— Patrick Henry National Memorial —
One mile to the south is Red Hill, Patrick Henry's last home and burial place. The marble stone covering his grave carries the simple inscription, "His fame his best epitaph."
Henry came here in 1794 and died at his beloved Red Hill in 1799. The property remained in his decendant's hands until 1944 at which time the Patrick Henry Memorial Foundation purchased Red Hill. Today, the Foundation maintains Henry's law office, reconstructed story-and-half house, and plantation buildings. A visitor center houses rare family artifacts in the E. Stuart James Grant Museum. Prominent on the landscapeoverlooking the unspoiled Staunton River valley is the nationalchampion Osage orange tree. The growing network of interpretivescenic trails affords visitors a glimpse into the pastoral life Henryenjoyed during the last decade of the 18th century, as the fields andforests surrounding his home remain virtually unchanged today.
Elected Virginia's first governor, Patrick Henry never held a nationaloffice and yet his words and inspiration are remembered still today.By his oratorical prowess and his unfailing empathy with hisconstituents and their interests, Henry made the Revolution a morewidely popular movement than it might otherwise have become.He explained the revolution toordinary men and women in wordsthey understood. In the words ofThomas Jefferson, "It is not noweasy to say what we should havedone without Patrick Henry. Hewas before us all in maintainingthe spirit of the Revolution."
Patrick Henry (May 29, 1736 - June 6, 1799) was the leading Virginia statesman in defending the rights of Colonial Americans.
Following Henry's death, John Adams wrote to Thomas Jefferson singing his praises: "In the Congress of 1774 there was not one member, except Patrick Henry, who appeared to me sensible of the Precipice or rather the Pinnacle on which he stood, and had the candour and courage enough to acknowledge it."
Henry was the first elected governor of Virginia, a devoted father of 17 children, and the most famous orator of his day. Born in Hanover County, Henry made a name for himself as a young lawyer in the Parsons' Cause at Hanover Courthouse in 1763. His 1765 resolutions against the Stamp Act articulated the basic principles of the American Revolution. Henry is perhaps best known for his immortal words "Give me liberty or give me death," which he delivered during the Second Virginia Convention in a speech to fellow delegates George Washington and Thomas Jefferson at St. John's Church in 1775. His impassioned words helped move colonists toward American independence and they continue to inspire the cause of freedom around the world.
Known as the "Voice of the Revolution," Henry's political career included 26 years of service in the Virginia legislature and five terms as governor. He helped draft the Virginia Constitution of 1776 and its Declaration of Rights. A leading critic of the U.S. Constitution, Henry also strongly influenced the creation of the Bill of Rights. Following his death, Henry was buried at Red Hill Plantation, now the site of the Patrick Henry National Memorial.
(sidebar)A Timeline of Patrick Henry's Life
1736 · Henry was born at Studley Plantation
1748 · Henry worshiped at Polegreen Church during Great Awakening period and was influenced by the oratory of the Rev. Samuel Davies until 1759
1754 · Henry and Sarah Shelton were married at Rural Plains and moved into Pine Slash
1760 · Henry passed bar examination in Williamsburg; opened law office at Hanover Tavern
1763 · Henry argued Parsons' Cause at Hanover Courthouse
1765 · Henry elected to House of Burgesses and proposed Virginia's bold Stamp Act Resolutions
1771 · Henry made his home at Scotchtown
1774 · Henry elected to First Continental Congress
1775 · Henry delivered his "Liberty or Death" speech at St. John's Church
1775 · Henry elected to Second Continental Congress
1775 · Henry, along with James Madison, elected as a founding trustee of Hampden-Sydney College
1776 · Henry attended Fifth Revolutionary Convention and helped draft Virginia Constitution and Declaration of Rights
1776 · Henry elected first governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, served three one-year terms
1784 · Henry re-elected governor, served two one-year terms
1787 · Henry declined election to Philadelphia Constitutional Convention
1788 · Virginia ratified U. S. Constitution by 89 to 79 vote, Henry's opposition fueled movement for a Bill of Rights, which was ratified three years later1794 · Henry made his home at Red Hill, Charlotte County
1796 · Henry declined sixth term as governor of Virginia and appointments as U. S. senator, chief justice, secretary of state, and ambassador to Spain and France1799 · Henry elected to House of Burgesses but died at Red Hill before taking office