Patrick Henry (May 29, 1736–June 6, 1799), was an American Revolutionary leader and orator, who spoke the phrase, “Give me Liberty or give me death!” He was a member of the Continental Congress and was instrumental in writing the Constitution of Virginia. On June 12, 1776, as a member of the committee chosen to draft the first constitution of the commonwealth of Virginia, Patrick Henry helped champion Article XVI of the Virginia Bill of Rights:
That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other.
Patrick Henry stated:
Bad men cannot make good citizens. It is impossible that a nation of infidels or idolaters should be a nation of free-men. It is when a people forget God, that tyrants forge their chains. A vitiated state of morals, a corrupted public conscience, is incompatible with freedom.
John Bartlett, Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1855, 1980), p. 383.
The New Dictionary of Thoughts—A Cyclopedia of Quotations (Garden City, NY: Hanover House, 1852; revised and enlarged by C.H. Catrevas, Ralph Emerson Browns and Jonathan Edwards [descendent, along with Tryon, of Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), president of Princeton], 1891; The Standard Book Company, 1955, 1963), p. 337.