By Rev. Dr. Tommy Davis
I have great respect for those who can make a case using magnificent oratorical skills. I have a superior admiration for those individuals who can— not only deliver a persuasive speech— but are willing to demonstrate to the world the in-depth of what one believes to be true.
Patrick Henry’s language in his speech to the House of Burgesses in March of 1775 was perhaps proved one of the greatest compilations of words that championed true freedom. At the time of his address, Patrick Henry was a thinker who held to what we may term an evangelical position today—- his champion of freedom without a suppressive government.
There is three points in Patrick Henry’s speech that should be highlighted to find a place in history’s oral communication hall of fame. His advocacy of freedom at the expense of war; the vulnerability of government to abuse its citizens; and the necessity of force to obtain and protect liberty.
Patrick Henry’s statement: “Give me liberty or give me death” is conceivably the most recalled of his proclamations. However, little attention is given as to why he arrived at such a conclusion. Having a desire to be released from the oppression of British control, Mr. Henry was fully convinced that the time was now to call arms to engage in battle for independence. His fellow Virginians needed to be aroused to support the cause of rightful nonconformity in regards to the British Crown.
Few governments in authority benefiting from oppression will provide freedom to its captives. Therefore, it must be obtained through controversy.
In every age those in authority are attempted to abuse their power. The same countries that fight for liberty can eventually turn and become abusive to its citizens. Thus, some form of arrangement must be established to minimize the potential of a government becoming totalitarian.
Henry understood that government cannot increase prosperity. Rather, it is free citizens who produce wealth, and any oppressive administration impedes innovation and progress. To fight for liberty is noble, and to create a system of separation of powers is a sure way to prevent a totalitarian regime. In this case, it is independence.
Patrick Henry came to the point whereas he understood that he was now choosing between slavery and free. To Patrick, death was a superior option if he could not live free from fellow sinners with competing desires to abuse others for the sake of gain. Such words are still convincing because it confirms the solemn warning that no people desire to remain in any chain forever.
Presidential hopeful, Barack Obama’s “redistribution of wealth” program is a socialist scheme that destroys countries. In my recent biblical economics class, I pointed out to students that a country like China only capitalizes off American technology. Socialist and Communist countries do not invent because its citizens have no incentive to. Henry Hazlitt confirmed:
“The way to maximize production is to maximize the incentives to production. And the way to do that, as the modern world has discovered, is through the system known as capitalism—the system of private property, free markets, and free enterprise.”
It is profit that drives entrepreneurs; and it is the citizens that benefit from a product through fair exchange. When Sam Walton worked as a clerk in a J.C. Penny store, he learned retailing to the point where he went and started his own business. The managers who worked for James Cash Penny did not know that this young entrepreneur would one day expand into what we know as Wal-Mart, the most profitable retail chain in the world.
If the socialist doctrine were in effect at the time, Mr. Walton, James Penny, Henry Ford (automobile), Charles Goodyear (rubber), or any other employer of thousands of people would have had no incentive to launch an enterprise. James Penny would have remained in poverty and looked for wealth from another source.
Let this be a lesson to those who trust in government to produce prosperity and impede the progress of private citizens who can innovate and benefit from free trade, provide jobs and crucial necessities that may extend the life expectancy of the average American. Those who champion true freedom would agree with Patrick: “Give me liberty or give me death.”
(1) Cook, James R., ed. The Free Market and its Enemies. Minneapolis: Investment Rarities Incorporated, 2008