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The Meaning Behind The Give Me Liberty, Or Give Me Death Speech


The now-famous ‘Give me liberty, or give me death speech was made by Patrick Henry, a delegate to Continental Congress. It went on to inspire not only many people during the time of the revolutionary war but even during more modern times. The motto even made its way onto various symbols and icons, such as the Gadsden flag. For anyone that is interested in purchasing one of these or any other flags that were inspired from that time in America’s history, then visit

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Talking about freedom


Patrick Henry’s speech began by addressing the then President of the Continental Congress. The reason for this is that he had a much more conservative approach in dealing with the British, whereas Henry was much more cavalier in his approach. 


Due to the severity of the situation, he believed that it was not the time to be so polite and sit back on their laurels. He saw himself and his fellow countrymen as not being free and stuck in a form of slavery. Although he did not mean slavery in the way in which black African Americans were subject to slavery, he could see that American citizens did not have the same level of rights that the citizens of England had. This is why he had to tell the truth and be so blunt and direct during his speech to his peers. 


Giving a sense of hope


Henry goes on in his speech to put down the concerns of his opponents. The reason for this is to inspire hope to his compatriots that the differences between America and Britain can be resolved in a diplomatic manner. His use of descriptive and strong language demonstrates just how serious Henry is and how being inactive on the matter could have serious consequences. 


Patrick Henry, image courtesy of The History Channel



He argues that it is the duty of other Americans to face the facts of the situation that they find themselves in. Henry goes on to make it clear that regardless of how painful the truth may be to swallow, it should be acknowledged and acted upon.


Creating an appeal


The speech is concluded by Henry with a strong battle cry and that discussions around the matter should no longer be discussed and, instead, need to be acted upon. This is because there will never be any peace while ever the British remain the enemy of America. 


He goes on to rebuke the cowardice that he has witnessed this far by making the powerful statement that if he cannot be free from slavery, then he would rather die during the process of fighting for it - at this point, he held aloft a letter opener and pushed it in the direction of his heart in order to make a dramatic gesture that really drove his idea home.


Whilst his speech was inspiring, Henry was not able to convince every delegate that there was to give up on their loyalist views - however, it did inspire future generations.