John proposed an outing to give our new car some highway time. I suggested a visit to the home of Patrick Henry in neighboring Hanover County. We had never been and since it was only about 30 miles from home, it seemed like the perfect choice.
Patrick Henry, for my 365 friends unfamiliar with American history, was an attorney, planter 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.
He is perhaps best known for his stirring speech exhorting his fellow patriots, "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!"
This speech was given in St. John's church in Richmond and is re-enacted there every summer Sunday.
A few things to notice about this picture. The house was built in about 1720 and was owned privately until 1958 when Preservation Virginia acquired and restored it. Henry and his first wife lived here and raised six children. His wife showed signs of severe mental illness and rather than commit her to an asylum, he kept her in a 2 room apartment in the basement, entered through the door in the foreground. Although this sounds cruel, having seen the asylum in Williamsburg which would have been her lot, I am sure this was a far better situation.
This property is so far off the beaten path and so poorly advertised that we were the only visitors on a Saturday morning and had a knowledgeable docent all to ourselves. My only complaint is that photography was not allowed in the house, so you'll have to come to Virginia and see it for yourselves.