“Caesar had his Brutus, Charles the First his Cromwell; and George the Third…may he profit by their example. If this be treason, make the most of it!” -Patrick Henry
Patrick Henry is my fifth or sixth great-grandfather.
It should come as no surprise, then, that I take his words, “give me liberty or give me death” very seriously. Thanks to the guys at Ranger Up, I now have several articles of clothing with the “liberty or death” mantra emblazoned on them. Soon I will have several of his infamous quotes tattooed on my body as a testament to my belief that I, as a free American, should be ready to give all to defend our freedom. What leaves me dismayed is that far too many people in today’s society have come to see such displays as a form of extremism.
It’s the Tea Party affiliation, you see. What they fail to understand is that their despising of my beliefs is no more serious than it was in Patrick Henry’s day. When my famous ancestor hoisted the Gadsden flag above his home, it was just as controversial then as it is now for me to put on a baseball cap with the same logo on it. There were people in 1773 who were just as vehemently against his talk of revolution as there are now who label me an extremist. I, like him, have also been branded a traitor for saying that my rulers have seriously overstepped their bounds.
He was a member of the Sons of Liberty, an organization of patriots who fought for the independence of the Colonies when their status as loyal citizens of the British Crown was repeatedly assailed and their freedom threatened. It is unknown if he was there, but it is believed that he stood alongside his friend and fellow patriot Samuel Adams when the Sons dressed as Indians and invaded the ships in Boston Harbor on December 16, 1773 to dump taxed tea into the ocean. He was an elected member of the First Continental Congress. He spoke and wrote ferociously against the British incursions into the Colonies to restrict speech and confiscate weapons. On March 23, 1775, he spoke before the Virginia House of Burgesses in an effort to convince them to raise a militia to defend against escalating encroachment from the British. It was during this speech that he said, “is life so dear, or peace so sweet, to be purchased at the price of chains or slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me – give me liberty or give me death!”
He served as a colonel in the 1st Virginia Regiment during the Revolutionary War, often defending stores of weapons and gunpowder. He first refused to support the ratification of the Constitution because it gave the federal government too much power; he also worried that the office of the President could devolve into a de facto monarchy. As he watched the horror of the French Revolution unfold, he also worried that too little power in the hands of government could be just as bad. He knew that a balance needed to be struck and, in the end, he joined the Federalists with Washington.
My concern today is just as real as his was during the founding of this country. Too little power could reduce the people to a rabble. Too much power, however, has turned the Presidency into the beginnings of a dictatorship. So-called Representatives pass laws that apply only to the citizenry, carving niches for themselves in the balance of power. Crony capitalism has flourished, leaving special interests on both sides of Congress capable of buying new laws, more funding, and higher taxes. What’s more, the people have realized that they can vote themselves money – and citizenship is no longer seen as a privilege that must be earned by either birth or work and respect. The America that my spitfire of a Scottish fifth great-grandfather fought to free and struggled to help grow is going down the very path that he and his compatriots feared.
Just like him, I have been dumped by liberals into the category of an extremist – by the angriest, I have been called a traitor. For agreeing with both Henry’s and Jefferson’s assertions that revolution is sometimes a necessary evil to protect our freedoms, I have been called dangerous. Like him, though, I don’t want to fight. I merely recognize that I may have to only as a last resort, and that is was sets us apart. Liberals think everything needs to be a fight, including their fight to end our rights to arm ourselves.
I have hope for my country. I have hope that the liberals who seek to destroy our rights and the social conservatives who seek to turn us into a theocracy will eventually cancel each other out, but I know that isn’t likely. I hope that I’ll never have to fight against my government, but they increasingly leave me little choice. I hope that we’ll be able to coexist, but I realize that more and more I’m one of few that really cares about actually living in peace and tolerating those who disagree.
I am a natural born citizen of the United States. I am a free woman, descended from one of the men who fought for our rights. I will not give up my freedom for anything – not even peace. I would rather die on my feet than live on my knees. Liberty or death. I will not live as a victim, a serf, or a slave.