Once upon a time, a long time ago, there lived a tribe of people, called Americans who refused to accept the rule of a mortal king.
Following the Boston Tea Party, almost 240 years ago, that tribe dumped 342 containers of tea into the Boston harbor, prompting their mortal king to enact a series of taxes called Acts of Parliament in response to the rebellion in Massachusetts. Collecting those taxes required putting more police on the streets. A few months later, General Thomas Gage, arrived in Boston with four regiments of British troops.
The First Continental Congress met in the fall of 1774 in Philadelphia with 56 American delegates, representing every colony, except Georgia. On September 17th, the Congress declared its opposition to the repressive Acts of Parliament, saying they are “not to be obeyed,” and also promoted the formation of local militia units. Thus economic and military tensions between the Americans and their mortal king’s police escalated. In February of 1775, a Provincial Congress was held in Massachusetts during which John Hancock and Joseph Warren began defensive preparations for a state of war. The British Parliament then declared Massachusetts to be in a state of rebellion. Without the other colonies joining in the fight, Massachusetts would fail.
On March 23rd 1775, 238 years ago delegates of the most populous and powerful colony of Virginia met in St. John’s church in Richmond. Resolutions were presented by Patrick Henry putting the colony of Virginia “into a posture of defense…embodying, arming, and disciplining such a number of men as may be sufficient for that purpose.” Before the vote was taken on his resolutions, Henry delivered the speech below, imploring the delegates to vote in favor.
He spoke without any notes or cue cards in a voice that became louder and louder, climaxing with the now famous ending. Following his speech, the vote was taken in which his resolutions passed by a narrow margin, and thus Virginia joined in the American Revolution.
“… They tell us, sir, that we are weak — unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance, by lying supinely on our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot?
Sir, we are not weak, if we make a proper use of the means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, 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 for us.
The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable — and 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 is actually 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!”
What followed was a long and bloody war known today as the American Revolutionary War or sometimes the American War of Independence (1775-1783).
Patrick Henry was an attorney, farmer and politician who became known as an orator during the movement for independence in Virginia in the 1770s. A Founding Father, he served as the first and sixth post-colonial Governor of Virginia, from 1776 to 1779 and from 1784 to 1786.After the Revolution, Henry was a leader of the anti-federalists in Virginia. Initially he opposed ratification the proposed United States Constitution, fearing that it endangered the rights of the States as well as the freedoms of individuals until it adopted the Bill of Rights–also known at the first ten Amendments of the Constitution.
The Bill of Rights is the list of the most important rights of Americans. The citizen rights often most contested are the inalienable rights–those rights not given to the citizens by the government, but instead affirmed by the Constitution as given to them by a higher authority. A Bill of Rights hinders would-be tyrants. A detailed study of the rights included there, and the behavior of the most terrible tyrants of history shows they are exactly the rights removed before tyranny was possible. Once tyranny is established it has never been removed peacefully. The wisdom and boldness of men like Patrick Henry were essential for Americans and others to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for more than two centuries. With the addition of the Bill of Rights, opposition waned, and the Constitution was ratified on June 21, 1788 so it could replace the Articles of Confederation from 1777.
It is interesting to note and understand that the Constitution of the United States was created by the American citizens through the authority of the preexisting states. The American tribe is comprised of a free and armed people who have a history of not being ruled by any personality or government, instead the people have permitted a few of their tribe to temporarily enjoy elected positions of limited authority so as to govern according to an established set of laws and rules, the supreme law of the land being The United States Constitution. For it is the power of The Constitution of the United States which makes the Federal government and all of its supporting agencies legal.
That’s why when our fellow citizens are elected or appointed to positions of authority we require them to take an oath to protect and preserve The Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.
It just makes sense.