What is the meaning of, "Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; But as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!"

1 Answer | Add Yours

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

What this passage, attributed to Patrick Henry (though there is serious doubt as to whether these are the actual words he spoke), means is that Henry would prefer to die rather than to live without liberrty.

To understand the meaning of the passage you give, you must first understand what Henry wants God to "forbid."  What he is saying is that he wants God to forbid that he and others would rather have peaceful lives without liberty.  He asks

Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?

Henry then goes on to speak the lines you cite.  He is essentially saying that other people might be okay with a peaceful life without liberty, but he himself would not be.  If he cannot be free, he would rather die.


We’ve answered 317,954 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question