Daily readings about people, places, and events in American history.
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March 23rd
“Give me liberty, or give me death ! ”
On March 23, 1775, with hostilities between Americans and British troops breaking out in New England, Patrick Henry stood in a packed St. John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia, and made a fiery argument to the Second Virginia Convention that the time had come for the colonies to gather their strength and commit themselves to action. His ringing words still remind us that freedom must be defended:

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? . . . 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!
American History Parade
1775
Patrick Henry delivers his “Liberty or Death” speech in Richmond, Virginia.

1806
The Lewis and Clark expedition departs the Pacific coast and begins its return journey east.

1857
Elisha Otis installs the world’s first modern passenger elevator in New York City.

1965
America’s first two-man space flight begins as Gemini 3 lifts off from Cape Canaveral with astronauts Gus Grissom and John Young aboard.
This content is courtesy of The American Patriot's Almanac
© 2008, 2010 by William J. Bennett and John T.E. Cribb
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