Patrick Henry Timeline
Timeline Description: Patrick Henry was the founding father famous for his "Give me liberty, or give me death!" speech that stirred fellow patriots to fight for independence from England. A self-taught lawyer, Henry was known for his powerful oratory skills.

Date Event
1736 Patrick Henry is born.

Patrick Henry is born on May 26, 1736 in Hanover County, Virginia, the second of eleven children. His father, who has gone to college, teaches him Latin, ancient history, and Greek. Henry teaches himself how to play the flute and he learns how to play the fiddle.
1747 Hearing a great speaker (Around 1747).

Henry is a good listener and remembers what he hears. One Sunday a new minister, Reverend Samuel Davies, comes to speak. Henry is awed by his speaking style, how he makes his voice raise or lower, depending on what he is saying.
1751 A clerk and storekeeper (About 1751 - 1752).

When Henry is 15 and his brother William is 16, their father sends them to work with some Scottish merchants to learn the trade. When a year is over, their father sets up a small store for them. However, the boys aren't very interested in shopkeeping, and the store fails in a year.
1754 Marriage (Fall 1754).

When Henry is 18-years-old, he marries Sarah Shelton, a long-time friend. They move to a farm called Pine Slash that Sarah's father has given them as a wedding gift. Within a year Sarah gives birth to their daughter Martha. Their son John is born in 1757. They will have a total of six children.
1757 A important move.

A fire breaks out in Pine Slash. Henry moves his family to his father-in-law's tavern down the road. Henry opens a small store and helps his father in the tavern, but he also starts attending the court sessions at the Hanover Courthouse across the street.
1757 A new career (1757 - 1760).

Henry enjoys hearing the lawyers talk and debate. He decides to become a lawyer, but there are no law schools in the colonies and he doesn't have time to learn from an established lawyer. After studying on his own, and paying attention at the courthouse, Henry takes his law exam and passes.
1763 Parson's Cause.

Henry travels to different courthouses to work. Many like how he speaks. Late in 1763 Henry handles a big case to determine the salary of a minister. Henry argues that the king has no right to stop a law that has been passed by the people. Though some cry, "Treason!", Henry wins the case.
1763 House of Burgesses (1763 - 1765).

Henry becomes a member of Virginia's House of Burgesses. In 1765 he speaks out against the Stamp Act saying that only the Assembly has the right to tax Virginians, not the king. Many are angered by his speech and call it treason. "If this be treason," he replies, "make the most of it."
1766 Taxes and tea (1766 -1773).

The Stamp Act is stopped, but Britain continues to tax other items in the colonies. British merchants are boycotted. The new taxes are stopped except for the one on tea. A group of colonists in Boston dress like Mohawk Indians and dump the tea from three ships into the harbor. King George is furious.
1773 Illness and prayer (1773 - 1774).

Sarah develops mental illness after the birth of their son Edward. Henry keeps her home under the watchful eye of a caretaker. In the Spring of 1774, with Boston Harbor to be closed soon, Henry calls for June 1st to be a day of fasting and prayer to end the troubles with England.
1774 First Continental Congress and sadness (1774 - 1775).

Henry is chosen as a delegate to the First Continental Congress to discuss what to do about England. At the meeting he declares, "I am not a Virginian, but an American." The following February, Sarah dies.
1775 Liberty or death (1775 -1776).

Henry gives his famous "Give me liberty, or give me death!" speech, calling for a militia to be raised. The fight with Britain is on after British troops start a skirmish in Lexington and Concord. A Second Continental Congress is called to vote for independence, but Henry is sick at home.
1776 A new wife and a governorship (1776 - 1779).

Henry is elected governor of the new Commonwealth of Virginia and works hard to help the war effort. He is elected three one-year terms. He marries Dorothea Dandridge on October 9, 1777. They will have 11 children together.
1781 Freedom and a Constitution (1781 - 1791).

The war ends in 1781 and the Treaty of Paris is signed in 1783. A national Constitution is written in 1787 to replace the Articles of Confederation, but Henry opposes it because there is no Bill of Rights. However, in 1791, a Bill of Rights is added to protect the rights of the people.
1791 Last days (1791 - 1799).

George Washington offers Henry many different positions in the new government, but he refuses. He eventually agrees to run for the Virginia legislature in 1799, and wins. Henry dies, however, on June 6, 1779 from cancer at the age of 63. Patrick Henry will be remembered as the famous orator who stirred the hearts of the American people to stand up against the tyranny of King George III, and to fight for independence.






Educational Videos