Tag Archives: Patrick Henry

Patrick Henry Redux

Patrick Henry Redux

A puckish attitude on a Friday evening made it impossible to resist this contemporary hat tip to the original painting by Peter F. Rothermel “Patrick Henry Before the Virginia House of Burgesses” (1851). It actually portrays Henry’s “If this be treason, make the most of it!” speech against the Stamp Act of 1765, not his famous “Liberty or death!” call for Virginia to send to troops to the Revolutionary War in 1775. Still, it is a funny bit of timely satire that makes me ponder what Henry would say if he knew that a time would come when “liberty” would mean “the freedom to take all federal dollars within the law.”

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September 28, 2012 · 5:00 pm

Is Slavery Really America’s “Original Sin”?

If one wishes to deal in theological metaphors to grasp America’s greatest contradiction, I argue that comparing American slavery to the Calvinist idea of original sin is apt. However, Thomas S. Kidd (a  Baylor University professor and biographer of Patrick Henry)  writes, “If our heroes have to be perfect, then our list of historic exemplars will become very short. But imperfect heroes are, in a way, more instructive than (supposedly) perfect ones: no matter how great they become, all mere mortals are tempted to indulge their blind spots and moral evasions.” Flawed as the Founding Generation was, they still produced the longest-lasting constitutional democracy in the world. Kidd also asks, “Does focusing on the paradox that the author of the Declaration of Independence was a slave owner somehow detract from his accomplishments?” Consider the article a response to the Jefferson exhibit mentioned a few posts ago. Read the whole article by Kidd here.

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