“It cannot 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” so stated Patrick Henry to the House of Burgesses in 1775. One of our most outspoken and biblically-grounded founding fathers had great respect for the effect of the Word, very often referring to God as the ultimate source of encouragement and supplication going into the Revolution. He was often noted for speaking and quoting Scripture unashamedly.
The oldest of ten children, Henry was schooled at home by his father. He served in both the House of Burgesses and the Continental Congress where he was a strong advocate of citizen’s rights. During his younger years as a lawyer, Henry came to the attention of the Colonists when he argued, in a case involving George III, that a king who would veto a good law was not a father to his people (again using the biblical parallel of Father and child) but rather a tyrant who forfeits allegiance, and we like the Israelites who begged for a king.
On March 23, 1775, Patrick Henry stood before the House of Burgesses to inspire the men before the start of the American Revolution:
“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!”
How have we come so far from independent and individual liberty granted to us by the Almighty? Evangelists, politicians, and speakers often quote biblical phrases like “the truth shall make you free” taking it out of context, and skewing the meaning to fit their positional or political purposes. Patrick Henry understood that God could supply all our needs, even freedom from tyranny, if we would trust in Him with all our heart the truth found in His word (Proverbs 3:5). Look carefully at the quote again and notice that Henry appeals to God for freedom from the slavery of an overbearing Crown and equates a peaceful life in chains of tyranny with death.