I wrote about Patrick Henry for OLL this week.
“Can [the President] not at the head of his army beat down every opposition? Away with your President, we shall have a King: The army will salute him Monarch; your militia will leave you and assist in making him King, and fight against you: And what have you to oppose this force? What will then become of you and your rights? Will not absolute despotism ensue?” It is noted in the manuscript that the stenographer could not keep up with the torrent of terrible possible consequences that Henry was shouting about concerning a chief executive.
Most of his apocalyptic scenarios have not happened … yet. What inspired me in his speech was his energy more than his arguments. As much as he praised the American spirit of the past that ousted British rule, he was not complacent. He models a kind of patriotism that embraces an American project without holding to any fantasies about the morality of particular American leaders or soundness of American institutions. He would not have been disillusioned by the scandals and crimes of the American political class. He anticipated it.
Read the rest at The Reading Room.