up about freedom as the American colonists were after hearing Henry speak.

One of the most important men in United States’ history, and also one of the most forgotten, Patrick Henry was one of the American founding fathers.

Henry was a great public speaker and his speeches were heavily influential in pumping up American colonists and getting them ready to fight for their independence. Famously, Henry is known for shouting, “Give me liberty, or give me death!”

Henry was an anti-federalist and he opposed the ratification of the constitution. He helped influence the Bill of Rights, ensuring that citizens would keep their personal freedoms.

Don’t forget to also check out these Montesquieu quotes that helped shape the U.S. constitution.

Famous Patrick Henry quotes and sayings about liberty

1. “Give me liberty or give me death!” — Patrick Henry

2. “The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.” — Patrick Henry

3. “The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government – lest it comes to dominate our lives and interests.” — Patrick Henry

4. “When the American spirit was in its youth, the language of America was different: Liberty, sir, was the primary object.” — Patrick Henry

5. “Is the relinquishment of the trial by jury and the liberty of the press necessary for your liberty? Will the abandonment of your most sacred rights tend to the security of your liberty? Liberty, the greatest of all earthly blessings – give us that precious jewel, and you may take every thing else!” — Patrick Henry

6. “Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel.” — Patrick Henry

7. “Are we at last brought to such humiliating and debasing degradation that we cannot be trusted with arms for our defense? Where is the difference between having our arms in possession and under our direction, and having them under the management of Congress? If our defense be the real object of having those arms, in whose hands can they be trusted with more propriety, or equal safety to us, as in our own hands?” — Patrick Henry

8. “Fear is the passion of slaves.” — Patrick Henry

9. “We should not forget that the spark which ignited the American Revolution was caused by the British attempt to confiscate the firearms of the colonists.” — Patrick Henry

10. “Show me that age and country where the rights and liberties of the people were placed on the sole chance of their rulers being good men, without a consequent loss of liberty?” — Patrick Henry

11. “The great object is that every man be armed.” — Patrick Henry

12. “The first thing I have at heart is American liberty; the second thing is American union.” — Patrick Henry

13. “A vitiated state of morals, a corrupted public conscience are incompatible with freedom.” — Patrick Henry

14. “You are not to inquire how your trade may be increased, nor how you are to become a great and powerful people, but how your liberties can be secured; for liberty ought to be the direct end of your government.” — Patrick Henry

15. “No free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue; and by a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.” — Patrick Henry

16. “Perfect freedom is as necessary to the health and vigor of commerce as it is to the health and vigor of citizenship.” — Patrick Henry

Patrick Henry quotes about revolution

17. “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, Sir, let it come!” — Patrick Henry

18. “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?” — Patrick Henry

19. “It is when a people forget God, that tyrants forge their chains.” — Patrick Henry

20. “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.” — Patrick Henry

21. “Three million 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.” — Patrick Henry

22. “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?” — Patrick Henry

23. “If we wish to be free we must fight, I repeat, we must fight.” — Patrick Henry

24. “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.” — Patrick Henry

25. “A small, disciplined militia can not only hold out against a larger force but drive it back, because what they’re fighting for rightfully belongs to them.” — Patrick Henry

26. “I believe a time will come when an opportunity will be offered to abolish this lamentable evil.” — Patrick Henry

27. “If this be treason, make the most of it!” — Patrick Henry

28. “The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave.” — Patrick Henry

Patrick Henry quotes about the United States government

29. “We have divided power between three branches of government and erected checks and balances to prevent abuse of power. However, where is the check on the power of the judiciary? If we fail to check the power of the judiciary, I predict that we will eventually live under judicial tyranny.” — Patrick Henry

30. “The great pillars of all government and of social life [are] virtue, morality, and religion. This is the armor, my friend, and this alone, that renders us invincible.” — Patrick Henry

31. “United we stand, divided we fall.” — Patrick Henry

32. “Let us not split into factions which must destroy that union upon which our existence hangs.” — Patrick Henry

33. “First, the Constitution ought to secure a genuine and guard against a select militia, by providing that the militia shall always be kept well organized, armed, and disciplined, and include, according to the past and general usage of the states, all men capable of bearing arms; and that all regulations tending to render this general militia useless and defenseless, by establishing select corps of militia, or distinct bodies of military men, not having permanent interests and attachments in the community to be avoided.” — Patrick Henry

More Patrick Henry anti federalist quotes

34. “It can not be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians, not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ!” — Patrick Henry

35. “This is all the inheritance I give to my dear family. The religion of Christ will give them one which will make them rich indeed.” — Patrick Henry

36. “I know of no way of judging the future but by the past.” — Patrick Henry

37. “I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience.” — Patrick Henry

38. “Power is the great evil with which we are contending.” — Patrick Henry

39. “O sir, we should have fine times, indeed, if, to punish tyrants, it were only sufficient to assemble the people! Your arms, wherewith you could defend yourselves, are gone; and you have no longer an aristocratical, no longer a democratical spirit. Did you ever read of any revolution in a nation, brought about by the punishment of those in power, inflicted by those who had no power at all?” — Patrick Henry

40. “For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst and provide for it.” — Patrick Henry

41. “Suspicion is a virtue as long as its object is the public good, and as long as it stays within proper bounds.” — Patrick Henry

42. “My political curiosity, exclusive of my anxious solicitude for the public welfare, leads me to ask who authorized them (the framers of the Constitution) to speak the language of ‘We, the People,’ instead of ‘We, the States’?” — Patrick Henry

43. “Bad men cannot make good citizens.” — Patrick Henry

44. “It is the business of a virtuous clergy to censure vice in every appearance of it.” — Patrick Henry

45. “It is natural for man to indulge in the illusions of hope.” — Patrick Henry

46. “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.” – Patrick Henry

47. “The distinctions between Virginians, Pennsylvanians, New Yorkers, and New Englanders are no more. I Am Not A Virginian, But An American!” — Patrick Henry

48. “Being a Christian… is a character which I prize far above all this world has or can boast.” — Patrick Henry

49. “Adversity toughens manhood, and the characteristic of the good or the great man is not that he has been exempt from the evils of life, but that he has surmounted them.” — Patrick Henry

50. “The Bible is worth all the other books which have ever been printed.” — Patrick Henry

What did you learn from these Patrick Henry quotes?

Patrick Henry had a difficult time finding a profession as a young adult. He tried and failed several times to succeed as a store owner and a planter. He eventually taught himself law while working in his father-in-law’s tavern and found himself to be a powerful orator.

His speeches were known for being both emotionally captivating as well as highly persuasive. Henry’s law profession and talent at public speaking would eventually lead him to become a politician and the first governor of Virginia.

We hope you enjoyed these Patrick Henry quotes and sayings. Let us know which quote was your favorite in the comments below.

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