What were Patrick Henry's views regarding liberty?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that Henry was a stout anti- federalist in his views of liberty.  This is not only rooted in his speech prior to the Revolution that ends with the phrase, "Give me liberty or give me death."  I think it is also evident in his political leanings after the American Revolution.  At the Constitutional Convention, Henry demonstrated himself to be on the anti-federalist side of the political debate.  He sincerely believed that the new conception of constitutional formation should not replace one authoritarian power with another.  Whether it was England or the Americans using centralized power to oppress, Henry made it clear that individual rights and state rights have to be included in the new version of the American constitution.  This is something that he displayed throughout the meetings and the discussions towards achieving a new Constitution.  The inclusion of the Bill of Rights is something that Henry advocated as it provided a shield from government intrusion and maintained individual entitlements is representative of how zealous Henry was about individual liberty.  Henry seemed to take the stance that embracing centralized power can only happen when individual liberties are safeguarded and cannot be taken away.

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