A Son of Thunder by Henry Mayer. Subtitled: Patrick Henry and the American Revolution. 475 pages with 40 pages of Notes, and 8 pages of Index.
1st line: “People set out early, harnessing steaming horses in the post-dawn chill or walking across stubbled fields still drifted in mist.”
Boanerges is the origin of A Son of Thunder. From the Bible, Mark 3:17, “And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder” This title reflected Patrick Henry’s strength for rhetorical flourish embedded within his eloquent and evangelical revivalist inspired speeches. When he spoke, everyone listened. And there was tremendous substance beyond the style.
Patrick Henry, beyond his oft quoted rhetorical blast of
“Give me liberty or give me death”
is largely a forgotten patriot. Beyond the seven words of fame lies a self-made man, one who lived the American dream of steel-spoon background, and endlessly toiled for liberty.
PH was a second generation Scottish emigrant. His zeal for liberty was influenced by the Scottish clan culture. As quoted in How The Scots Invented the Modern World by Arthur Herman, in 1768 Patrick Henry told the North Carolina colonial assembly,
“We shall ever be more ready to support the government under which we find the most liberty.”
He was a member of the Virginia delegation before, during, through and beyond the American Revolution. But he was not a member of the Virginian aristocracy. He was and spoke for the common man who toiled endlessly for, and to a large measure achieved, a better life. This cultural and society division, coupled with his candid speaking talents, worked both for and against his best intentions.
His career spanned politics as a member of the Virginian House of Burgess, later as state govenor, military commander, lawyer, plantation(s) owner and land speculator.
Through Patick Henry’s engagement and advocacy, We The People now have our Bill of Rights. PH spoke out against the secret development of the American Constituion, seeing it as a consolidation of power with aristrocatic tendencies & ever less mention of persoanl liberty and threatened to erode the very rights that are the foundation of our Declaration of Independence. This was his one of his last political engagements and most intense in national politicals.
Last line: “Red Hill remains a secluded corner, far from the durge of modern life, and visitors come only by the handful and the hundred in search of the man who once spoke the language of thousands”
I am glad I read this book and learned even more about this remarkable patriot. My copy was purchased at Colonial Williamsburg after seeing a re-enactment of a Patrick Henry speech. Read the book. Then thank and honor Patrick Henry’s contributions to your liberty.