Patrick Henry was born in Hanover County, Virginia. Elected to the house of burgesses in 1765, he became a leader in Virginia's opposition to the Stamp Act. In 1775, as sentiment for independence rose, Henry addressed the second revolutionary convention of Virginia while its members debated putting the colony into a state of defense. His speech galvanized Virginians to appoint a militia, with Henry as its chairman. Forever after, Americans have remembered Henry for his courageous patriotism.
As the movement for independence grew, Henry served as a delegate to both the first and second Continental Congresses and was largely responsible for the establishment of a colonial militia. He helped draft a constitution for the new state of Virginia and served as its first governor from 1776 to 1779, when Thomas Jefferson succeeded him. After serving again as governor from 1784 to 1786, Henry was elected to the Constitutional Convention of 1787, but he declined to attend. At the Virginia ratifying convention, he opposed the federal Constitution, believing it to be a threat to state sovereignty. Subsequently, Henry was among those most responsible for adding a bill of rights to the Constitution, and with the bill's passage he gave his support to the amended Constitution. Returning to a successful law practice, Henry, in failing health, declined several federal appointments. At George Washington's request, he ran successfully for the Virginia house of delegates in 1799 but died before assuming office.
Other Depictions of Patrick Henry in the Senate Collection