Four American Patriots  by Alma Holman Burton

The Story of Patrick Henry


Patrick Henry


Patrick Henry was born on the 29th of May, 1736, in Hanover County, Virginia. George Washington was born on the 22d of February, 1732, in Westmoreland County.

While one was a baby rocking in his cradle, the other was still so small that he played about in dresses like a girl.

Many years later these Virginia boys were great friends, and, as we shall see, they became two of the most famous men in the history of our country.

The blue-eyed Patrick grew very fast. When he was old enough to go about alone, he found playmates in the woods.

The birds sang to him, the fishes dared him to dive into the clear water after them, and the bees often droned about him until he fell asleep on the grass.

Patrick's father was a Scotchman from Aberdeen, and some of his father's people were scholars of such renown that they were known throughout Europe.

He told the boy all about these noted ancestors, and started a private school to encourage him to study to make a great man of himself.

But Patrick did not care very much for books. He liked to guide a canoe down the South Anna River, which ran past the little farm where he lived. He spent many hours on the green bank watching the cork of his fishing rod. He often wandered far into the forest to set traps for the game. And you can easily guess that his lessons were never very well prepared.

His mother always took him to the Presbyterian church to hear Mr. Davies preach.

Mr. Davies was a wonderful man. He was tall and erect. His face was beautiful, and his manners were so polished that some one said he seemed like the embassador of a great king.

At church Patrick kept his eyes wide open and listened to every word the preacher said. When he returned home, his mother would ask him to give the text and repeat all of the sermon he could.

Patrick loved to imitate the clear, sweet voice and graceful gestures of Mr. Davies. His mother said she hoped he would make a preacher.

But his father said he did not like books well enough for that. At last he said he believed the boy would never be a scholar, and that he was only fit for some kind of trade. So he sent him to live with a merchant, that he might learn how to buy and sell goods.