Hanover in Hanover County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
“Give me liberty or give me death!”
— Patrick Henry, March 23, 1775 —
In December 1763, the Historic Hanover Courthouse was the site of the famous Parsons’ Cause, an opening salvo of the American Revolution. During the Parsons’ Cause trial, Patrick Henry voiced one of the first American objections to denial of the colonials’ right to legislate in local matters and to arbitrary rule: could British officials overrule local laws passed by the General Assembly of Virginia and signed by the royal governor? Colonial Virginians routinely paid Anglican clergyman in pounds of tobacco. When drought tripled the market price of tobacco in the 1750s, Virginia’s legislature passed short-term laws allowing vestries and county courts to pay salaries in money, rather than tobacco, which was worth much more at prevailing market prices. Virginia clergymen protested these laws to royal officials, and they were declared void.
By Bernard Fisher, July 4, 2010
1. Hanover Courthouse Marker
In his first prominent case as an attorney, Patrick Henry defended Sheriff Thomas Johnson of Louisa County who was responsible for the collection of tax levies, against a lawsuit for back pay brought by the Reverend James Maury in the name of the vestry of Fredericksville Parish. In November 1763, the
justices had already ruled in Maury’s favor. The December hearing was held only to determine the amount of back pay the vestry owed him. Patrick Henry argued that by interfering with laws passed by the elected representatives of the people of Virginia, a king behaved as a tyrant and sacrificed his claim of obedience from his subjects. Swayed by Henry’s eloquence, the jury awarded damages of one penny. The case established Henry’s reputation and he was soon elected to his first term in the House of Burgesses.
2. Sketch of Hanover County’s courthouse and jail
Patrick Henry (May 29, 1736 – June 6, 1799) was the leading Virginia statesman in defending the rights of Colonial America.
Following Henry's death, John Adams wrote to Thomas Jefferson singing his praises: “In the Congress of 1774 there was not one member, except Patrick Henry, who appeared to me sensible of the Precipice or rather the Pinnacle on which he stood, and had the candour and courage enough to acknowledge it.”
Henry was the first elected governor of Virginia, a devoted father of 17 children, and the most famous orator of his day. Born in Hanover County, Henry made a name for himself as a young lawyer in the Parsons’ Cause at Hanover Courthouse in 1763. His 1765 resolutions against the Stamp Act articulated the basic principles of the American Revolution. Henry is perhaps best known for
his immortal words “Give me liberty or give me death,” which he delivered during the Second Virginia Convention in a speech to fellow delegates George Washington and Thomas Jefferson at St. John’s Church in 1775. His impassioned words helped move colonists toward American independence and they continue to inspire the cause of freedom around the world.
By George Cooke, circa 1834
3. “Patrick Henry Arguing the Parsons’ Cause at Hanover Courthouse”
Virginia Historical Society
Known as the “Voice of the Revolution,” Henry’s political career included 26 years of service in the Virginia legislature and five terms as governor. He helped draft the Virginia Constitution of 1776 and its Declaration of Rights. A leading critic of the U.S. Constitution, Henry also strongly influenced the creation of the Bill of Rights. Following his death, Henry was buried at Red Hill Plantation, now the site of the Patrick Henry National Memorial.
Erected 2010 by The Road to Revolution Heritage Trail. (Marker Number 6.)
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Colonial Era • Patriots & Patriotism.
Location. 37° 45.789′ N, 77° 22.028′ W. Marker is in Hanover, Virginia, in Hanover County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Hanover Courthouse Road (U.S. 301) and County Complex Road. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Hanover VA 23069, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least
8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Hanover Confederate Soldiers Monument (a few steps from this marker); a different marker also named Hanover Courthouse (a few steps from this marker); Patrick Henry (within shouting distance of this marker); Hanover Tavern (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); a different marker also named Hanover Tavern (about 300 feet away); a different marker also named Hanover Tavern (about 400 feet away); The Colonial River Road (approx. 0.9 miles away); John Henry Smyth (approx. 1.1 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Hanover.
By Bernard Fisher, July 4, 2010
4. Hanover Courthouse Marker
More about this marker. On the left is a "Sketch of Hanover County’s courthouse and jail, included in Benson Lossing’s 1851 book. Lossing, 1974". On the right is a painting, “Patrick Henry Arguing the Parsons’ Cause at Hanover Courthouse” by George Cooke, c.1834 Virginia Historical Society, Richmond.
Also see . . .
1. The Parson's Cause Foundation. (Submitted on July 5, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.)
2. The Road to Revolution Heritage Trail. (Submitted on July 5, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.)
5. The Road to Revolution Heritage Trail
The Road to Revolution Heritage Trail links the historic sites and institutions in Virginia that interpret the life and legacy of Patrick Henry. Locations on the statewide trail are shown on the map.
1. Studley (Studley)
2. Historic Polegreen Church (Mechanicsville)
3. Rural Plains (Mechanicsville)
4. Pine Slash (Mechanicsville)
5. Hanover Tavern (Hanover)
6. Hanover County Courthouse (Hanover)
7. Scotchtown (Beaverdam)
8. St. John’s Church (Richmond)
9. Hampden-Sydney College (Hampden-Sydney)
10. Red Hill Plantation (Brookneal)
6. A Timeline of Patrick Henry's Life
1736 Henry was born at Studley Plantation
1748 Henry worshiped at Polegreen Church during Great Awakening period and was influenced by the oratory of the Rev. Samuel Davies until 1759
1754 Henry and Sarah Shelton were married at Rural Plains and moved into Pine Slash
1760 Henry passed bar examination in Williamsburg; opened law office at Hanover Tavern
1763 Henry argued Parsons’ Cause at Hanover Courthouse
1765 Henry elected to House of Burgesses and proposed Virginia’s bold Stamp Act Resolutions
1771 Henry made his home at Scotchtown
1774 Henry elected to First Continental Congress
1775 Henry delivered his “Liberty or Death” speech at St. Johns Church
1775 Henry elected to Second Continental Congress
1775 Henry, along with James Madison, elected as a founding trustee of Hampden-Sydney College
1776 Henry attended Fifth Revolutionary Convention and helped draft Virginia Constitution and Declaration of Rights
1776 Henry elected first governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, served three one-year terms
1784 Henry re-elected governor, served two one-year terms
1787 Henry declined election to Philadelphia Constitutional Convention
1788 Virginia ratified U.S. Constitution by 89 to 79 vote, Henry’s opposition fueled movement for a Bill of Rights, which was ratified three years later
1794 Henry made his home at Red Hill, Charlotte County
1794 through 1796 Henry declined sixth term as governor of Virginia and appointments as U.S. senator, chief justice, secretary of state, and ambassador to Spain and France
1799 Henry elected to House of Burgesses but died at Red Hill before taking office
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on July 5, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,318 times since then and 19 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on July 5, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.