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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Mechanicsville in Hanover County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Polegreen Church

Reverend Samuel Davies and a young Patrick Henry

 
 
Polegreen Church Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, July 4, 2010
1. Polegreen Church Marker
Inscription. For more than a century the Polegreen Church stood as a monument to the Hanover Dissenters and Samuel Davies in the struggle for religious liberty. Though Davies died fifteen years before the American Revolution, his influence and revolutionary spirit was embodied in Patrick Henry, the orator of the Revolution.

When Reverend Samuel Davies arrived to Polegreen in 1747, Patrick Henry was only eleven years old. Patrick’ mother, Sarah, and her father, Isaac Winston, were active dissenter members of the congregation. They regularly worshipped on this site for the twelve years of Davies’ ministry at Polegreen. Ironically, Patrick was named for his uncle who was the Rector of the Anglican parish known as St. Paul’s at Old Church in Hanover County, Virginia.

Though the force that drove Davies was religious, the impact of his life and ministry on the political climate was equally remarkable. Known as the best recruiter of volunteer militiamen during the Seven Years’ War of 1754-1759, his patriotic sermons left Davies with no peer as a pulpit orator in Virginia, or perhaps in all the colonies, during his lifetime. This gift of oratory gave him the designation “Apostle of Virginia.”

His sermons were so powerful that Sarah Henry required her young son to repeat them on their carriage ride home to Patrick
A Timeline of Patrick Henry's Life image. Click for full size.
July 4, 2010
2. 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
Henry’s birthplace, Studley Plantation, which is approximately four miles from this site. Documented by his biographer William Wirt, shortly before his death, Henry credited Davies with teaching him what an orator should be.

(sidebar)
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
Reverend Samuel Davies image. Click for full size.
[Library of Congress]
3. Reverend Samuel Davies
Oil on canvas, Union Theological Seminary and Presbyterian School of Christian Education, Richmond, Virginia
and they continue to inspire the cause of freedom around the world.

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 2.)
 
Location. 37° 38.705′ N, 77° 19.793′ W. Marker is near Mechanicsville, Virginia, in Hanover County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Rural Point Road (County Route 643) and Heatherwood Drive (Virginia Route 1750). Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 6411 Heatherwood Drive, Mechanicsville VA 23116, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Polegreen Story (a few steps from this marker); Welcome to Historic Polegreen Church (a few steps from this marker); Site of Polegreen (within shouting distance of this marker);
Historic Polegreen Church Site image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, July 4, 2010
4. Historic Polegreen Church Site
a different marker also named Polegreen Church (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Polegreen Church (within shouting distance of this marker); Historic Polegreen Church (within shouting distance of this marker); Battle of Totopotomoy Creek (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); 36th Wisconsin (approx. half a mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Mechanicsville.
 
More about this marker. On the left is a photo with the caption, "Living Historian portrays Davies at Polegreen". On the right is a portrait of "Reverend Samuel Davies".
 
Also see . . .
1. The Road to Revolution Heritage Trail. (Submitted on July 5, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.)
2. Historic Polegreen Church Foundation. (Submitted on July 5, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.)
3. Religion in Eighteenth-Century America. Religion and the Founding of the American Republic [Library of Congress] (Submitted on July 5, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.) 
 
Categories. Churches, Etc.Colonial EraPatriots & PatriotismWar, US Revolutionary
 
Historic Polegreen Church Site image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, July 4, 2010
5. Historic Polegreen Church Site
The Road to Revolution Heritage Trail image. Click for full size.
July 4, 2010
6. 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)
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on July 5, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,178 times since then and 51 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on July 5, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.
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