More British Offenses

Patrick Henry's speech
Give me liberty, or give me death. Currier & Ives. c1876. Library of Congress.

The Final Straws: More British Offenses Before “The Shot Heard Round the World”

March to April 1775
Despite the civil strides made during the First Continental Congress, the situation between the Patriots and the British continued to worsen. Neither side wished to compromise on their differing opinions of liberty and justice. The Patriots argued for an egalitarian society in which all men possess their unalienable rights to life, liberty, property, and taxation with representation met. Interestingly, despite this “egalitarian” view, women and minorities such as African-Americans were denied such rights for many, many years to come.

“I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” – Patrick Henry

Loyalists and British officials in the colonies did not turn a blind-eye to these seditious colonial attitudes. Royal governor General Thomas Gage conducted several raids on colonial military supplies in an attempt to prevent a military uprising. One of these raids occurred in Salem on February 26th, 1775. In the near future, one of these attempted raids would result in the Battles of Lexington and Concord. In response to these new insults to colonial sovereignty, Patrick Henry delivered his memorable speech during a meeting in the House of Burgesses. In it, he acknowledged the imminent war ahead and encouraged his fellow colonists to fight in the name of liberty and justice for all, shouting, “I know not what course of action others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

In keeping with Henry’s rallying speech, minutemen, or colonists who were ready to fend off a British attack at a moment’s notice, were assembled for local militias. At this point, after many other options had been exhausted, the colonists were preparing for the looming American Revolution to declare their freedom once and for all from the British Empire. These minutemen would soon become especially important during the Battles of Lexington and Concord, where the “shot heard round the world” was fired and the Revolution was essentially begun.