It was here that Patrick Henry uttered his famous words, "Give me liberty or give me death." Engage the students in an open discussion:
- What do these words mean to you?
- Why do you think Patrick Henry was willing to give his life to liberty?
- What causes might you be wiling to give your own life?
- Throughout history other national leaders have given speeches from which a single phrase has been handed down through time. What are some other important historical phrases you know? Students (and adults) might answer "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." (JFK) "Speak softly and carry a big stick." (Teddy Roosevelt) "I have a dream." (MLK) "Four score and seven years ago..." (Lincoln) "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." (FDR) As they answer, ask of they know the context in which the speech was given. Why might this particular quote have become a part of our American heritage?
- Over 100 leaders of the Virginia Colony met here for the Second Virginia Convention, even though the capital of the colony at the time was Williamsburg. Why do you think they chose a church in the city of Richmond?
- In addition to its historic importance as part of the impetus to the American Revolution, the brick schoolhouse in which the Visitor Center is located, was a mission school for African-American children in 1856. How does this part of its history carry on the words of Patrick Henry?
Teachers and tour operators should note that the church offers private reenactments for student groups. Historic interpreters lead the students in a discussion of the events on Virginia that led up to the American Revolution and the debates of the Second Virginia Convention in which Patrick Henry delivered his famous words. They also have a scavenger hunt of the graveyard. Check out their website for more information: www.historicstjohnschurch.org.