Patrick Henry’s Anti-Federalist Speeches

TJ Martinell with a series of articles providing an overview of some of the fiery orator’s positions against the Constitution during the Virginia Ratification Debates of 1788.

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Patrick Henry Warns of a "Great and Mighty Empire"

Patrick Henry Warns of a “Great and Mighty Empire”

Before the Constitution was adopted, Henry warned that it would create a “great and mighty empire” headed by a president able to “render himself absolute,” backed by a long-standing army ...
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Patrick Henry Demands a Bill of Rights

Patrick Henry Demands a Bill of Rights

On June 7, 1788, Patrick Henry delivered one of many long speeches at the Virginia Ratifying Convention, warning about giving up too much power, and demanding the inclusion of a ...
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Patrick Henry Argues Against Imaginary Dangers

Patrick Henry Argues Against Imaginary Dangers

On June 9, 1788, Patrick Henry delivered a speech at the Virginia Ratifying Convention arguing that many of the alleged crises of the time used to justify the proposed constitution ...
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Patrick Henry's Lesson on the Need for a Bill of Rights

Patrick Henry’s Lesson on the Need for a Bill of Rights

During this speech, he offered a history lesson highlighting the importance of preserving freedom, but he also warned that written guarantees are, by themselves, ineffective ...
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Patrick Henry Debates Federalists, Insists on a Bill of Rights

Patrick Henry Debates Federalists, Insists on a Bill of Rights

Federalist supporters of the Constitution argued a Bill of Rights was not necessary, due to the structure of delegated and reserved power. James Wilson, most prominently, noted that adding it ...
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Patrick Henry Warns of "Dangerous and Destructive" Treaty Powers

Patrick Henry Warns of “Dangerous and Destructive” Treaty Powers

Patrick Henry pushed back against this power at the Virginia Ratifying Convention, warning it would undermine state sovereignty and potentially lead to treaties that violated individual rights ...

Podcast Episodes on Patrick Henry’s Speeches

Michael Boldin takes a dive into the Virginia Ratification Debates on the Path to Liberty Podcast

We the People or We the States: Patrick Henry’s Anti-Federalist Speech No. 1

We the People or We the States: Patrick Henry’s Anti-Federalist Speech No. 1

In his first speech at the Virginia Ratifying Convention, Patrick Henry challenged the legitimacy of the Philadelphia Convention of 1787, warned against consolidation, and argued that a federal system should ...
Liberty or Empire: Patrick Henry’s Anti-Federalist Speech No. 2

Liberty or Empire: Patrick Henry’s Anti-Federalist Speech No. 2

Centralization of power, standing armies, an elected king – would lead to a mighty empire, rather than a land of liberty. That’s what Patrick Henry warned about in his 2nd ...
Don’t Give in to Fear: Patrick Henry’s Anti-Federalist Speech No. 3

Don’t Give in to Fear: Patrick Henry’s Anti-Federalist Speech No. 3

Responding to Federalist claims that rejecting ratification would lead to danger, chaos and potential ruin, Patrick Henry took the other side, “it is the fortune of a free people not ...
Imaginary vs Real Dangers: Patrick Henry’s Anti-Federalist Speech No. 4

Imaginary vs Real Dangers: Patrick Henry’s Anti-Federalist Speech No. 4

In his 4th speech during the Virginia Ratifying Convention, Patrick Henry made the case that the constitution was being sold as a response to dangers that didn’t truly exist – ...
Implied vs Expressly Reserved: Patrick Henry’s Anti-Federalist Speeches 5-7

Implied vs Expressly Reserved: Patrick Henry’s Anti-Federalist Speeches 5-7

In a series of speeches during the Virginia Ratifying Convention, Patrick Henry warned that despite arguments to the contrary, the federal government wouldn’t act like its powers were only those ...

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