I have updated Henry’s speech for today’s world, Bob.
For my own part, I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery. 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 towards the majesty of heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.
People it is natural for man to indulge in the illusions of hope but we are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth. We are inclined to having eyes, see not, and having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their earthly salvation?
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 Federal Government for the last twenty years, to justify those hopes which people comfort themselves in today?
Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received? Trust it not, for it will prove a snare to your feet. Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss. How concerned is the Federal Government of our petitions or elections with their warlike preparations which cover our waters and darken our land. Are DHS, NSA,FBI, HHS, IRS, TSA and others, along with the Militarization of Local Police Forces, necessary against Citizens who are not Terrorists, but simply believe in the Constitution and Liberty?
Let us not deceive ourselves any longer. These are all implements of war and subjugation and is the course of action to which the Federal Government has resorted to. I ask you, why have these aggressive collection of agencies, if its purpose is not to force us to submission and slavery? The Federal Government has real outside enemies, yet they turn their warlike powers against her own citizens?
All of these agencies are meant for us, the US Citizen and not for the terrorist overseas. They are sent across America to bind and rivet upon us those chains which the Federal Government have been so long forging. And what have we to oppose to them? Shall we try argument? We have been trying that for the last hundred years. Have we anything new to offer on 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 continue to have false hope in elections? What shall we do which have not been already exhausted? Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves longer.
We have done everything that could be done to avert the storm, which is now coming. We have petitioned; we have protested; we have submitted grievances before the Federal Government, and have implored to have arrested the Tyrannical hands of Federal Agencies and Congress.
Our petitions have been mocked; our protest’s have produced additional violence and insult; our grievances have been disregarded; and we have been laughed at with contempt, from the foot of the Federal Government. In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation to regain our freedoms. 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 that the Patriot & Constitutional Movements are weak; that we are unable to cope with so formidable an adversary such as the DHS, NSA,FBI, HHS, IRS, TSA and others, along with the Militarization of Local Police Forces. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed? Ask yourself, has petitions or voting changed anything? No! Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance, by being passive, and hugging the phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot in a Government Camp?
We are not weak, if we make a proper use of the means which the God of nature has placed in our power. Nine million Americans or 3% of the people, armed in the honorable cause of liberty, and our country in which we live, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, 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 with us.
The battle is not to the strong armed alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides we have no election that is not corrupted. To do nothing, is the same as surrendering your freedom and to submit modern slavery! Our chains are forged, their clanking may be heard across America! That war is coming and inevitable, so 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 has already 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!
Patrick Henry – March 23, 1775