Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Prattville Dragoons Camp Meeting October 2013 - Part 2

The guest speaker for the October camp meeting of the Prattville Dragoons was none other than Patrick Henry who famously proclaimed, "Give me liberty or give me death!"  Allen Herrod of the Prattville Dragoons provided a reenactment portrayal of Patrick Henry including a short biography of his life in first person.  Patrick Henry was born in Virginia in 1736, the son of a Scottish born father and mother and they taught young Patrick at home in subjects including Greek language and math.  At the age of sixteen Patrick started working in a mercantile store.  In 1754 he married Sarah Shelton.  Her dowry included 600 acres and six slaves but fire destroyed the farm and they had to reside in the overseer cabin for some time until they sold the land to open a store which subsequently failed.  After even tending bar briefly, he started studying law, started law school, passed the bar and received his attorney's license.  In 1763 he had his first marked legal battle which involved the taxation issues with England; in the Parson's Cause case he argued for the county and argued that the clergy who encouraged obedience to civil laws as enemies of the community and that the awards to Rev Maury should be nullified and after an impassioned speech, the jury agreed and awarded just one penny to the plaintiff.  Following the Stamp Act he argued for revisions and after the Boston Tea Party demonstrations brought all the colonies together in a common cause, he was recommended as a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1774.  Sarah fell ill and her condition worsened to the point where she became insane and Patrick stayed home to care for her until she died in 1775.  In March of that same year, in a speech to the Virginia House of Burgesses when the colonists were debating on whether to take up arms in the face of the encroaching British army, he argued that the colonies were at a crossroads, freedom or slavery to British rule.  He felt it would be treasonous to his country and a violation of Providence if he didn't fight for liberty.  His beliefs and position illuminated by the lamp of experiences, judging by the past, he asked what had the British government done for the welfare of the colonies.  Now the British were assuming a war like posture and he argued that this was not a strategy to win back the affection of the colonists but rather to force them into submission.  "What treaty should be sought which was not already exhausted."  The colonists were prostrated before the throne of England, spurned with contempt.  "Shall we hope for peace and reconciliation?  These are not possible, we cannot.  We must fight. We submit an appeal to the God of arms.  Shall we wait to be disarmed with the British guarding every house.  Iur principles will make us invincible and with a just God to fight our battles for us, there is no retreat.  War is inevitable. Let it come.  Is life so dear and precious?  Give me liberty or give me death!"  Allen's performance drew a standing ovation and commentary following noted that our Confederate ancestors likely felt very much the same as these patriots and indeed Allen maintained that Patrick Henry's speech was often cited and quoted by Confederate leaders as supporting the Cause for Southern Independence. 
Allen Herrod Portraying Patrick Henry 
Dragoons Camp Commander Stuart Waldo and Patrick Henry

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