Patrick Henry’s “Thunder Speech”

With Good Reason

Patrick Henry delivering his "Give me liberty or give me death" speech before the Virginia Assembly - Courtesy Library of Congress

Patrick Henry delivering his “Give me liberty or give me death” speech before the Virginia Assembly – Courtesy Library of Congress

This Week on With Good Reason

Thomas Jefferson said Patrick Henry “got the ball of revolution rolling.” Henry was five times elected governor of colonial Virginia, but it was his ability to electrify an audience that made him the idol of the common people. Historian John Ragosta (Robert C. Vaughan Fellow at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities) is writing a book about this extraordinary orator.

Plus: Before Patrick Henry died, he credited a Presbyterian minister named Samuel Davies with “teaching me what an orator should be.” With Good Reason producer Kelley Libby finds the story of Davies at a “ghost church” on a stretch of rural road.

Later in the show: In his most recent book Master of the Mountain: Thomas Jefferson and his Slaves, Henry Wiencek (Virginia Foundation for the Humanities Fellow) creates a portrait of the founding father that challenges the long-held perception of Thomas Jefferson as a benevolent slaveholder. Also featured: In her biography of Thomas Jefferson’s daughter, Martha Jefferson Randolph, Daughter of Monticello: Her Life and Times, Cynthia Kierner (George Mason University) says the nation’s first daughter of its third president lived a full life that reveals the privileges and limits of celebrity. The biography offers a unique look at American history from the perspective of this intelligent, tactfully assertive woman.

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