Judge McConnell gave a very interesting and insightful lecture today on “Patrick Henry and the Deepest Meaning of the Constitution.” I learned much about this overlooked founding father, who Judge McConnell called the “greatest orator” of the founding generation.
Much of what Judge McConnell said about Patrick Henry was based on speeches Henry made in the Virgina Ratifying Convention in 1788. If anyone is interested in reading these debates they can be found in a work known as Elliot’s Debates that is available online through the Library of Congress’s American Memory Project. Volume 3 contains the text of speeches from the Virginia Ratifying Convention. You can browse through this volume (may take a while) or follow the index entries for Patrick Henry. The print volumes of Elliot’s Debates are available on the 3d floor of the library at call number KF 4502 .E44 1996.
As Judge McConnell mentioned, Patrick Henry has been largely overlooked in the new scholarship that has been produced about the founding generation. The Library does have some of the older scholarship that may be of interest to you if you’d like to learn more about Henry.
Beeman, Richard R., Patrick Henry: A Biography, E 302.6 .H5 .B44 1974 (3d floor)
Campbell, Norine Dickson, Patrick Henry: Patriot and Statesman, E 302.6 .H5 .C23 1969 (3d floor and Reserve)
Tyler, Moses Coit, Patrick Henry, E 302.6 .H5 .T92 1898 (3d floor and Reserve)
Morgan, George, The True Patrick Henry, E 302.6 .H5 .M8 1907 (3d floor)
Henry, William Wirt, Patrick Henry; life, correspondence and speeches, E 302.6 .H5 .H5 1891 (Reserve)