Another rallying cry was 'Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!' made famous by Patrick Henry from a speech he made to the Second Virginia Convention on March 23, 1775, at St. John's Church in Richmond, Virginia.
Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. [But] Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.
I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. And judging by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the British ministry for the last ten years to justify those hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to comfort themselves and the House. Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received? Trust it not, sir. Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss. Ask yourselves, are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Let us not deceive ourselves, sir. These are the implements of war and subjugation; the last arguments to which kings resort. I ask gentlemen, sir, Has Great Britain any enemy, in this quarter of the world, to call for all this accumulation of navies and armies? No, sir, she has none. They are meant for us: they can be meant for no other. And what have we to oppose to them?
Shall we try argument? Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years. Sir, we have done everything that could be done to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of Parliament.
Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrance’s have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne! In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation? There is no longer any room for hope. If we wish to be free, we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of hosts is all that is left us!
It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. The war is actually begun! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!
Declaration of Independence: A Transcription
In Congress, July 4, 1776.
This document, the supreme law of the land, was signed on September 17, 1787, by delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. Under America’s first governing document, the Articles of Confederation, the national government was weak and states operated like independent countries. At the 1787 convention, delegates devised a plan for a stronger federal government with three branches—executive, legislative and judicial—along with a system of checks and balances to ensure no single branch would have too much power. The Constitution is not a document telling the government here's what they can't do, rather it is a list of things that the government is only allowed to do.
After winning the war against the British, America was governed by the Articles of Confederation which gave states all the power. 11 years later America was in rough shape, owing millions to France and the Netherlands and with federal taxation being only voluntary. So on May 25, 1787, the Constitutional Convention opened in Philadelphia at the Pennsylvania State House, now known as Independence Hall. There were 55 delegates in attendance, representing all 13 states except Rhode Island, which refused to send representatives because it did not want a powerful central government interfering in its economic business. George Washington, who’d become a national hero after leading the Continental Army to victory during the American Revolution, was selected as president of the convention by unanimous vote.